We register 100 children at my location. While our auditorium will hold 200 people, we want to avoid the long lines that are typical of mall Santas. We don't limit on age, but we tend to skew young (2-5 year olds). Also, this is a program that they whole family will attend-you will have moms, dads, grandparents, and teenage brothers and sisters who will come along. They also take up space so you have to have room for them.
The Actual Program
Our Santa does a 20 minute program where he sings Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with the kids. He reads The Night Before Christmas (after all, we are a library). There is also a guessing game where he reads a rhyme and the kids have to guess. It is really interactive.
Then we split the kids in half. One half gets in line to sit on Santa's lap. The other half goes to the back of the room to work on crafts. This year we had two crafts.
We made Christmas tree ornaments out of paint strips, yarn, and stickers. All of the paint strips were precut and the ornaments were punched and strung. This made it easy to put the trees out on the tables for the kids to work on.
We also wrote/decorated letters to Santa. These I purchased from Oriental Trading. The bonus part of this activity is that many of the kids gave their letters to Santa while he was here. It also gave Santa something to talk about with the shier kids.
Santa spent time with all of the kids who wanted to visit with him. We also purchased mini candy canes from the dollar store for him to pass out.
This is one of those great programs that will be around for a long time. The families love it and it shows us off in a good light. As an added bonus, all of those Santa pictures were showing up on attendee's social media accounts. How can you beat that positive p.r.?