Seeing Santa can get pretty overwhelming with the crowds, long lines and noise. These events fix all of that, but sign up quickly because spots are filling up already. We’ll add more events as they come in.
Special Kids Day
One of our favorite events is always the free Special Kids Day at Wilder Mansion in Elmhurst 3:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 2. It is designed for children of all ages with special needs, their siblings and families to celebrate the joy of the holidays in an environment planned for their unique needs. Santa will be there ready to have a picture taken with him to take home, and he has a wonderful gift bag, too. Plus, there are face painters, balloon blowers, a craft to make, music, story time, homemade cookies and even a quiet room. (630) 530-7700, specialkidsday.org
Naperville Santa House
In Naperville, Santa opens his little house on the Riverwalk at Jackson Avenue and Webster Street for families with special needs 5-8 p.m. Dec. 1-3. Admission is free, with photos available for $8 or two for $15. (630) 848-5000
If you still like the idea of visiting Santa in the mall, Simon malls offer a special Caring Santa. Orland Square Mall in Orland Park (Nov. 22) and Gurnee Mills Mall in Gurnee (Dec. 6), both Simon properties, as of Nov. 18 have a few spots still open for its Caring Santa, while Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg has already sold out. Orland Square will hold a second event if the first date sells out so keep checking simon.com/caring-santa-2015.
Tis the Season of Special Needs Giving
The Autism Family Foundation is celebrating the holidays with refreshments, crafts, activities and a visit with Santa at the Stonebridge Country Club in Aurora Dec. 19. The first 100 children with special needs (including siblings) from DuPage and Kane counties to RSVP will receive a toy from Santa. RSVP by Dec. 10 at www.autismfamilyfoundation.net.
This article has been updated for 2015.