As someone who spent her younger years being reminded of a Christmas when I cried on Santa's lap, I thought I'd share some tips for a successful trip to see Santa. Those pictures are like gold...but all parents have at least one photo where the kid is screaming. Here's how to help prevent it.

In my case, my grandfather laughed every year because he thought I was scared of Santa on that long-ago Christmas. I finally set him right. I wasn't scared. I got my finger twisted up in Santa's beard and couldn't get it free! Not much you can do about that...but Parenting magazine offers a few suggestions to help avoid the unhappy Santa visitor....

  • Do a dry run. Take your child to the mall to see Santa a few days ahead of time. Point him out and stand with your child for a few minutes while they watch other children sit on his lap.
  • Take some supplies. Snacks will help prevent your child from being hungry and cranky.
  • Distract your child. They recommend a piece of tape, but I would suggest a band-aid with a favorite cartoon character. Your child's attention will be focused on the band-aid, instead of how scary this guy with the whiskers is.
  • Write down a quick Christmas list and give it to your child. That way, if they can't talk to Santa, he can read the requests and talk to your child about what he wants.
  • Don't look for the perfect photo shot. Remember, sometimes candid pictures with the right caption can be even more precious!
  • Do what you can a head of time to prevent your child being afraid of Santa. Don't say "Don't be scared" because the suggestion can be powerful.
  • Bring a snuggly one. A favorite teddy bear or stuffed animal can make a child feel safe.
  • Most important is keeping your sense of humor. It can be a fun day, even if your kid screams when they see the guy in the red suit. These are memories that will last a lifetime!