How hard can it be dressing up as Father Christmas and working in a Grotto? It must be dead easy, right?
The first thing you have to buy is … the suit. It is quite specific. It has to look ‘genuine’. It can only look ‘genuine’ if you spend at least a hundred quid on it.
There are shops that happily sell everything. Sadly I was not allowed to quietly enter one of these shops in Liverpool, try things on, flash the credit card, and escape. Nope, I had to endure the ritual humiliation of my loving life partner verbally vomiting up the details as to why I was there, causing many guffaws and loud chuckles, as well as a lot of laughing and pointing. Oh, and the photos.
So, to the suit. It comes as a pretend pair of black boots with a white fur trim that attach themselves to shoes without children realising.
A hairy pair of short red velvet trousers comes next. They are short in order to tuck gently into the top of the pretend boots.
Then a long red velvet jacket with white fur trim complete with oversize comedy black belt around the tummy at about the height that Simon Cowell used to wear his trousers before he realised he looked like a prize prat. The one I selected had a secret zip that held everything in place. I quite liked it and will happily wear it in public next June or July.
Most importantly, the face has to be dressed in such as way as to not look as if the beard is attached to or by a piece of elastic. Top of the range beards and wigs are quite expensive, but (apparently) this expenditure is essential.
To make a beard look properly real, there’s a complex (or at least, I managed to make it complex) way of using really strong mastic glue to stick it to the chin and upper lip (essential to allow for a kind of mouth hole to open as you speak) and then along a beard line across either cheek. With a little practice the hairs of the beard do indeed appear to be growing out of Santa’s face. However, the combination of heavy beard and strong mastic gluing does leave Santa‘s mouth permanently open and feeling like a shoe has been stapled to it.
It is important to know that drinking and eating is now impossible. Well, drinking through a straw is fine, but any attempt at eating means ingesting and then retching up the nylon strands of fake beard. Not a good look in front of a child.
Finally, there’s the long flowing wig. This is topped off by the red hat with a white fur trim and a white bobble.
To my horror I discovered that without the red hat, Father Christmas looks like Jimmy Savile. That is exceedingly not a good look!