Christmas may be just around the corner, but there’s still plenty of time for your kids to talk with Santa. And despite COVID-19, there are plenty of socially distanced options for the annual Santa visit. In fact, we found some apps and websites that’ll let you book a slot for your kids to receive a video call from Santa Claus himself.
Each of the apps we included is available on both iOS or Android devices. They don’t include video calls, but they will allow your kids to receive a phone call from Santa or enjoy other Christmastime activities, like creating holiday photos with Santa. Some are even designed to let your kids hear a message from Santa reminding them to be on their best behavior, lest they end up on his naughty list.
Whether you schedule a video call or a regular phone call, these virtual Santa alternatives are sure to keep the Christmas spirit alive and are a terrific and festive way to celebrate the holidays with your family.
Things to Keep in Mind With These Apps and Services
Before you jump in, there are a few things you should know about these fun seasonal services like pricing, limitations, availability, and so on. And because of their unique online nature, you’ll want to be sure to read all the fine print to ensure that the experience you want runs smoothly.
- Price and Availability: Most of these services (especially video calls) are available for a cost and may also require you to book a slot in advance, so be sure to hurry and secure your spot as soon as possible. You should also be cautious of services charging super high prices compared to what they’re offering, as they may be trying to take advantage of you because of the holidays and COVID restrictions.
- Santa Options: Some services offer a variety of characters to pick from, like Santa, Mrs. Claus, or even some elves. A few even offer multilingual and multiethnic Santa options, allowing everyone to feel included.
- Experience Length and Souvenirs: Certain services let you submit things like your child(ren)’s name(s), Christmas list, and other details ahead of time as a way to make the experience more natural and immersive for your kids. Video calls average five minutes with Santa, 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 for multiple kids or your whole family to be on screen. This varies by service, so be sure to double check if you have multiple children.
The next best thing to visiting mall Santa in person is to get a personalized video call from him, of course! Luckily, each of these websites is offering virtual visits with Saint Nick. Visits are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so don’t hesitate to sign up if you’re interested.
JingleRing (starts at $24.95) is a popular, well-rounded option for a virtual Christmas experience. Its best features are its diverse cast of performers and its thoughtful family personalization options. You’ll get pictures with Santa as well as a keepsake video that’ll let you relive the moment for years. There’s even an option to add on a storytime from a curated list of classic holiday tales for an additional cost.
The festive service lets you choose your preferences for ethnicity, faith, and language (including ASL). JingleRing also has a Sensitive Santa who is available for children with special needs. As you’re booking, you’ll have the option to provide additional info that Santa should know, like what your kids want for Christmas, pet names, and things that deserve praise or need improvement. Slots can be booked for up to four guests at a time, and visits average 10-20 minutes. Options are open through December 27.
JingleRing lets you book a video call with Santa before Christmas, with multilingual and multiethnic Santa options.
T-Mobile’s Santa Calling
Need a little help getting ahold of Kris Kringle this year? Let T-Mobile help. On SantaCalling.com, T-Mobile lets you schedule a free live video chat with Santa. New appointments drop at 9 a.m. PT each day, so be sure to check back the next day if you couldn’t book a slot in time. T-Mobile also provides links to videos with Santa’s special message for kids who can’t wait to talk with him, featuring multiple language and ethnicity choices.
When signing up online, you’ll 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 can provide a more personalized call. The experience is open to anyone in the U.S. and runs through December 23.
T-Mobile's Santa Calling
With Santa Calling, you can book a personalized, free virtual Santa video call.
Santa the Experience
Santa the Experience is an “Elf-guided journey to the North Pole.” An elf named Pickles will initially greet you, then take you on a magical journey through Santa’s home at the North Pole, including an elf’s bedroom, the mailroom, the reindeer stables, and the toy factory, and you can also enjoy a quick visit with Mrs. Claus. Then the experience culminates in a visit with old Saint Nick himself. The entire experience lasts 10-12 minutes, and your child gets to spend about five minutes with Santa.
Bookings extend through December 24 and are available in hourly slots ranging from early in the morning to late in the evening. Pricing ranges from $44.95 for early morning slots to $79.95 for prime time evening visits. There is no limit to how many people can be on the call, so you can rope in your entire family, provided they can all fit on the screen. You’ll also receive a recording afterwards to enjoy for years to come.
Santa the Experience
With Santa the Experience, you can enjoy a festive 10-minute tour of the North Pole, included a 5-minute visit with Santa.
Cameo (pricing varies) is a site where you can pay to have your favorite celebrities send you a personalized message, so naturally, Santa (or hundreds of his most loyal impersonators, rather) is on there as well. Cameo prices vary depending on which actor you choose, but you can view the individual page for any Santa you’re interested in to learn more about what they offer. Some Santas might send a generic message, while others may be willing to allow for some personalization. You may even find some options for Mrs. Claus and some elves as well.
On Cameo, you can hire an actor playing Santa to deliver a festive holiday message to your children.
Sam’s Club’s My Santa Session
If you’re a Sam’s Club member with a photo account, your Santa Session is free. Membership is limited to one session, but multiple children can be fit into a single session. Within 48 hours of your virtual visit slot, you’ll receive a link to download your commemorative photo and video, which you can then save or share online. You’ll need to download the Zoom app on an internet-enabled device to make the call, and you’ll have five minutes to talk with Santa. If you don’t currently have a Sam’s Club membership, you’ll need to set one up first.
Sam's Club---My Santa Session
My Santa Sessions offers a single free virtual Santa visit to anyone who has a Sam’s Club membership.
If you don’t want to spend a chunk of change on an online Santa visit, there are other fun Christmas options available to you through these festive mobile apps. None of the apps offer actual video calls 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 what position Santa should sit or stand in, and even resizing and rotating him so that he looks perfect in any photos and videos you take with him. Then, once your scene looks North-Pole approved, have your kids jump in for a photo!
You can share your photos and videos online directly from the app, or you can opt to save them on your device. You can order on-demand prints from the app as well, which you can then send to your loved ones. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.
Package From Santa
Package from Santa (free with in-app purchases) is a simple app that offers a personalized (but simulated) call to your child from Santa. When signing up, you can choose the time and the date you want the call to be on. Then you can select from a list of 28 greetings and unique messages from Santa, like “Christmas Eve,” (which lets kids know that he’s on his 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 personalized video call from Santa. The app also offers Premium messages you can choose from as well as a Magic Pass, which costs $13.99 and includes multiple messages to be sent to your child along with a few fun extras. The pass includes a Before Christmas call, which encourages your child to be good in order to stay on Santa’s Nice List, a call on Christmas Eve telling your child that Santa’s in his sleigh and on the way, and other call and activity options. You can have up to four kids on a single call, which works great for families with multiple children.