In the history of Santa Claus, the jolly old man and his reindeer have never missed a year, never skipped a beat, and always brought joy year after year. As business-minded professionals, we were curious as to how Santa Claus’ operations work during the 364 days of preparation for the big night!

We know Santa has many elves helping him globally such as the elves at Operation Santa Claus, expert IT elves keeping up with the Norad Santa Claus Tracker, and the newest elves to appear, the WestJet Elf Crew bringing joy to travelers. But before Santa Claus and his reindeer set out for their Christmas Eve adventures, what are the Santa Claus workshop operations like in the North Pole the rest of the year? How many elves does he need to hire year round to make toys? How long does it take one elf to complete one toy? Do they need the full 364 days to get ready for Christmas?

We were unable to chat with Santa Claus himself – he’s a tad busy this time of the year reporting daily with his Elf On the Shelf helpers finalizing the naughty or nice list – so we turned to University of St. Thomas operations experts, Heather Massie of Executive Education and Professor John Olson, Operations and Supply Chain Management Department Chair. They created a plausible, but theoretical year to year Santa Claus scenario to compile their data and crunch the estimated Santa Claus operational numbers.

Assumptions:     

  • Roughly 526 million kids under the age of 14 who celebrate Christmas.
  • Each toy takes a “Toy Maker” elf 3 days to make and elves work 7 days a week.
  • Every kid will get a toy as kids can move from the naughty list to the nice list throughout the year.
  • Additional “Stuffer” elves stuff all the toys in Santa’s bag on his sleigh so he is ready on Christmas Eve.
  • Each “Stuffer” elf loads up 100 toys per day, starting 361 days out from Christmas Eve when the first batch of completed toys is ready.
Number of Toys Needed 526,000,000
Days in a Year to Prepare for Christmas Eve 364
Number of Days to Make One Toy by One Elf 3
Number of Toys One Elf Makes Per Year 121
Number of “Toy Maker” Elves Needed to Employ 4,335,165
Number of Days to Stuff Santa’s Bag 361
Number of “Stuffer” Elves Needed to Employ 14,571

 
Roughly 4.3 million elves needed to make toys if they have no days off, one elf hired per 121 kids celebrating Christmas worldwide, and another 14,571 elves to stuff Santa’s bag. We also assume Santa hires more elves at the North Pole for administration, hospitals, custodians, cooks, etc. That is a lot of elves at the Santa Claus workshop, around the North Pole, and globally. Hopefully after this Christmas season we are able to chat with Santa Claus to find out how close John and Heather were at estimating his operational process at the Santa Claus workshop.

The holidays tend to sneak up on us every year so don’t forget, here comes Santa Claus, sooner rather than later, have his cookies and reindeer treats ready to help keep their energy up for one very long night. Find time to relax, spend extra time with your family, and reflect on your blessings.

To learn more about business operations processes, University of St. Thomas Executive Education has an array of programs, taught by John Olson and other faculty members. Visit our Operations Programs website or one of the following programs websites:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from University of St. Thomas Executive Education.

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One Response

  1. The Funster

    What a entertaining post! I enjoyed reading from a process perspective what it would take for Santa to deliver toys all over the world. This is great, thanks for posting this.