ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Craig McTavish — a.k.a. Santa — has the beard. He has the belly. He even has a few tricks up his sleeve, like pulling up to parties on his Harley-Davidson in full Kris Kringle garb.

But there’s one thing he doesn’t have: work.

For freelance Santas, this holiday season has been more “no, no, no” than “ho, ho, ho.” Bookings have declined as paying $125 an hour for Santa to visit a holiday party has become an unaffordable luxury. It’s the second year of declining parties and events, Santas say.

“I’ve booked nothing,” said McTavish, a retired firefighter who co-owns a landscaping business with his son. “Usually there’s always something for Christmas Eve, but I don’t even have that.”

In addition to knowing which children have been bad or good, the modern-day Santa also hears which families don’t have enough money for presents.

“You can see the downturn from the chair,” said Nicholas Trolli of Sarasota, Fla., head of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas.

Even in-demand Santas with real beards have had to slash rates, Trolli said. They once commanded $200 an hour, but now they’re charging half that.

Trolli said that anecdotally, his members’ bookings are off about 25 percent. Other Santas around the nation said that in good years they booked 40 events a season, and now they are down to fewer than 10.

Most Santas don’t rely on the gigs as a primary source of income, but many enjoy doing it and the extra cash is nice.

Steve Robinson, a 47-year-old Santa in St. Petersburg, Fla., has another suspicion about why he’s gotten fewer bookings this year.

“The kids are learning younger and younger that Santa isn’t real and that Mom and Dad buy the presents,” he said with a sigh.