What makes us the best Santa experience in the Puget Sound region for your child with special needs?
Don't settle for a Santa portrait that claims they are "sensory-friendly," "sensitive," or "special needs" when they really aren't. Do they offer what we do?
At Sensational Santa:
At Sensational Santa:
- There is no waiting in lines! You get your own appointment!
- There are no crowds of people! The room is generally very quiet. There are no hard surfaces that echo. The room is carpeted, with enough room for kids to move around if they need a moment to transition.*
- We devote time to your individual family! You are the exclusive focus of our attention for 15 minutes.
- We will get the picture! Our photographer will take as many shots as needed to get a picture that both she and the family likes.
- The children don't have to sit on Santa's lap! They don't even have to even touch him if they don't want to. We have an enclosed sleigh prop that allows children to feel safe, comfortable and secure.
- The lights are turned off! The only artificial light in the room comes from the camera's flash umbrella. Natural light enters the room through windows along two sides of the room.*
- There is a separate waiting area with supported activities for children! In case there is a small wait time, kids can color, play with stickers, and make instant snow.
- We understand special needs! Our photographer is a grandmother to a child with autism. Our "head elf" is a former professional para-educator who worked with children who experienced deafness and also children who experienced moderate to severe autism. Our "assistant elf" is a mom of 2 boys with autism and runs a special needs nonprofit. Our Santa is a calm, pleasant gentleman who employs a gentle approach and engages quietly with the children. Any other volunteers we have helping are all well-versed in special needs.*
- We have a social story! Our goal is to help your child be successful. This is why we created a social story to help your child understand what will happen when they come to visit Santa and get their picture taken. We hope you find this tool very useful.*
- We are consistent! We try to keep our props, backgrounds and volunteers the same each year. We do this because we know that kids with special needs need routine and do better when things are not unexpected. We know how fun it is to see the progression of your child through the years with the same props and background. Many of our families will show us their child's Sensational Santa picture from the last year so that we can immediately see the difference in how much they've grown. We enjoy seeing that almost as much as the parents do! Keep in mind, change will happen... We may be unveiling a new sleigh soon, and we may also have some new volunteers to help out.*
- We are centrally located! The church where we hold the events is located close to the freeway and is easy to get to from anywhere in Tacoma and beyond.*
- People tell us we are the best! Our testimonials speak for themselves. Families love the Sensational Santa experience, and we love helping your family create cherished holiday memories.
- People come from near and far! We've had families make the trek to our events from Seattle, Olympia and beyond because of our high level of service, the professional portrait, and the value of the experience.
- We are inexpensive! It only costs $20 for up to 4 children, and only $25 for 5 or more children.
- You receive a beautifully composed professional portrait! Our photographer will email you a digital copy of the best picture taken of your child(ren) along with a copyright release so that you can have it printed anywhere and any way you like.
- We are run by volunteers who want to be there! We are not paid staff members, and we do this event because we love it so much.
- We offer a grant program! Part of our program is to offer a grant to one family per year for something that is helpful to the child. We launched this in 2013 by giving away a weighted blanket. In 2014 and 2015 we gave away musician's ear plugs for children with auditory sensitivities. We are excited to give back to the families we serve and help improve a child's life through a Santa grant.
- We are run by a nonprofit! The Sensational Santa events are a program of the Exceptional Families Network, which is a Washington 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Lakewood. EFN exists to empower special needs families through education and support programs, and Sensational Santa is one of our favorite annual events.
*The information provided is based upon our location in Tacoma. All other Sensational Santa events will vary slightly due to location, prop, photographer, Santa, and volunteer team. We will work hard to mirror the experience in Tacoma as much as we can in all locations.