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stages toddler surviving santa

J recalls her toddler's first photo with Santa. "She was fine in line, then hysterical when I handed her over," Berry recalls. The resulting photo: "a red-faced toddler, a bewildered Santa, and me, on his lap, wearing a ski jacket and an old shirt." Oh, the memories.

To avoid that stress this year, experienced Santa-snappers suggest you; DO A DRY RUN Days before, give your child a glimpse of St. Nick from afar, says Amy Stone, owner of Jady Images in Miami. "When you come back for the actual photo, he'll be more familiar with what to expect." CARRY SUPPLIES Snacks and toys are key. Hungry kids are likelier to act out. DISTRACT "Put a piece of tape on your child's finger if he gets fidgety," says Marlboro, NJ, pbotog Jill Carert. "Sometimes that's distracting enough that he'll forget Santa's even there." PRESENT HIS REQUESTS Tie up his wish list with a bow, and have him hand it over, suggests Heather Dillon, a Scottsdale, AZ, photog. "It places the attention on Santa, not on him," THINK NARRATIVE GOLD As the Santa at Holiday World, a theme park in Santa Claus, IN, says: "Sometimes those unposed moments make the best photos." —Michelle Hainer

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