Why Times Are Tough for Your Average Santa

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Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Just because everyone out there’s thinking it, doesn’t it make any less worthy: this holiday season for Santa has been more “no, no, no,” than “ho, ho, ho.”

Santas are finally feeling the pinch and it ain’t pretty. The once sure-fire seasonal booking that was the sweet gig of $125 an hour to visit a holiday party has seemingly bitten the dust (NewsFeed apologizes for not coming up with a better pun based on a chimney sweep). “This year has been a bust as far as making any money,” Craig McTavish told the AP. “I’ve booked nothing. Usually there’s always something for Christmas Eve, but I don’t even have that.”

(See the top 10 bad Santas.)

But before you feel as if we ought to chip in and save Santa, it’s worth knowing that the majority of them out there — spoiler alert! — are freelancers, who are not solely relying on the Christmas income (don’t tell the children!). Nevertheless, Nicholas Trolli, the president of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas (there are 1,700 of ’em!) reckons that his members’ bookings are down around 25%. The Santas who were once able to command 40 events a season are down to under 10 and those who booked 10 events are down to none.

(See pictures of Christmas coming to the White House.)

Dressing the part isn’t exactly cheap either: A fake-fur red jacket, hat, pants and boots can cost upward of $1,000 and woe, woe, woe betide you if you can’t grow your own convincing beard. “I glue my beard on — no one else does that,” said Walter J. Wood — also known as Santa Woody — who is based in Phoenix. “I can eat a cookie in front of a kid and the kid won’t know.” Perhaps so Santa Woody, but if the kids start offering you presents, the gig may well be up.