If you're looking to make a quick buck during the holiday season, perhaps being a professional Santa is where it's at — as long as you can convincingly get into character. In a profile on Santas-for-hire, Money magazine found that one could potentially make over $200 an hour as a seasoned Kris Kringle.
The job is, of course, not without its downsides; the hours are long and it's competitive. According to PayScale, while some Santas can make three figures an hour, there are jobs advertised paying just $12 per hour, too. A veteran Santa could bring in as much as $175 to $200 per hour. Working at the mall, as well as private and corporate events, can make a Santa up to $10,000 for the holiday season — not too bad for just over a month's work.
On Christmas Day, you could really clean up.
Randy Cook, 62, one of the most well-known Santas in the Seattle area, charges from $150 to $260 an hour on Christmas Day, which is high for his industry — but he said getting to the top of the Santa pile takes a ton of marketing and social media efforts.
"Your website has to hit the top of the Google search. If you search for Santas for Seattle, I show up in the top results," he told Money. "You have to have the entrepreneur's attitude, not an employee attitude. You got to be able to take the risk, get out there, and do it. It's hard for some people."
Cook said "sitting Santas" — those working the mall circuit — don't always make as much money as those who work events, like the celebrity parties at which he often circulates.
But Ed Taylor, 63, a high-profile Santa in the L.A. area, said he works both mall gigs and star-studded events, and charges ranging from $350 to $800 an hour on Christmas Day. So it looks like if you've got the holly-jolly branding down, there are quite a few opportunities to make serious money.