Your guide to mall Santas: A cautionary tale

Can we all agree that Christmas needs to calm the eff down?

It's only December 5, and already parents from all over the suburbs are dressing their kids up in adorably horrifying outfits, braving the crowds, and standing in lines for hours on end, all to get that delightful picture of their child screaming hysterically on Santa's lap.

Like it or not, having your picture taken with Santa Claus is a rite of passage for many children. And while that may be a terrifying notion in and of itself, it can get even worse if you don't thoroughly vet your choice in Santas. That's why this week we're hooking you up with the three easy tips for identifying the worst Santas of the season.

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Beware of tie-dye

There are a lot of things that we can overlook when it comes to the big man's attire. Discoloration, cigarette burns, and even the occasional bloodstain can all be explained, as long as the basics of the costume are consistent: red suit, white beard, and so forth.

What isn't excusable, however, is a jolly gentleman attempting to buck tradition by wearing a multi-colored hook up with no holiday flavor whatsoever. It's like when Starburst started making candy canes: We were all intrigued, but we knew there was something about it that was just wrong.

If you see an impostor rocking a set of tie-dyed overalls, don't put your kids on his lap. Because you don't know where he's been (hint: jail).

Don't trust a skinny Santa

Look, we don't want to throw around stereotypes, but when it comes to being the big man in red, skinny bros need not apply. 

That's not to say that gentlemen of the thinner stature can't choose from a plethora of other yuletide characters: reindeer, Krampus, Christmas Gumby, etc. Just don't go trying to snatch up the big job.

Chances are if you see a skinny Santa at a mall near you, the real Santa is either sick, or he was murdered by his skinny understudy. Both are very likely, but one more than the other.

Again, we're not trying to alarm anyone, but skinny Santa is a murderer. You've been warned.

Santa doesn't eat dubious meals from the food court

After a long day of taking photos and chatting with toddlers about their biggest dreams, even Santa needs a few minutes of downtime to refuel. If you see Santa -- even the REAL Santa himself -- chowing down on some brownish concoction from LeeAnn Chin with a plastic fork, and topping it off with some red cherry frozen yogurt: RUN. Santa has been compromised. His judgment cannot be trusted.

You've got three weeks, everybody. Be cool, keep your eyes open, and choose your Santa wisely.

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