Last year, our Grotto visit went the worst it could possibly be. At a local festive fayre, N basically cried throughout the visit, although obviously he was still quite young (very sad for the poor Father Christmas, who was actually a friend of the family!).
So this year, I made the executive decision that we wouldn’t be visiting a grotto as there would be no point.
We’ve still visited Milton Keynes shopping centre to see the Christmas displays and go on the train, and been to the same local festive fayres. But I’ve been able to save my cash and just ignore the queues waiting to see Santa.
For our final day’s allocation of holiday from nursery, I’d taken the day off work and decided ages ago that we would go to the new Winter Wonderland at Milton Keynes. Thankfully, after the disasters on the first day, and it having been closed down, I’d not prebooked the ice skating, and we avoided the sad state of affairs that the first day visitors had to put up with before it closed down.
Instead I was struggling to think of somewhere good to take N to see some Christmassy things, and have a day out.
We’d already nipped to Wyevale in Bicester, but it was a bit tame if you didn’t want to see Santa. There were reindeer and huskies to see, but when we turned up having noticed the signs saying they would be there, the reindeer weren’t ready (30 minutes after they should have been. What were they doing? Putting on their make-up and keeping their public waiting?!). The huskies had gone for a bathroom break, so it was a bit of a disaster. Not that N was worried, but a bit disappointing.
After the great time we’d had at Millets Farm in the summer, I decided to check it out there. A big draw was the ice rink, as I still haven’t been able to ice skate outside, which I’ve always wanted to do. You could book for the skating and also for Santa’s grotto online in advance, but there were lots of tickets available as of the night before, and being a Monday before schools had broken up, I thought we’d be fine.
Typically the weather decided to be grey and rainy, so I didn’t fancy skating through slush. The ice rink was still open, but sadly it meant we didn’t do skating ourselves. I might have to check out Warwick as a skating option instead.
But I did manage to buy us tickets for the grotto without N hearing it was to see Father Christmas. He seemed quite happy queuing up with everyone else, passing the reindeer before going inside to meet the elves.
N’s never too sure about people dressed in fancy dress, so he didn’t look too impressed with the elves. The displays were brilliant, and the whole experience was definitely worth the money.
It was very much flowing through a story, the players enthusiastically played their parts and there was plenty to do and see. We learnt a dance to Frosty the Snowman, made reindeer food
They were given special snowman and reindeer glasses to look at the lights and create special effects, and listened to Father Christmas telling a story (and Mary Christmas, his wife, telling bad Santa jokes).
I thought the idea of going through different activities, and also being in a group of other families, put N at ease. It meant he wasn’t worried when we went through to Father Christmas’ room, where the tree was beautiful, and he could sit and hear Father Christmas tell a story without being scared. We did sit round the edge of the room rather than on the bean bags that all the other children sat on!
Then there were mince pies and chocolate coins while we were entertained and chatted to by the elves while Mary Christmas sorted out each family in turn to have their photo taken with and chat to Father Christmas. I didn’t think N would agree to do that, but he went straight up and said something to the big man. He did look extremely confused, as neither of us understood what N had said. Poor man, having to understand all the different children.
N sat on my lap for a (terrible) photo with Father Christmas, then turned round to him and said ‘I going to have presents and pants for Christmas’. Not sure whether that means he’ll be toilet training over Christmas or whether he was meaning something else. All a bit puzzling but amusing.
Then a chance to choose a present from the ‘workshop. N told the elves he wasn’t going to be good…lucky he usually is, otherwise he’d not be getting any presents from Father Christmas! N chose a clay picture maker, but there was a good selection of gifts to choose from. Of course when we got home we had to open the box, so we now have a tractor picture.
Afterwards, we mooched around the garden centre, and N enjoyed himself looking at the lights.
I was very chuffed when the elderly couple at the table next to us in the restaurant said how nicely N was eating. At that point, I did wonder, as he was cramming as many chips in as possible, in between gawping around at everyone and everything else he could spot going on! But still nice to hear. Not much comes between N and food though, so he has always been pretty good at meal times.
It was a lovely morning out even without the ice skating, and I think we’ve broken the ‘scared of Santa’ fear. It was definitely worth visiting Father Christmas at Millets Farm
Have you seen any good displays recently?