Sensory-Friendly Santa Visits in Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor

Santa tones down his holiday decor and makes himself available to kids with special needs during these sensory-friendly Santa visits around town.

Girl in wheelchair whispering to Santa

During the holiday season, Santa pops up just about everywhere in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. And that includes some very special sensory-friendly Santa visits for kids in southeast Michigan.

After all, this Christmas tradition can be a bit overwhelming for children with special needs.

Santa appearances in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor tend to be higher energy events filled with holiday music, lines of eager kids and bubbly helper elves ushering kids into a wonderland filled with sugar plums and twinkling lights – all topped off by a visit with the jolliest elf of them all.

It’s a scene right out of a storybook that most kids adore.

And, thanks to some unique sensory-friendly Santa visits, little ones with special needs can most definitely get in on the festive fun, too.

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This year, Santa is offering local “caring” events that are toned-down and tailored to kids with sensory-processing disorders and other special needs. Browse our list to find a special needs-friendly Santa event near you.

Note: Be sure to check ahead; in some cases, registration is required – and further ensures the experience is a memorable success for your child.

Caring Santa at Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor

Dec. 1, 2019

  • Address: Briarwood Mall, 100 Briarwood Circle, Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 734-769-9610
  • Time: 9-10:30 a.m.
  • Cost: free/visit, fees/photos

Santa offers a private photo experience that caters to the sensory, physical and developmental needs of all kids at this event. Photo package price ranges. All abilities welcome. Registration required.

Sensory Sensitive Santa at Apollo Elementary School in Highland

Dec. 6, 2019

  • Address: 2029 N. Milford Road, Highland
  • Phone: 248-676-8390
  • Time: 4-6 p.m.
  • Cost: $5

Kids get 10 whole minutes to visit with a sensory-friendly Santa Claus in a sensory-friendly environment. Register in advance to claim your time slot.

Deaf Santa at Oxford High School  

Dec. 7, 2019

  • Address: 745 N. Oxford Road, Oxford
  • Time: Noon-3 p.m.
  • Cost: $5/person

A very special Santa communicate to kids with hearing loss at this special Santa event.

Santa Cares at the Macomb Mall in Roseville

Dec. 8, 2019

  • Address: 32233 Gratiot Ave., Roseville
  • Phone: 586-293-7800
  • Time: 9-10:30 a.m.
  • Cost: Free/visit; fees/photos (invite only)

Kids on the autism spectrum and their families enjoy a free and private visit with Santa before the mall opens.

Sensory Santa at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills

Dec. 8, 2019

  • Address: 4000 Baldwin Road, Auburn Hills
  • Phone: 248-454-5000
  • Time: 9:30-10:45 a.m.
  • Cost: Free/visit, fees/photos

Santa sets up shop at this regional outlet center to visit with kids who have sensory needs. Find a calming and sensory-minimal environment where kids can give him their wish lists. Registration required.

Holly Jolly Holiday at the Madison Heights Community Center

Dec. 11, 2019

  • Address: 29448 John R. Road, Madison Heights
  • Phone: 248-424-7081
  • Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Cost: $12/participant, $6/caregiver

Adults, ages 18-plus, with developmental disabilities and their caregivers enjoy an evening of holiday music and dancing, topped with a visit from Santa. Registration required.

Looking for even more special needs events for kids in metro Detroit? Check out the Metro Parent calendar

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