If your head’s at risk of imploding if you hear Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas one more time, or see yet another poor soul clutching a tacky panic-bought toiletry gift set or three, here’s a little something to lighten your festive mood – a trip to Santa Claus School in Upstate in New York, circa 1961!

For $75, wannabe Santas could sign up to a five-day training course at Charles Howard’s Santa Claus School in a little town called Albion. If they passed, they left with a certificate which would allow them to get jobs at local department stores. The school opened in 1937 and still exists today in Michigan.

In 1961, the renowned LIFE photographer, Alfred Eisenstaedt, went behind-the-scenes to see real-life Santa Claus’s being put through their paces… So grab a spiced latte, put your slippered feet up, and let’s have a flick through the archives!

Santa learning to dance. Who knew?!
Above and below: Putting Santa Claus through his paces. Learning the worst-case scenario situations as Santa!

Getting fitted for a cuddly Santa Claus ‘belly’.
Learning how to be jolly!
Perfecting that all-important ‘ho ho ho’ belly laugh.
Getting into character with the essential white wavy wig.
Santa School founder, Charles Howard, showing students how much of Santa’s face should show between wig and beard.

Ta da! A bona fide Santa Claus, ready for business!

Via here.

Psst. Meet the ice-skating cocktail waiters of San Moritz.

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