American Girl North Point Mall. Brunch with Santa, including framed 5x7 photo with Kris Kringle. Dec. 1. 9 a.m. 1202 North Point Cir., Alpharetta. 877-247-5223. For children 3 and older. Reservations required. $19/person.
Atlanta Botanical Garden. Bring a camera to meet Saint Nick in his dark green robe and botanical head wreath. Dec. 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-876-5859. Included with admission. Adults, $18.95; ages 3-12, $12.95; 2 and younger, free.
North Point Mall. Pajama party with Santa. Children encouraged to bring a new unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots. With a $3 donation to Toys for Tots, families will receive a customized email letter from Santa on Christmas Eve. Dec. 3, 10 and 17. 6 p.m. 1000 North Point Cir., Alpharetta. 770-740-9273. Free.
Bill Johnson Community Activity Building. Continental breakfast with Santa, music, games, dancing, face painting and crafts. Dec. 7. 9-11 a.m. 10495 Woodstock Rd., Roswell. 770-641-3760.Registration required. $21.
Booth Western Art Museum. Pictures with Cowboy Santa and Mrs. Claus. Dec. 7. 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Ornament decorating from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. 501 Museum Dr., Cartersville. 770-387-1300. Adults, $10; 12 and younger, free.
Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. Breakfast with Santa from Chick-fil-A. Includes admission to the home. Bring camera for photos with Santa. Dec. 7 and 14. 9-10:30 a.m. 980 Briarcliff Rd. NE, Atlanta. 404-872-5338. Pre-register. $20/person.
Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort. Breakfast buffet with Santa, plus free park admission with an all-attractions pass for each person, toy for each child and pictures with Santa and his elves. Benefits Friends of Disabled Adults and Children. Dec. 7. 10 a.m.-noon. 4021 Lakeview Dr., Stone Mountain. 770-491-9014. Adults, $30; ages 5-11, $20; 4 and younger, free. Registration required.
Gwinnett Historic Courthouse. Visit with Santa and make holiday crafts in the Elf Workshop. Bring camera for additional photos. Dec. 7-8; Dec. 14-15; Dec. 19-20. Thurs.-Fri. 4 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.; Sun. 1 p.m. 185 West Crogan St., Lawrenceville. 770-822-5450. Santa visit and photo, $5/child or family. Elf Workshop tickets, $1 for two crafts.
Le Meridien Atlanta Perimeter. Breakfast with Santa with live entertainement. The U.S. Marine Corps will be on-hand to collect Toys for Tots. Dec. 7. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 111 Perimeter Cir. W, Atlanta. 770-396-6800. Pre-register online: dunwoodybrunchwithsanta.eventbrite.com. Adults, $15; ages 12 and younger, $10.
Lucky Shoals Park Community Recreation Center. Breakfast and pictures with Santa with crafts. Breakfast served until 10:30 a.m. or while supplies last. Children 3 and older. Dec. 7. 9 a.m. 4651 Britt Rd., Norcross. 678-277-0860. Pre-register by Dec. 2. $5/person.
Mall of Georgia. Breakfast with Santa and holiday crafts. Dec. 7. 8:30-10 a.m. 3333 Buford Dr., Buford. 678-482-8788. $5.
Town Center at Cobb. PJ Party with Santa, cookies and milk with Mrs. Claus, plus story time, prizes, coloring and crafts. Dec. 7. 1-3 p.m. 400 Ernest W. Barrett Pkwy. NW, Kennesaw. 770-424-9486. $5.
Rhodes Hall. Visit with Santa includes entertainment and refreshments. Weekends, Dec. 7-21. Times vary. 1516 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta. 404-885-7812. $38.
Southeastern Railway Museum. Breakfast or lunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus, craft, train ride and photos. Includes admission to the museum. Sat. through Christmas. Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. Lunch, 12 p.m. 3595 Buford Hwy., Duluth. 770-476-2013. Reservations required. Breakfast and Lunch, $16 each. 1 and younger, free.
Courtyard Marriott Atlanta Downtown Decatur/Emory Conference Center. Santa arrives on a fire truck, after which families breakfast with the man in red. Dec. 14. 8-10 a.m. 130 Clairemont Ave., Decatur. 404-371-8386. Adults, $12; ages 11 and younger, $7.
Northlake Mall. Story time with Santa, plus special prizes. Dec. 14. 1-3 p.m. 4800 Briarcliff Rd., Atlanta. 770-938-3564. $5.
Sugarloaf Mills. Cookies with Santa and holiday ornament craft. Dec. 14. 2-4 p.m. 5900 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Duluth. 678-847-5000. $5/child.
Santa’s chair at a shopping mall can be a ringside seat to Christmas wonder at its best. We caught up with the man himself as he prepared to spend some time with children at Alpharetta’s North Point Mall.
Even the busiest shoppers have nothing on old Santa when it comes to hours at the mall. He recalls the Saturday that he saw eight hundred kids and parents. The yearly average is somewhere between 20 and 25 thousand family members who stand in Santa’s line at the Alpharetta mall.
One boy came armed with a calculator and had some questions for the man in red: How many houses did he visit every Christmas Eve? What time did he leave home and what time did he return? Then the child did the calculations and announced that the famous sleigh ride around the world was a near impossible feat. How could Santa do it with just three seconds for every house? So Santa let him in on a secret. “I told him that for one night every year, I can slow down time.”
He has advice as well for parents of younger children who might balk at being handed to a bearded stranger. Before you go to the mall, he says, read them a book about Santa or show them a movie in which Santa has a role. Another idea is to let them get used to a person who has a beard or even a red hat.
And, of course, Santa will be stopping by at malls all over town.
– Mary Beth Bishop