For­eign or Chi­nese Santa? Check bud­get

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHANG KUN in Shang­hai zhangkun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Santa Clauses can be busy dur­ing the Christ­mas sea­son — es­pe­cially the for­eign San­tas.

Those with for­eign faces are in high de­mand by lux­ury brands be­cause they re­sem­ble the “ac­tual” Santa Claus more than Chi­nese mod­els. Less dis­crim­i­nat­ing in­sti­tu­tions and fam­i­lies usu­ally choose a Chi­nese Santa.

“Our Christ­mas ser­vices ended a week early be­cause all of our mod­els were booked,” said Hu Meng, a Shang­haibased agent for brands such as Cartier and Swarovski with for­eign mod­els.

All of the agency’s mod­els are for­eign­ers, with the ma­jor­ity com­ing from the Nether­lands and New Zealand. It even of­fers fe­male San­tas.

Most of the brands only want mod­els to pose for pic­tures; some oth­ers ask their Santa Claus to pass out small gifts or greet cus­tomers.

Hu said there’s re­ally no es­ti­mate on the num­ber of mod­els be­cause they’re sta­tioned all over the coun­try, in­clud­ing in Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Shen­zhen. Price ranges from 3,000 to 10,000 yuan ($430-$1,430) for a com­mer­cial event that usu­ally lasts for sev­eral hours.

But among the for­eign­faced San­tas in Shang­hai, the most “orig­i­nal” is be­lieved to be the one who comes from Santa Claus Vil­lage in La­p­land re­gion of Fin­land.

It is said there are only 50 such orig­i­nal San­tas from that spe­cial area, and Shang­hai was lucky to have one again this year thanks to a Christ­mas ac­tiv­ity by the Kerry Park­side de­vel­op­ment.

“This year, we have a new kind of ser­vice that pro­vides chil­dren with the op­por­tu­nity to re­ceive gifts from the Santa,” a cus­tomer ser­vice staff mem­ber sur­named Feng said on Fri­day.

The woman, who de­clined to give her full name be­cause of com­pany pol­icy, said the shop­ping mall hired the Santa to work from 1 pm to 9 pm, Fri­day through Sun­day.

Cus­tomers can chat with and even re­ceive gifts from this Santa — for a price. He is not just a ran­dom ex­pat dressed in red, Feng said, but is some­one who “has been trained in the role, with a cer­tifi­cate for it”.

Yet for in­sti­tu­tions on a tighter bud­get, a Santa born in China will do just fine.

A prop­erty man­age­ment com­pany in Shang­hai of­fers some help giv­ing out gifts to chil­dren from their par­ents. A Chi­nese Santa will come to a res­i­dent’s home.

“I can’t wait to see my boy’s re­ac­tion when Santa gives him the pack­age,” said Sammi Wu, mother of a 4-year-old boy.

San­tas played by fam­ily mem­bers bring joy, too. Liang Yu, a father in Bei­jing, has been dress­ing up for three years.

“It is fun, and is a unique way of bond­ing between me and my son,” he said. With the white eye­brows and beard cov­er­ing much of his face, and an im­pro­vised Santa voice, he has suc­ceeded so far.

JD.com, an on­line shop­ping plat­form, is dress­ing up its de­liv­ery driv­ers as Santa Clauses in 87 Chi­nese cities from Dec 21 to 25 — and they’ll be work­ing ex­tra hard to en­sure cus­tomers’ Christ­mas gifts ar­rive on time.

I can’t wait to see my boy’s re­ac­tion when Santa gives him the pack­age.” Sammi Wu, mother of a 4-year-old boy in China are see­ing de­liv­ery driv­ers for JD.com dressed up as Santa Claus. The driv­ers will con­tinue un­til Dec 25.

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