Worn out from all those shopping mall appearances and the endless parade of children pulling at his beard and putting wear and tear on his knees, Santa has gone digital. Today, if you want to get in touch with Santa Claus, your best bet is to email him, send him a text, record and send a video message, chat with him online, call him on the phone, or hit him up on Twitter–though be warned, he seems to have a number of different handles: there’s @SantaOfficial_ both with and without the underscore at the end.
Although Santa has embraced all kinds of new technologies, nothing convinces quite as much as a face-to-face talk.
Sure, you can easily text or Tweet Santa, but the most complete illusion for putting the young in touch with the spirit of Christmas is undoubtedly through a Santa video call. Although Santa has embraced all kinds of new technologies, nothing convinces quite as much as a face-to-face talk. It’s sometimes expensive and always short and to the point, but video calling is a great way to add an extra dimension to the Christmas mythology, or even some reassurance to those starting to doubt.
Of course, you could save yourself the hassle of scheduling a call from the North Pole and use your own video calling wizardry to create a DIY Santa experience. Just don’t skimp on the background, because chances are good that your kids know what your office looks like.
Pre-Recorded Calls with Santa Are for True Believers Only
The majority of Santa video call apps available online in fact provide only pre-recorded calls. This is of course cheaper than a live video call since there are far fewer demands made on Santa this way.
The Apple Store has several of these kinds of apps, including Video Calls With Santa, which create the illusion of live interaction. Video Calls With Santa costs $2.99 and is yours to keep for as long as your kids keep forgetting last year’s call. It comes with three variations of calls: one for children who have been good, one for the naughty ones, and a call that lets kids tell Santa anything they want. The app lets you take turns speaking during the call, tapping the screen after you’re done to initiate Santa’s next line of dialogue.
Santa’s Spy Cam, available on both Android and iPhone, lets you superimpose spying elves or Santa on your own home.
Android has its own version, called Live Santa Claus Video Call, though this one is drenched in advertising, so you’d better be quick to snatch the phone back once Santa hangs up. This version also has a timer mode that means kids get to answer Santa’s call rather than dial him up.
If a pre-recorded Santa is all you need, then Portable North Pole is well worth a look. Their calls are more like video letters, but they cover topics such as It’s time to try a little harder, Try hard to listen to mom, and Santa is really proud of you!
In addition to these robot services, you can also find some nice augmented reality apps. Santa’s Spy Cam, available on both Android and iPhone, lets you superimpose spying elves or Santa on your own home, showing them scampering around or peeking through your windows. It’s a neat trick with a convincing backstory that anyone able to hold a phone steady can pull off. It’s not really the height of AR technology, but it looks effective enough, especially for younger children, as you can see below.
To really get the Santa fever going, though, you have to make a live video call–and to heck with the cost.
Live Video Calls Are Where the Magic Lives
There are several companies out there offering genuine real-time video chat with Santa. They’ll all cost you at least $10 and the calls all run for just three to five minutes, but if you’re after a more convincing illusion, then the names below are a good start.
The Santa Claus Company: At $40 a call this is the most expensive live call app we’ve come across. For that fee, you can talk with Santa for up to five minutes over your existing FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, or Google Hangouts platform. As with other services on this list, you can brief Santa’s helper elf prior to the call to make the whole thing more convincing.
Santa’s Video Calls: The pricing pattern for this service is one of the few that varies by date. As you get closer to Christmas Eve, the call cost jumps from $11 to $27, but Santa’s time gets more precious with each passing day, so maybe it’s understandable. The service is available is several different countries, you have to have a Skype account, and you’ll get three minutes with jolly St. Nick. In keeping with the spirit of the season, Santa’s Video Calls will perform free video chats with kids at hospitals and orphanages.
That Santa Guy: Hollywood actor Ed Taylor, the star of TV spots for Chrysler and Coca-Cola, has turned his home office into a North Pole workshop and will–for a fee–play Santa for your kids over Skype. Ed charges $40 for his time, but at least he knows how to look and act the part.
If you don’t want to pay for the Santa experience, or you just don’t trust anyone else to keep the myth alive, you can always wear the red suit yourself.
A Do-It-Yourself Santa Video Call
We at VC Daily have been thinking about the possibilities of DIY video chats with Santa for a while. Back in 2016, we offered some advice on how to stage your own North Pole call using any video conferencing platform you’d prefer. Since then, things have changed a little on the video front and it’s easier than ever to enhance your call digitally. There are several digital background replacement services available to help create a convincing snowy backdrop, and special effects apps like YouCam 8 might even be able to give you a digital beard and robe.
We’ve said it before, but no one knows your children the way you do, and no one is going to be able to answer all their festive questions like you.
So go on, make a little digital magic this year and become the spirit of Christmas for someone young enough to believe.