It was a proud day for us when we took A to her first visit to Santa. I know, it's kind of a petty proud moment, but I don't have much else going on in my life right now, so let me have my proud momma moment.
It could have all gone very wrong and we could of had a very different photo. I'm glad we got out of there with this Chillin' With S. Claus photo, instead of the crying and screaming ones that end up on the Ellen Degeneres show and we giggle about them. I'm lucky and grateful that A (for the most part) enjoys this sort of thing, just like I did when I was her age.
Granted, I only tested this theory out with one child so far, but I think if you don't make a big deal out of things (bad or good), and you are just calm in your approach, your child will be too. We were very casual with the whole Santa thing. We prepped her good by mentioning his name, singing songs about him, showing pictures and videos, but you never know. We didn't squeal and hype it up. We didn't say "don't worry, it'll be okay" or anything like that. We just let her figure it all out herself and sure enough, she walked right up there and sat on that old man's lap and just stayed chill.
I guess the other advice I'd give is make sure your kid has been well slept and not fed a bunch of Little Debbie bars before the visit.