The Santa Set Design Brief – Key Inclusions

For shopping centres, the Santa experience is often the centrepiece of the Christmas festivities. As our Director, Dave Gardner, explains, a well-crafted Santa Set Design Brief is the first step in the creation of magical memories for your customers.

The Santa experience is the jewel of the Christmas offering, bringing a magical, physical interaction to your customers. As with all our design suites, our Santa sets need to create a memorable experience while also satisfying a range of aesthetic and practical considerations that are unique to your shopping centre.

If you’re looking to update your Santa Set, a well-crafted Design Brief is crucial to ensure that the final product delights your customers while also meeting your requirements. A comprehensive Design Brief will make the design and production process more efficient, saving you time and ensuring you get the most out of your budget.

There are many factors to consider, but addressing the questions below in your Design Brief is well worth the time.  Key elements to include are:

Target Audience

  • What are the demographics of your area and your centre?
  • Are there cultural or locally relevant preferences to consider?
  • What participation levels are you wanting to achieve?


  • What styles, themes and colour palettes do you like? For example, would you like a modern, light-based set or do traditional colours and foliage appeal more?
  • What does your centre look like and what are the rest of your centre’s decorations like? Send us photos so we can be sure the design complements your spaces and existing decorations.
  • Is the set a one-off or part of a portfolio supply that needs to align with other centres? If part of a portfolio, is a scalable design that keeps it’s ‘Brand’ across different assets suitable?

Practical Considerations

  • Where will the Santa set be located and how much floor and ceiling space is available?
  • What are your expected queue lengths? Is the queuing space included in your total space or is this in addition to the Santa Set area?
  • Is power available and where is the access point located?
  • Is the floor space level and what material is the floor surface?
  • Are there any sight line restrictions that need to be considered?

Photography Considerations

  • Will you have professional photographers, or do you offer self-managed photography?
  • If using professional photographers, what furniture is required within the set for their use? If they supply their own equipment, what equipment do they bring, how much space and what sort of layout is required?
  • Are there any major light sources or bright signage above or behind the set? For example, TV screens, windows or atriums which may need to be shielded so they don’t interfere with photography.
  • Are there any special cooling requirements for Santa? A hidden ‘Santa’ fan can be factored into the set but in some centres, where the set is placed in direct sunlight, extra cooling may be needed.

Safety Requirements

  • What safety systems do you use? If installation is included in your project, are inductions and SWMS required?
  • Are there any other centre specific issues we need to be aware of?


  • What is your project timeline? What are the due dates for submissions and when will decisions be made? What are your preferred delivery/installation dates?
  • Keep in mind that bespoke designs require sufficient time for design, approvals, manufacture and, where international suppliers are involved, shipping. For projects to be delivered in 2024, orders should be confirmed by June 2024.


  • What is your budget? When it comes to Santa sets this is a key consideration in terms of what can be included and how interactive the design can be.
  • Are you looking at a hire or purchase option? And, if you’re purchasing will you also require storage and installation costs to be quoted?
  • Is your budget for one year or are you looking for a multi-year contract where costs can be amortised?

Of course, there may be additional aspects that need to be considered for your Santa set but these questions are a great start.

A thorough, well-considered Design Brief will provide clarity and direction for everyone involved in the design, approval and delivery of your Santa set, resulting in an enchanting holiday experience for your customers.

(Article first published on Linked In, 5 March 2024)