“Mommy, Daddy, look! It’s Santa! Can I tell him what I want for Christmas?”

Then IT happens.

Your child gets on Santa’s lap and she screams bloody murder. And rightfully so. After all, you spend January through November telling her not to talk to strangers, yet here you are, telling her that not only is it “ok” to sit on his lap, but to also be sure to take candy from him.

I guess it would be worse if your kids had to watch all the other kids do it and they weren’t allowed to participate. Oh, wait… We call those kids Jewish. Did you ever see the episode of “Friends” where Ross dressed up like the Hannukah armadillo because his son was half Jewish, yet was all into Santa? Well, it was very funny. I miss my “Friends.”

Speaking of friends, I’m here to give you, my friends, a little advice on how to avoid the “Screaming child on Santa’s lap” episode. Having done many parties as the white-bearded one in my day, I can honestly say that we don’t like having a screaming child on our laps. Screaming children sometimes feel the need to hit, grab or worse: relieve themselves. The human fight or flight response is a cruel joke to Santas everywhere.

So here’s a quick tutorial:
One: Test the waters. What do you do before you go into a pool? You cautiously put a toe into the water to see if it’s to your liking. Think of visiting Santa the same way. From a safe distance, see if your child is curious about Santa. If he seems to be then…

Two: Move closer to Santa – and it’s better if you don’t acknowledge him unless the child acknowledges him first. Now the best thing is if the Santa knows well enough to also follow a scared child’s lead. If the child says nothing, Santa should also say nothing. I’ve seen many a Santa scare a nervous child from a distance just by saying, “Hello.”

Getting close to Santa is one thing, sitting on his lap is a whole different ball game. Batter up!

Three: With your child in hand, stand next to Santa.  Good? Then…

Four: Kneel down next to Santa. Kid still not screaming? Moving on…

BONUS TIP – One parent should ALWAYS be at the ready to snap the photo that will line the refrigerators of Friends and Family for months. When I say at the ready, I mean that you have the camera framed up and finger on the button. As photo taker you must also be ready to trade places with the other parent. Kids are unpredictably predictable and they may have a moment where it’s imperative that the other parent take them to see Santa.

Five: Slowly – and I can’t stress this enough – slowly try placing your child on Santa’s lap and walk around in front of Santa (be sure to not be in the way of the parent taking the photo). Hopefully your child will watch the parent who set them down and you’ll have a nanosecond where the child is on Santa’s lap, looking ahead for photos, and most importantly, not screaming. Your child may seem ok, but remember, at any moment he could blow. So the parent manning the camera should be snapping away. With digital, it’s totally worth it to take a bunch of photos. You can always trash the bad ones.

There you have it. Easy.

One last thing: children change from year to year, so one year they may looooooove Santa and the next they don’t want to be in the same room with him. Saying stuff like, “Well you liked him last year” doesn’t help the situation and it’s just plain mean. Don’t be a bad Mommy or Daddy and be sure to follow your child’s cues.

If you’re the type of parent that enjoys photos of your kids screaming on Santa’s lap, then disregard everything that I said and make sure to pinch them before you hand them over to the bearded stranger in red with candy to insure that you get that cruel photo that your child will always hate you for when they are older.

I would love to hear your Santa stories. And see pictures, feel free to post them here or on my Fan Page on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hollywood-Clown/

Happy Holidays from The Hollywood Clown!

“Don’t step in the elephant poop, Barney.”

I looked down to see a big steaming pile of shit right at my feet. “Thanks for the heads up.”

“Can you believe all THIS for a two year old’s birthday? Must be nice to have money.”

Judging by my surroundings I would have to agree that “Yes, it must be nice to have money.” Too bad it can’t buy common sense. At this particular party it wasn’t the elephant rides that seemed the most odd to me, it was what was next to the ten-foot tall beverage fountain placed inside a temperature-controlled tent: A life-size ice sculpture of the parents holding the birthday child. It was more creepy than impressive.

