Christmas may be just around the corner, but there is still plenty of time for your kids to talk to Santa. And despite COVID-1
Each of the apps we’ve included is available on both iOS and Android devices. They don’t include video calls, but they allow your kids to receive a call from Santa or enjoy other Christmas activities such as taking holiday photos with Santa. Some are even designed to get your kids to hear a message from Santa reminding them to behave as best they can or they’ll end up on his naughty list.
Whether you’re planning a video call or a regular phone call, these virtual Santa alternatives are sure to keep the Christmas spirit alive and are a great and festive way to celebrate the holidays with your family.
Things to keep in mind with these apps and services
Before you get in, there are a few things to know about these fun seasonal services, such as pricing, restrictions, availability, and so on. And because of their unique online nature, you want to make sure you read all the fine print to make sure the experience you want runs smoothly.
- Price and availability: Most of these services (especially video calling) are available for a fee and you may also need to reserve a slot in advance, so be quick and secure your spot as soon as possible. You should also be careful with services that charge super high prices compared to what they offer as they may try to take advantage of you due to the holidays and COVID restrictions.
- Santa options: Some services offer a variety of characters to choose from, such as Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, or even some elves. A few even offer multi-lingual and multi-ethnic Santa options, making everyone feel right about it.
- Experience length and souvenirs: Certain services allow you to submit things like your child (ren) ‘s name (s), Christmas list and other details in advance to make the experience more natural and immersive for your kids. Video conversations with Santa last an average of five minutes, and most experiences include commemorative photos and videos, so you can save them to enjoy in the future.
- Group options: Some services limit a single virtual visit to one child at a time, while others allow multiple children or your entire family to be on the screen. This differs per shift, so check if you have multiple children.
Of course, the next best thing to visit the Santa mall in person is to get a personal video call from him! Fortunately, each of these websites offers virtual visits with Saint Nick. Visits are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t hesitate to sign up if you’re interested.
JingleRing (starting at $ 24.95) is a popular, well-rounded option for a virtual Christmas experience. Its best features are the diverse cast of performers and thoughtful personalization options for the family. You get photos with Santa and a keepsake video that will help you relive the moment for years to come. There’s even an option to add story time from a curated list of classic holiday stories at an additional cost.
The festive service allows you to choose your ethnicity, religion and language (including ASL) preferences. JingleRing also has a Sensitive Santa that is available for children with special needs. While you are booking, you have the option to provide additional information that Santa should know, such as what your kids want for Christmas, pet names, and things worthy of praise or improvement. Slots can be booked for up to four guests at a time and visits an average of 10-20 minutes. Options are open through December 27.
Santa Calling from T-Mobile
Need some help this year to get a hold of Kris Kringle? Let T-Mobile help. At SantaCalling.com, you can schedule a free live video chat with Santa using T-Mobile. New appointments come in every day at 9 a.m.PT, so make sure to come back the next day if you can’t book a slot on time. T-Mobile also provides links to videos with Santa’s special message for kids who can’t wait to talk to him, featuring multiple language and ethnicity choices.
If you sign up online, you will need to specify how many children are participating, what their names are, how to pronounce their names, what they want from Santa this year, and answer a few other questions so that Santa will call a more personal one. The experience is open to anyone in the US and will run through December 23.
Santa the experience
Santa the Experience is an “Eleven-Guided Journey to the North Pole.” An elf named Pickles will greet you initially and then take you on a magical journey through Santa’s house at the North Pole, including an elf bedroom, the mail room, the reindeer stables and the toy factory, and you can also enjoy a short visit with Mrs. Claus. Then the experience culminates in a visit to the old Saint Nick himself. The entire experience lasts 10-12 minutes and your child can spend about five minutes with Santa.
Bookings run through December 24 and are available in hourly slots ranging from early morning to late evening. Prices range from $ 44.95 for early morning slots to $ 79.95 for prime time evening visits. There is no limit to the number of people who can be on the call, so you can do a tug of war with your entire family, provided they all fit on the screen. You will also receive a recording afterwards to enjoy for years to come.
Cameo (prices vary) is a site where you can pay to have your favorite celebrities send a personal message, so of course Santa (or rather hundreds of his most loyal impersonators) is there too. Cameo prices vary depending on the actor you choose, but you can check out the individual page for any Santa you are interested in to learn more about what they have to offer. Some Santas may send a blanket message, while others may be willing to allow some personalization. You may even find some options for Mrs. Claus and some elves.
My Santa Session from Sam’s Club
If you’re a Sam’s Club member with a photo account, your Christmas session is free. Membership is limited to one session, but multiple children can fit in one session. Within 48 hours of your virtual visit slot, you will receive a link to download your memorial photo and video, which you can then save or share online. You need to download the Zoom app on a device with internet access to make a call, and you have five minutes to talk to Santa. If you don’t currently have a Sam’s Club membership, you will need to create one first.
If you don’t want to spend small change on an online Christmas visit, there are other fun Christmas options available to you through these festive mobile apps. None of the apps offer actual video calling like the websites above, but they do offer voice calls, photos with Santa, and other fun activities.
Santa Pics app
With the Santa Pics app ($ 0.99) you can use augmented reality (AR) to ‘place’ Santa in your room. You can even set the scene by adding festive props, choosing which position Santa should sit or stand in, and even resize and rotate it so it looks perfect on all the photos and videos you take with him . Once your scene looks North Pole approved, let your kids take a picture!
You can share your photos and videos online directly from the app, or you can choose to save them to your device. You can also order prints on demand through the app, which you can then send to your loved ones. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.
Santa’s Pack (Free with in-app purchases) is a simple app that provides a personalized (but simulated) call to your child from Santa. When you sign in, you can choose the time and date you want the call to be made. Then you can choose from a list of 28 greetings and unique messages from Santa, such as “Christmas Eve” (which lets kids know he’s on the way). You can also choose to upload a photo if you want your child’s face to appear on the screen when Santa calls, along with their name and age, for a little more personalization.
Portable North Pole
Portable North Pole (free with in-app purchases) allows you to get a personal video call from Santa. The app also offers Premium Messages for you to choose from, as well as a Magic Pass, which costs $ 13.99 and includes multiple messages that can be sent to your child, along with a few nice extras. The pass includes a pre-Christmas call, encouraging your child to be good to stay on Santa’s nice list, a Christmas Eve call to tell your child Santa is in his sleigh and on the way, and other call-outs and activity options. You can have up to four children on a single call, which works great for families with several children.