The Oaks mall - Santa HQ

I’m an absolute sucker for the holidays. There’s nothing quite like getting in the mood for the festive season with your family, whether it’s by decorating your home, baking holiday treats, or visiting Santa with the young ones. This year, since Sarah and I don’t have kids yet, we wanted to do something fun with our nieces. We headed to The Oaks in Thousand Oaks to get a first-hand experience at HGTV’s Santa HQ.

Santa HQ Locations

This year, you can find HGTV’s Santa HQ in 15 of Macerich’s properties across the U.S. Some of these densely populated markets include: California, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Arizona. HGTV has created a highly immersive experience that revolutionizes the traditional Santa Claus visit, featuring state-of-the-art digital technology, providing an extraordinary interactive holiday event.

Naughty or Nice O’Meter

First things, first, have you been naughty or nice this year? Let the ‘Naughty or Nice O’Meter’ decide. Simply step where it says ‘Stand Here’ on the floor, and the meter will give you the answer.

My niece Angelena had a sigh of relief when she got the reading of ‘Nice’. Phew, that was a close one.

Santa HQ Naught or Nice O'Meter
Angelena waiting to see whether or not she was Naughty or Nice

Santa HQ’s Elf Academy

New this year, and quite possibly my nieces’ favorite thing about Santa HQ, was the Elf Academy. Santa’s elves have a bunch of fun activities for the family to experience together. If you watch my embedded video below, you will see some of the things offered inside Santa HQ‘s Elf Academy. Unfortunately, during our visit, Santa’s Magic Mirror wasn’t working, but I’ve seen it in action online, and it looks super cool. Elves in training can try on different elf fashions through a magical mirror. An elegant way of using augmented reality.

The Oaks - Elf Academy

Other fun activities you’ll discover once inside are various augmented reality activations using the Elf-Ray Vision app. Elf Academy guests can use their iOS or Android device, or the iPads provided. Once you’re done playing with your elf pals Jack and Strawberry, you can create your own shareable Elf ID Cards.

Santa HQ Elf Academy Activies
Santa HQ Elf Academy Activities
Using Elf-Ray Vision app in the Elf Academy
Using Elf-Ray Vision app in the Elf Academy

Would I go back to HGTV’s Santa HQ?

Heck yes! There is no greater joy than seeing a child get excited for the holidays, and I’m grateful I was able to do that for my nieces. Below is a compilation of short clips I edited together from our day together at Santa HQ. Thanks for the fun times, HGTV!

This post is sponsored by HGTV’s Santa HQ. All opinions are 100% my own.