Say Cheese! Santa Photos Around Seattle

Long lines?  Stuffy malls?  Crying kids?  Expensive photo packages?  Bring it on!  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without the infamous Santa photo!  Though it can be a hassle, it’s a beloved tradition for families all around, and so cool to collect the photos from over the years (yes, even the scowling, screaming ones). 

santa photo

The Classic Santa

Despite long lines and expensive photo packages, these Santa venues deliver a hefty dose of holiday spirit and remain a beloved tradition for many families. 

Downtown Nordstrom

Awesome displays, the magic of Downtown Seattle at Christmas, and Elves who hand out cookies and hot cider…it couldn’t be anywhere but the Downtown Nordstrom.  The line will most likely be long, but get this– Nordstrom will take your name and page you when it’s your turn to see Santa!  There are eight rotating Santas on the schedule, including an African-American Santa and an Asian Santa. There’s even a Santa that knows ASL (American Sign Language). For special needs kids or large groups, Santa can meet you in a smaller room, away from the crowds.  Call Santa Lane at 206-628-1000 for more details.  **All photos are in film, available for pick up (or delivery) in about 5 days.




Santa Claus will be settling in on the 6th floor this year, along with his elves and reindeer.  Have your kids write Santa a letter to mail in his own personal mailbox.   

macys santa


Bellevue Square

Santa’s Workshop is in full gear at Bell Square.  The line wanders through Santa’s shop, and kiddos can get a sneak peek of what the elves have been up to.   Santa’s life-size sleigh (reindeer and all) soar above the shoppers, and outside, Snowflake Lane celebrates nightly at 7pm.  As with all large mall venues, it’s best if you can rally a grandparent to switch off standing in the line, so you can take your antsy kiddos to play on the 3rd floor boats. 

Alderwood Mall

This Santa has a reputation of being one of the most realistic, long beard and all.  He’s been around for nearly a decade, and has gained quite a following. 


Redmond Town Center



Forget-the-Mall Santa

Here are a few photo venues that are a step outside the box , or rather, mall.

University Village

Well, it’s an open-air mall at least.  Fittingly situated across from Fran’s Chocolates, Santa’s little cabin is cozy and perfect for one-on-one discussions of toys and wish lists. Don’t miss the covered play area and Santa’s sleigh near Ben Bridge.  **Every Monday Santa takes photos with pets and a portion of sales from pet photos is donated to the Seattle Humane Society.

village santa


Lake Forest Park

Bring back memories from your childhood while you make memories with your own kiddos.  The Town Center at Lake Forest Park has the original Santa set from Downtown Seattle’s Frederick & Nelson. 

Space Needle

After visiting Santa in his ultra-cool “workship,” kiddos are invited to the cookie decoration station on the Observation Deck where they can decorate a complimentary Christmas cookie.


You won’t find Santa sitting around here.  He’ll be up and about every weekend, mingling with shoppers, stopping to pose for photos.  The entirety of Molbak’s is like a shrine to Christmas.  Always gorgeously decorated, moms will enjoy shopping while kiddos get a kick out of the Christmas villages and Santa himself.  Be sure to bring your camera! 

Beautiful Poinsettia Christmas Tree

Beautiful Poinsettia Christmas Tree

Swanson’s Reindeer Festival

See Dasher and Blitzen during the Reindeer Festival, and take photos with Santa in this neighborhood gem.

Issaquah Reindeer Festival

Visit Santa’s Reindeer team and stop by Santa’s personal post office to mail a letter on your way to his workshop for a photo.  There is a ton of holiday excitement going on at the Reindeer Festival @ Cougar Mountain Zoo!

reindeer issaquah santa


Santa Paws

Don’t forget your furry friends when it comes to Santa photos!  Here are a few venues that cater to your four-legged little ones. 

santa pet

Home 4 the Holidays & Santa Paws at Seattle Humane Society
December 7-9

The Seattle Humane Society will offer adoption discounts, festive carolers, pet pics with Santa and more at Seattle Humane’s Home for the Holidays Extravaganza!  For three days only, adopt one kitten for $50 or two for $90. On Saturday, Dec. 8, have your pet’s photo taken with Santa Paws from 11 am – 2 pm ($20 suggested donation for digital download).

Adoption fees are waived on all cats 1 year and up and all critters through December.

Woodinville PetSmart

Bring in your pet for a photo with Santa for only $9.95 with Pet Perks®. Plus, $5 from every purchase will be donated to the local animal-welfare organization participating that day!

