With Heidi about 2 1/2 years old, this has been the first year where we have tried to get her “into” Christmas. Previous years, it has gone over her head completely, but this year has been different.
Heidi has been taken to many Santas this year just to build her up and to make her feel comfortable with the Big Man! This has meant that she has started to understand that Santa is and in fact, it is a special occasion at a special time of year.
The Santas who we have seen have been your traditional grottos in the usual places (garden centres etc) and there is nothing wrong with that at all – you know what to expect!
However, Baby Rave/The Grotto, Leeds have done something a little different – Breakfast with Santa! Hosted in the ground floor of the Corn Exchange in Leeds, we headed down on a Sunday morning for our pre-booked session (pre-booking is highly recommended!)
If you have never been into Leeds City Centre, sometimes it isn’t the best for parking, particularly down that end and so we got the train (aka Polar Express/Northern Rail!) and did a 10 minute walk. (There are loads of bus stops nearby as well!)
Upon finding where breakfast was being served, there was a really simple but clever thing – a mini bouncy castle, just so that the little ones could burn off some energy and kill a few minutes without stressing out their parents!
Anyway, the breakfast was a very intimate session, as there was only 10 children and so it was nice for the children to get close but not being put on the spot with a one-to-one conversation but the kids could strike up a chat if they wanted to. The looks on the children’s faces was priceless when they saw Santa coming into the room!
As there was only 10 children in the room, it really did feel special and heart-warming and nothing felt rushed, nothing felt forced and it just flowed right (and no child had a tantrum!)
After 15-20 minutes of being sat with Santa during story time, there was an opportunity for photos with Santa and any combination of parents/children you want! Photos were uploaded onto Facebook and they were brilliant quality! (as always!)
I should actually mention the breakfast itself…the breakfast is only for the children! Also, we found that food was the last thing on Heidi’s mind – after all, she was a yard away from Santa!!! It might be an idea for the little ones not to arrive on an empty stomach as they might not feel like eating!
As Santa was finishing off his hundreds of individual photos, a side room was opened for the kids to run and play with toys etc with the usual Baby Rave vibes/music!
Once everyone had done their photos, Santa came back into the room for some dancing, bubbles and “snow”!! This worked absolutely perfectly for Heidi and will do for similar aged children as if they had to spend longer eating with Santa, they would have got bored and the edge would have been taken off it, but by having the opportunity to run, play and dance, it broke it up nicely.
A couple of things:
1) in the break out rooms, the lights are dark and changing, therefore difficult to take a good photo (I have never taken a good photo at a Baby Rave event!) As a result, the best photos are in the breakfast room!
2) there is no gift. For some this might be an issue, but the gift is a child who has just had a wonderful experience! (as well as a breakfast!)
3) all in all, it lasted about 45 minutes, just about right!
It was such a wonderful experience and in future years, this will probably be the only Santa that she gets to see, as it was so good and so special – next year it will be quality as opposed to quantity and this was of the highest quality!
It would be wrong of me to fail to mention that there is a whole host of other Christmas activities going on at the Corn Exchange, from traditional grottos, to Elsa/Spiderman workshops – which sound really cool and will be explored next year (I am probably too old for the Spiderman one!) Probably the best place to find out is to Facebook “The Grotto, Leeds”