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Curious children can tell you that Santa can be an elusive fellow. But if you want to whisper your wishes in his ear or double-check your Nice List status before Christmas, we’ve got your guide for spotting Santa and getting your list into his jolly, mittened hands.

Photos with Santa

The most classic Santa experience is photos will the big guy surrounded by holiday splendor (and maybe some shopping).

Northshore Mall, Peabody: Santa is available from now to Dec. 24. On Dec. 6, private sessions will be available for children with special needs and their families, and on Nov. 28 and Dec. 5, pets can get their own audience with Santa. Reserve a time at the mall website.

Burlington Mall, Burlington: As in Peabody, Santa will be on-site until Christmas Eve. Private sessions for families with special needs can be booked for Dec. 5 or Dec. 12, and pets get their turn to whisper their wish list in Santa’s ear on Nov. 21, Nov. 28, Dec. 5, and Dec. 12. Reservations can be made online.

Photo courtesy of Simon Property Group

Santa’s Workshop, Newburyport: For small-town holiday charm, visit Newburyport’s Santa’s Workshop, a cozy shed where he works his North Shore magic. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout December he is available for photos and listening to wish lists. More information available on the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce website.

Hometown Holidays Visit with Santa, The Community House, Hamilton: The Community House continues a longstanding tradition by decking its hall for the holiday and hosting photos with Santa on Nov. 27 and 28, and Dec. 4 and 5. Reservations can be made online, but hurry – they’re booking up fast.

Santa takes to the sea

Forget the sleigh: North shore residents know that Santa Claus really arrives by boat.

Newburyport’s Santa Parade & Tree Lighting, Nov. 28, 3-6 p.m.: For Santa’s first maritime appearance, he and Mrs. Claus arrive by Coast Guard boat in downtown Newburyport, dock at the boardwalk, parade through downtown, then lead a tree lighting and carols. More information available here.

Santa arrives in Newburyport

Marblehead Christmas Walk, Dec. 4, 9:30 a.m.: After a week of rest, Santa sails into town again to greet fans at State St. Landing in Marblehead as part of the 50th Annual Christmas Walk.

Christmas in Rockport, Dec. 4, 1 p.m.: Then, later that day, Santa cruises over to Rockport. He will arrive at the town’s T Wharf, then ride aboard a fire truck to the First Baptist Church. He will spend some time mingling with children both naughty and nice, before presiding over the town’s tree lighting ceremony at 4 p.m. More information available here.

Spot Santa on land

Santa’s Arrival, Salem, Nov. 26, 6 p.m.: To catch the big guy’s first post-Thanksgiving appearance, gather on the Salem Common to watch as he arrives via fire truck to the Hawthorne Hotel. Santa will then proceed down Essex St. to assist the mayor with a tree lighting ceremony to kick off the season.

Beverly Holiday Parade, Nov. 28, 1 p.m.: For a peek at Santa and a lot more holiday cheer, line up along the parade rout in Beverly for the annual holiday parade, a tradition since 1947. Check out the route map to plan your Santa-sighting strategy.

Photo courtesy of Hammond Castle Museum

Breakfast with Santa, Create & Escape, Peabody, Dec. 4, 10 a.m.: Enjoy tasty treats, make some holiday crafts, and spend some quality time with Santa at this DIY event. Book tickets on the venue website.

Santa Claus at the Castle, Hammond Castle, Gloucester, Dec. 17: Visit with Santa in an enchanting castle. Though he’ll be keeping his social distance, Santa will listen to Christmas wishes and each child gets a wrapped present to take home. Reserve a 15-minute slot at the castle website.

Santa’s Helpers

Sometimes Santa gets stuck at the North Pole, supervising the workshop and he has to send someone else to meet his fans.

Santa Letter Drop Off & Meet and Greet, Hammond Castle, Gloucester, Nov. 30: Little ones can drop off their letters to Santa for express delivery to the North Pole, then say hello to some of his elves, who will be visiting for the occasion. Some kid-favorite costumed characters will also put in an appearance. Visit the castle website to reserve tickets.

Mrs. Claus’ Holiday Hoopla, Long Hill, Beverly: Visit one of the area’s most beautiful estates to make a unique ornament, makes s’mores at an outdoor firepit, explore the decorated mansion, and mingle with Mrs. Claus. Dec. 11, 12, 18, and 19, with several times available each day. Tickets available at the Trustees website.

Mrs. Claus at ZooLights, Stone Zoo, Stoneham: ZooLights is always a delightful, illuminated holiday spectacle, but to make it even more special, visit on a Tuesday evening for a visit with Mrs. Claus (Santa will be back at the North Pole getting ready for the big day). Tickets to ZooLights available at the Stone Zoo website.

Farm Nisse Celebration, Appleton Farms, Ipswich, Dec. 18 and 19: Celebrate the Scandinavian tradition of the Nisse, an elf who brings good fortune to farmers and, in some tellings, hands out presents on Christmas Eve. The Appleton Farms even honors the winter solstice with treats, crafts, stories, and an appearance by the Nisse. Learn more or reserve tickets online.