The holiday season abounds with traditions. And photos with the big guy in red is right at the top of that merry list. To help minimize the Santa photo stress this year, we’ve rounded up the best places to seek out St. Nick. Choosing the least meltdown-inducing matching Christmas sweaters for your mini-mes? That one’s up to you.

The Ultimate Santa: Downtown Nordstrom

If you grew up around the Seattle area, chances are you and your siblings had photos taken with the Frederick and Nelson’s Santa, and remember waiting impatiently in line, dressed to the nines while you drank in all the magic and splendor of Santa’s Workshop. For the current generation of kids, Nordstrom has captured this magic – and then some. Yes, the wait is still long—getting there early in the day and season is highly advised—but now the downtown Nordstrom has a multitude of rotating Santas on the schedule, including an African-American Santa, an Asian-American Santa and a Santa that knows ASL (American Sign Language). And new this year, no more waiting outside in the cold. You heard us right, parents! Just leave your cell number with the elves and you'll receive a text alert when it's time to enter. Once inside Santa's Lane, there will be a wait time of approximately 45 minutes to an hour, but at least your toes will be warm and toasty!

For special needs kids or large groups, Santa can meet up with you in a private room, away from the hubbub. If any of these preferences sound good to you, be sure to call Santa Lane at 206-628-1000 and follow Nordstrom Downtown Seattle on Twitter for additional details, including wait times and diversity Santa hours. (Or call him up if your kiddo just needs to hear Santa’s kind voice).

Good to Know: In addition to Santa at the Downtown Seattle Nordstrom, kids can visit him (with much shorter wait times) at the Nordstroms at Bellevue Square, Westfield Southcenter and Tacoma Mall. All photo packages will be mailed to you once completed. Psst! If you want them before Christmas, make sure to visit Santa by Dec. 16, 2015.

Dates: Nov. 27–Dec. 24, 2015
Cost: Photo packages range from $22 to $87; a CD of digital photos is $34.

500 Pine St.
Seattle, Wa 98101

photo: Nordstrom Facebook page

  • The Ultimate Santa: Downtown Nordstrom
  • Step Inside Santa’s House: University Village
  • Santa Without Tears: Westfield Southcenter
  • Interplanetary Santa: The Space Needle
  • Reindeer Games: Swansons' Reindeer Festival
  • Holiday Wonderland: Redmond Town Center
  • Most Authentic Santa: Alderwood Mall
  • Seeing is Believing: Macy’s SantaLand
  • Up, Up and Away Santa: Museum of Flight
  • Santa Outside the Box: Wing Luke Museum
  • Bring Your Camera (and Your Pet): Molbak’s
  • Best Tree Farm Santa: Christmas Creek Tree Farm
  • All Around Santa:
  • Online Santa: Portable North Pole

Where is your favorite place to take the kids for Santa photos every year? Tell us in the Comment below!

— Erin Cranston & Kristina Moy