More Than Santa’s Lap: HGTV’s Santa HQ at Washington Square



{Sponsored by HGTV’s Santa HQ, but all opinions are my own. I received a free photo in exchange for my honest review.} 

It’s that time of year again where the malls and shops begin filling with lights, the decorations and trees of the season are everywhere…and in order to get your kids to see Santa, you’d usually have to wait in line for over an hour. I don’t know about you, but standing in a line for 154 minutes with a screaming one year old was NOT my idea of a fun time last year. 

Fortunately, my hopes for having a positive family experience with Santa were restored when I heard about HGTV’s interactive Santa HQ at Washington Square Mall.


For seven weeks, from Thursday, Nov. 5 through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, Santa HQ spreads holiday cheer to guests of all ages with a 21st century immersive journey that features state-of-the-art digital technology. In addition to the classic photo with Santa Claus, mall guests can take an Elfie selfie to star in their own holiday video, use Elf-Ray Vision to explore Santa’s Observatory, and test out the Naughty or Nice O’Meter.

This is amazing and brilliant because while we waited in the inevitable line (it IS Santa, after all) my son was able to keep playing with the many features inside HGTV’s interactive Santa HQ. They saved us from meltdowns because he was occupied while waiting! SANTA HQ

While visiting Santa HQ, guests can customize their individual experience by using augmented reality to view Santa’s Workshop and Observatory in a magical way. Visitors can download the Elf-Ray Vision app or use a provided tablet to discover the enchanting world of Santa HQ in stunning 2D and 3D digital scenes. Shoppers can continue their adventure with a custom photo opportunity, a visit with Santa inside his modernized sleigh, and an opportunity to enter for the chance to win $10,000 in HGTV’s Spreading Holiday Cheer Sweepstakes.


Throughout Santa HQ there are signs with instructions on how to download the interactive apps to your phone, and bring the interactivity back home as well! The Elfie Selfie app and the Elf-Ray Vision app are both available on Apple Store and GooglePlay. They encourage photos throughout all of Santa’s HQ and have so many adorable places for those great photo ops! 

But it gets even better. One thing that is so stressful about holiday pictures is you really never can tell how long it will take. HGTV’s Santa HQ solved that problem for you too. You can now make reservations to get your pictures. It’s a great way to help wrangle in your schedule this crazy holiday season and keep your little ones from getting impatient, tired, hungry, bored (you get the idea) while you wait! 

Reservations to visit the experience can be made in advance online here. HGTV knows the holidays are a special time for their network’s audience, so fans are encouraged to share their Santa HQ experience on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #loveHGTV for the chance to appear on


After getting your family pictures, if you decide you want to send grandma a picture snow globe, or an ornament from the entry-way photo op (without Santa) or an adorable picture frame, you can go online to get all your photos and order gifts! 

Some Tricks for the Best Experience

  • If you can, visit early in the season. Santa HQ is totally FREE to visit, so if you’re worried your little will be intimidated by the big man in red, the staff at HQ suggest going a few times so kids can get comfortable seeing him. 
  • Santa HQ is open both weekdays and during morning hours. So if you want to avoid the rush, trying visiting earlier in the day and during the weekdays.
  • Some of the cutest Santa photos are when littles are in their PJs (it’s when Santa does come to visit after all). So feel free to have them show up in their favorite Holiday jammies. 
  • The busiest times are generally between 2-3 p.m. and 6 – 7 .pm. If you can manage it, try avoiding those times. 
  • Make a reservation.

Santa HQ is definitely worth visiting this holiday season! It was an awesome family experience; Santa was wonderful, and we loved getting our first Santa photo as a family this year!