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Sensitive Santas Around Seattle, the Eastside and South Sound

Santa encounters for kids with sensory or special needs

author Jessica Plesko
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Published on: November 18, 2021

Sensitive Santa

Photos of your kids with Santa are a time-honored holiday tradition for many families. But the jingling bells, long lines and noisy crowds that are typical of many Santa photo sessions just don’t work for some families.

Luckily, there are lots of opportunities to meet with Santa in a kinder, gentler situation — with fewer other people, less noise and minimal hustle and bustle. Sensitive Santas make sweet holiday photos possible for families with sensory-sensitive kids, children on the autism spectrum or with other special needs.

Read on for sensitive Santas around Seattle, the Eastside and South Sound, and book soon: Santa's appointment times fill up fast.

Santa Cares

Alderwood Mall invites all children and adults with special needs and abilities, to come to the mall before it opens for Santa pictures. The experience allows for extra time to get comfortable and is a quieter, less stressful environment. 

Location: Alderwood Mall, Lynnwood
Date: Sundays, Dec.5 and Dec.12, 9:30–10:30 a.m.
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available for purchase

Sensitive Santa

This Santa creates a sensory-friendly visit by muting music and lights and offering activities, crafts and snacks during wait times.

Location: The Outlet Collection, Auburn
Date: Sundays, Dec. 5 and Dec.12; 9–10:30 a.m.
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available to purchase

Sensory-Friendly Santa

Children within every spectrum of special needs and their families are invited to a private, 15-minute photo session to experience the time-honored tradition of a visit with Santa Claus. Photo purchases help support Autism Speaks.

Location: Issaquah Commons
Date: Sundays, Dec. 5 and Dec. 12, 8:30–10:30 a.m. (We are still confirming the times for 2021).
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available for purchase

Special Santa

The Can Do Initiative provides children with disabilities and their families, two COVID-safe ways to visit Santa this year, virtually or on your very own doorstep. Sign-up to see Santa online or to get a visit from the Santa Mobile at your home — Santa is scheduled to visit generally Eastside areas. (People outside of that area are encouraged to reach out to see if Santa is able to make a trip to your house). Participants will also receive a special craft box when Santa arrives and can take photos with him.

Location: Online or at your home 
Date: Saturday, Dec. 11, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Book: Online; one spot per family
Cost: Free

Caring Santa

Caring Santa in Tacoma takes place before mall opening to reduce sensory stimuli. Register for your 15-minute appointment.

Location: Tacoma Mall, Tacoma
Date: Sunday, Dec. 12, 10–11:30 a.m
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available to purchase

Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated for 2021.

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