It gets hard to control your inner Santa around the holidays.

Sure, things start off harmlessly with a few batches of sugar cookies for an office full of frenzied colleagues or some altruistic shoveling of the neighbor’s driveway.

Soon, you’re spending nights pouring homemade mint chocolate into Christmas-tree-shaped candy molds and carving individualized elf ornaments for every member of your family — including the eight cousins in Ireland — out of a felled tree in the backyard.

Santa worship quickly dips into the extremes.

Next thing you know, you’ve traded your briefcase in for an oversized velvet sack filled with festively wrapped boxes of air and your boss has to ask you to please not wear bells on your shoes in the office.

Even worse, you become prone to stopping people on the street to proclaim, “I know when you’re sleeping and I know when you’re awake,” while contentedly rubbing your belly — and now the police are starting to pay you frequent visits (only once asking to sit on your lap).

But there is a time to let the Claus out. During two events this weekend — Portland Santacon and Santa Sunday — no one will scoff at your oversized red suit, overgrowth of facial hair or penchant for door-to-door singing. In fact, they’ll love you better for it.

Saturday marks the third annual Santacon in Portland. The “Santa convention” gathers fans of Father Christmas to celebrate the season and the man who makes it happen by collectively raising their glasses in no less than six local bars.

The parade of Santas overtaking the sidewalks when walking from one bar to the next is also a solid Kris Kringle way to spread good cheer — and a bit of confusion — to passers-by.

But Santacon isn’t all about Santa. Attendees can dress up as reindeer, elves, dreidels, trees or candy canes — any seasonally appropriate idea that inspires them.

The key is, dress up in something. As the Santacon tips say, “Don’t be ‘that guy’ who shows up with only a Santa hat on. Be creative.” And also, “pace yourself it’s going to be hard not to get a little too jolly, but don’t be ‘that Santa.’ “

Santacon starts at 4 p.m. at Empire Dine and Dance in Portland, and will travel to Monument Square around 5:30 p.m. for the annual “photo of many Santas, elves, advent calendars and reindeer in front of the Christmas tree.”

After that, it’s Three Dollar Deweys, Gritty McDuff’s, Ri-Ra, Bull Feeney’s and Brian Boru, and yes, attendees can expect to belt out a few carols during the trek from one bar to the next. Bar specials await for those in holiday dress.

DON’T HANG UP THE HAT YET

On Sunday, Santas will overtake the mountain at Sunday River in Newry during the annual Santa Sunday event.

Jolly old souls in Santa costumes get to ski for free. It’s a day for dashing through the snow without the one-horse open sleigh. It’ll also be harder to recognize a friend at a distance.

Unlike Santacon, Santa Sunday is all about Santa. And festive skiers and boarders should be sure to have every piece of the required Santa uniform: one red Santa hat (including a white pom-pom), one red Santa jacket, one pair of red Santa pants and a Santa beard.

In the generous Santa spirit, participants are also asked for a $10 (or more) cash donation for the Bethel Rotary Club’s annual drive to provide gifts for the area’s needy children.

Pre-registration is required and spots are limited, so snow-loving Santas should get moving.

Let the Claus come out without fear of mockery, reprisal or court-ordered psychological evaluations. 

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be reached at 791-6333 or at:

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Follow her on Twitter at: Twitter.com/mainetoday