Santa Paws at the Alexis Hotel

It’s time again for a fun annual holiday tradition. Bring your pets to the pet-friendly Alexis Hotel in downtown Seattle the weekend of December 8-9 to have their photo taken with Santa Paws! With a $15 donation, you’ll be sent a wonderful keepsake digital photo, ideal for printing and framing. All proceeds benefit the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation (SASF) and our efforts to help enrich the lives of shelter animals.

The event takes place Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m

Happy Santa Photos!!

santa photo

All About Reindeer

Reindeer Festival at Swanson’s Nursery

Everyone knows that from now until December 24th, Santa’s reindeer will be busy training for their big debut.  Today we caught a glimpse of Dasher and Blitzen (and a verrry curious camel named Curley) at Swanson’s Nursery.   Locally owned and enormously loved, Swanson’s has been providing exceptional garden plants and goods since 1924.  Today, the Nursery was dressed up for the Holidays, with Christmas wreathes and delicate ornaments, poinsettias and sweet-smelling pine cones.  And of course, the Reindeer. 

Reindeer feedings daily at 10am and 4pm

Along with the reindeer, Curley the Camel was out to say hello.  He’s known as the “curious” camel, and indeed he is!


My son loved the train in the gift shop.

…And the impressively enormous Koi near the Nursery’s Seasons Cafe was a big hit for the kids.

Reindeer Craft

I found this cute Reindeer craft via Pinterest.  Here’s the original source with directions.

And for the reindeer treat…

Reindeer Food!  There are many ways to make this, but I opted for the tastiest one.  (You can also make reindeer food out of uncooked oatmeal, glitter, sprinkles, etc…)  This one uses the Chex Muddy Buddies recipe.  I know kids like this, and I’ve heard reindeer do too.

After the Muddy Buddies are cooled, put them in a baggie or a mason jar and label it Reindeer Food, including directions on when and how to use it.


Here’s an idea using a bag with directions.

Happy reindeer-viewing!

What’s Happening This Weekend?

Another weekend is on the horizon!  Here’s my post for 425 Mom.  Look what’s happening this weekend on the Eastside!  (Plus one event at the Zoo).

Turkey Toss at the Woodland Park Zoo

It’s turkey-tossing time at the Woodland Park Zoo!  Following the same idea as last month’s Pumpkin Bash, kids can watch how the Zoo’s most beloved carnivores nosh on their Thanksgiving dinners.  And like the Pumpkin Bash, the Turkey Toss is part of the Zoo’s exceptional care program, designed to enrich the lives of the animals through mental and physical stimulation as well as the promotion of natural animal behavior.  So come and wish the animals a Happy Thanksgiving and watch them chow down!

Saturday November 17, 10am-2:30pm

Free with admission or membership

Didn’t know these guys ate turkey.

Hopelink’s 12th Annual Turkey Trot

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving on the Eastside without the annual Turkey Trot!  Grab your running shoes, jogging stroller and the family and head over to Marina Park for this 5K walk/run.  All proceeds go to Hopelink.  Participants will enjoy door prizes, music and goodies from participating vendors!

Sunday, November 18

Registration 10am; Run/walk 11am

$35 to register

Karl Johnson Portrait Silhouettes

This beautiful (and now rare) form of portraiture is still being practiced by renowned artist Karl Johnson.  Johnson cuts each silhouette freehand, catching the likeness of his subject, either live or from a photograph. Past clients include Tom Hanks and Katie Holmes, and his work has been featured in O Magazine, among others.  Visit Johnson in Bellevue this Friday and watch art in the making!  Perfect for a keepsake gift.

Friday, November 17


Peek Aren’t You Curious @ Bellevue Square

Call 425-533-2104 to reserve your 5-minute appointment.


**Other places: Saturday/Bainbridge Island & Sunday/University Village

Reindeer Sightings at Swanson’s Nursery

Get in the Christmas spirit and take your kiddos to visit Santa’s Reindeer!  Dasher and Blitzen (very much alive!) will be making their home at Swanson’s Nursery every day until Christmas Eve, when they will be dashing away on their very important job.  Curely the Curious Camel will be joining them as well.  Daily feedings at 10am and 4pm.  Come wish the Reindeer a Merry Christmas!

Tim Noah’s Eats & Beats Concert

Emmy award-winning songwriter, singer and performer Tim Noah is stopping by KidQuest this Saturday for a rockin’ good time!  Sing, dance and hear some fantastic storytelling while you chow down on Jet City pizza and sip lemonade.  Kids and adults alike will enjoy this Eats and Beats event!

Saturday, November 17


KidsQuest Museum, Factoria

Advance Tickets: $8 members/$10 non-members

At the Door: $10 members / $12 non-members
$3 Jet City pizza & lemonade

Pre-registration recommended; call 425-637-8100 to order pizza.

Emmy-award winning Tim Noah