While I won't go into my crazy reasonings for using so many different photographers (it is a me problem, I know this) I will tell you why I think we are settled on Santa #4.
So! Santa #1. Charley was just a few months old at her first Christmas. I didn't love the idea of taking a tiny baby to the mall Santa that year in the middle of germy season so when I saw an event at the Melting Pot where you got chocolate fondue AND a personal visit with Santa I jumped on it. The only part I didn't like was that I had to take my own picture and I don't trust myself to take a good picture when I only have a couple chances. It didn't turn out that bad, but it still isn't my favorite.
The next year we tried out a mall Santa. The mall we went to is a smaller mall that is not in Charlotte but one of the suburbs. The mall is generally pretty slow and we also went pretty early in December as well so there was little to no wait at all. This was the year of "stranger danger" in Charley's development, so we got a crying Santa visit picture. However, Santa, in all your crying baby experience you haven't figured out how to grin and bear it for the photo op?
In 2013 we went back to the same small-mall Santa. Maybe his dazed and confused look was a fluke and we'd have better luck this year.
Ehhhh not so much. I just want a smile from the jolly ol' man, for goodness sakes!
A couple weeks later that same year we went to another Christmassy event that had another Santa you could visit and it was free with your admission. The room he was in was beautiful and he was such a nice Santa! BUT. Again with the take-your-own-picture thing which isn't my favorite.
Which brings us to Santa #4. He is at a very busy mall and I avoid any malls as much as I possibly can. For whatever reason though, last year we had to go to this mall so this was totally a go-ahead-and-knock-out-the-Santa-visit-since-we'll-be-there visit. It was only November 29th, so just a couple days after Thanksgiving and much to our surprise, there was NO LINE! Hooray!
Look at the jolly smile! It was great! He spent time with her and talked to her and the picture came out great too.
So, this year we decided to go back to him. Last week we seemed to have something planned on every single day except Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, so we chose to knock out the Santa visit Tuesday evening. We all got home and had dinner and we got the girls dressed in their matching dresses (because I have to!) and headed to the mall. We took our time with dinner and all so it was a little later than we planned, but the mall is open until 9:00 so we would make it there in plenty of time. We got there at about 7:55 and made our way to see Santa. It was 8:00 on the dot as we walked up to the area and noticed the jolly old man was no where to be seen. His helpers looked to be shutting the cash register down and the calendar posted to our right said Santa was off duty as of 8:00 that evening. Ughhhhhhhhh. The little helper elves were very nice and felt bad and apologized but Santa was already off to feed the reindeer before bed and told us to come back tomorrow. You know - on WEDNESDAY, the ONLY other free day of the week. Sigh.
But we did it anyways because the next free day to go was a ways out. We put them back in their same outfits from the night before and decided to head straight to the mall once we met at home and have dinner afterwards in the food court. It worked out perfectly! There wasn't a single person in line again, either! We couldn't get Laney to smile while on Santa's lap, but she wasn't crying at all (I'm thinking next year for her crying year) and it was cute anyways.
And they gave access to the whole photoshoot this year instead of the one decided on shot, so even better. I love Charley's dimple and Laney's cheeks in this one.
Whew. That was a lot of (not needed) info about Santa visits. But there you go. We choose Santa #4! Hooray!