I’ve seen more people piss away boatloads of money throwing birthday parties for one and two year olds than the government spends on “defense” in a year. I mean really, come on people. I realize that out here in L.A. everything is a competition, and kids parties are no exception. L.A. has a gross abundance of peeps that make more money in a month than some countries make in a year. And if they don’t, they try to make it look like they do.

“Can you believe their last movie only made 75 million? Ours always make at least 150. And that’s not including international grosses.”

People of all tax brackets are catty. It’s just that us common folks’ incomes aren’t splattered across every rag mag for all to see.

Then these people feel the need to throw their kids a birthday party that rivals that of any state fair. I hate to break it to you folks, but your kid is never going to remember a single moment of the event. Let’s be honest with ourselves rich folks – and you know who you are – the party is really for you, so that you can show all your “friends” (and I use the term very lightly) the size of your dick… Oops! I mean the size of your bank account.

If you’re going to blow that kind of cash at least wait until the kid is old enough to remember it. (I would say “appreciate,” but very few kids nowadays appreciate anything. There are some that do, but they’re a rare breed and if you yourself have an appreciative kid, commend yourself as a parent on a job well done.) I was at a party once where the dad hired the gymnast from the U.S.A. Olympic Gymnast Team to come and perform. His son was turning eight years old and could at least enjoy and remember the party. So that was money extravagantly well spent.

I know it’s your right to spend your money how you want. It’s also my right to bitch about it. After one of these parties I would sit at home eating my watered down tomato soup and think “How the fuck are you people good at business?” Wasting that much money on a child’s party does not sound like very good business to me, unless of course you can write it off as an entertaining expense for business relations? Hmmm?

Thankfully, I have come across some publicly wealthy people that kept it simple for their kids’ first and second birthdays. Two people whose parenting skills I was truly impressed with were Steven Speilberg and Cindy Crawford.

For one of Steven Speilberg and Kate Capshaw’s daughter’s second birthday, he (and by “he” I mean one of his many assistants) hired me and a few others to be the four Teletubbies – oh, sorry, the four Alien Babies. We danced and sang songs while some of the kids watched and a few joined in. Nice and simple. I did get the opportunity on my break to discuss with Steven the intricacies and fascination that kids have with the Alien Babies.

“Why do you think that the kids love the teletubbies so much?”
“Well Steven, I have a few theories on that subject.”

I, of course, went home that night and updated my acting resume since I had discussed my acting strategies for my character with Steven. Plus, he was running his home video camera so technically, I was directed by him.
Purple Alien Baby with purse played by Jason Lassen – Steven Speilberg director.

Similar to the Spielberg’s, Cindy Crawford wanted to keep her son’s first birthday party simple and basic. Just how a first birthday party should be. Cindy had a small list of things that she wanted the performer to do: sing, dance, bubbles, puppets, parachute games, and Ring Around the Rosie. She was also nervous about having someone show up in a costume, but was willing to take the chance that her son would like Elmo, aka Red Monster, in person as much as he does on TV. Cindy requested that the performer be gentle, and more importantly, be able to do the Red Monster voice; two requirements that made me the man for the job.

Cindy was the best. She played all the games with us and insisted that “Red Monster” take a break halfway into the party. When I was in the kitchen taking my break she came in to visit me.

“You’re doing great. The kids are having so much fun, and my son’s not even scared of you. Take as long as you need before you come back out.”

And yes, she’s more beautiful in person than on TV or in any magazine, both inside and out.

It’s nice to see that some of the wealthiest people here in L.A. know how to keep things real. Small child equals small party. If I were rich would I throw my kids a humongous grossly overpriced and unrealistic birthday party? You bet your ass I would! But not until they were turning four or five, and might have a shot at remembering a thing or two about their party.

My final words of advice to parents of soon-to-be one or two-year-olds: Keep it simple. Family and close friends are all you need; there will be plenty of time to spend lots of money on your kids and their birthday parties. So save your money while you can, the bigger the kid, the bigger and more expensive the toys get.

“I AM a Hollywood Clown”