Dressing up your tiny tot to sit on Santa’s lap for a festive photo op is definitely a highlight of the Christmas season. Whether they look cute and sweet or scream like crazy, it’s still a perfect photo to send to grandma and pull out every December for pretty much the rest of their lives.

But with a global pandemic still at large, is it safe to see Santa this year?

The Texas Medical Association ranks taking photos with Santa at a moderate to high risk. Obviously anything that draws a large crowd is considered risky, and Santas are traditionally found in high-traffic places, particularly shopping malls in the middle of the busy holiday shopping season.

However, lots of places are taking extra precautions to ensure kids can safely visit Santa. Most obviously, this means not actually sitting on Santa’s lap. You can also expect mask requirements, socially-distanced Santa sightings, and likely a plexiglass barrier. After all, most Santas fall into the high-risk category for COVID.


If you do decide to see Santa, check first if the locations near you require a reservation. Many places will have timed appointments to help reduce crowds, spread out visitors and allow for regular cleaning and sanitation. 


If it feels too risky, there are several different options for a virtual Santa visit, from Macy’sChatbook and more. You could also choose to go for a safer photo op setup, either at your home or a studio taking the appropriate COVID cautions. Older kids may miss the chance to see Santa, but if you just want cute Christmas photos of baby, there’s plenty of other ways to do so.