In this recurring column, Not Your Typical Gig, we interview men with out-of-the-box careers to get a glimpse of what goes on behind-the-scenes of their unusual jobs.
Follow Santa this season on SantaTime, where kids can FaceTime with the big man. All proceeds go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
NAME: Santa Claus
CITY: North Pole
COMPANY: Self-Employed, Independent Contractor
How long have you had the gig for?
Around 1700 years, give or take a few years.
How did you get into this line of work?
Well I kind of fell into it. I started out giving gifts to needy people in my village. You know, just for fun. The next thing I knew, it turned into my calling. A few years later, I’ve got a full operation: a factory with 200 employees (elves mostly), a reindeer farm, and Mrs. Claus at my side. Who would’ve thought Little Nicky from Myra who would become Santa Claus.
What kind of skillset does it take to break into this line of work?
Time management. That’s the big one—especially nowadays with 2 billion kids worldwide and countless modern-day distractions. We JUST got Wi-Fi in the North Pole, and that’s kind of turned into an issue tbh.
What does your workday look like from the time you wake up?
I get up every day at 5 am (including weekends). I have a quick breakfast—try to keep it whole grain and stay away from sugary cereals, but you know how it is. I do my stretches. Check on the reindeer. I then visit the workshop, but honestly, it’s pretty self-operating at this point—a steady pipeline of dedicated employees working 365 days a year. Then I take a power nap, have a snack, visit with the kiddos on SantaTime. Always a treat. By evening, I eat dinner, then start going through my list. The list itself is extensive and I have to check it twice. I start December 26th and am lucky to get to bed by midnight each night. It’s all worth it!
How many months out of the year do you work?
12 months. It’s a lot, but my wife and I try to take two weeks off every January to visit our vacation property in Reseda, CA.
What is the most exciting, if possibly dangerous part of your job?
Flying. Definitely flying a sleigh pulled by magic reindeer, going 700+mph, at 35,000 ft. It’s both exhilarating and terrifying.
Favorite part of the job?
I think it goes without saying but delivering presents on Christmas Eve… also the cookies.
Least favorite part of the job?
Cleaning out the reindeer stables. When people think “Santa,” they think it’s all milk and cookies. In fact, it involves a lot of reindeer poop.
When you watch movies about Santa, do you pick them apart? In your opinion, which are the least accurate?
I appreciate most interpretations of Santa. They nailed it in Elf and Polar Express. Not to throw too much shade, but I’m not the biggest fan of The Santa Clause franchise starring Tim Allen. It just doesn’t accurately represent the process.
Please tell us about a moment that made you love your job even more?
Wow, there have been so many unforgettable moments throughout the years. Still, the best might have to be the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. When I first started this job 1700 years ago, kids used to leave out salted fish and nuts. I know it’s the thought that counts, and I’m very appreciative, but man, chocolate chip cookies just hit different, ya know?
Are there aspects of the job that made you think—this is crazy, why am I doing this?
Not really. This is hands down the most incredible job in the world. To be honest (I’ve never divulged this before), there was a brief moment in 2011 when I thought about hanging it all up and opening a frozen yogurt franchise, but I quickly realized that’s too low key for me. I’m blessed and honored to do what I do.
What does the job require you to wear?
On Christmas Eve, I wear my uniform. It’s my brand: big red suit, red hat, boots. Underneath the suit is what really matters, though—layers of thermal wear, a pretty high-tech tool kit, some bear mace (you never know). It’s designed for maneuverability, comfort, and safety. The rest of the year, I keep it pretty casual. I love fashion and try to mix it up a little every day. I’ve been experimenting with a stylist.
What essentials does the job require?
Patience, leadership and mental agility… and a lot of Bulletproof Coffee. You’d think a sugar high would be enough to keep you up all Christmas Eve, but that’s definitely NOT the case. So yeah, Bulletproof Coffee. And 16 oz of celery juice a day.