Visiting Santa’s Grotto with your toddler for the first time can be daunting, so follow our tips to make that first visit to Santa’s Grotto enjoyable for you and your toddler.
Make your first visit to a free, or low-key grotto
Your little one will find it easier to deal with and you won’t feel like you need to get your money’s worth if she only wants to peep around the door. If your baby is under a year old, then she’ll take a visit to Santa in her stride, but toddlers can be overwhelmed by the sight of a big bearded man in a red suit first time around.
Visit when the grotto isn’t busy
Then you don’t have to queue, and Santa’s feeling relaxed and chatty. Mornings, well before Christmas, before the school holidays begin, are the best times.
Tell your toddler you’re going to visit Santa
Ask your little one if they want to come with you. Take the pressure off and she’ll be far keener to go.
Explain who Santa is before you go
Keep it really, really simple: he’s a man, who brings presents at Christmas, and has a beard and a red suit. Explain what a grotto is too: it’s just a room that’s been decorated to look all Christmassy, so Santa feels at home. At this age, your little one doesn’t have much grasp of what’s real, and what’s not, which is why she enjoys pretend play so much. Explaining a little of the reality won’t take away the magic, but it will take away whatever fears her imagination might conjure up.
Invite your toddler’s favourite toy to come along with you
It will help your toddler feel more secure.
Point out the happy children leaving the grotto
‘He looks like he’s had lots of fun chatting to Santa.’ It will reassure your child, and anticipating fun makes it even better when it happens.
Take a picture she’s drawn as a present for Santa
Having a job to do, giving it to Santa, will help her happily manage going into the grotto. This moment can be tricky for a toddler – wouldn’t you find it daunting to walk into an enclosed space with a very important stranger waiting for you?
Sit on the seat yourself
Cuddle your baby or toddler on your lap, rather than handing them over to Santa. She’ll feel far more relaxed, and enjoy her visit more. And if you want a shot of your little one with the big man, then sit her on your hip and take a Santa selfie with you in too. That way, she’ll be smiling.
Keep your expectations low
Even very young children are great at reading facial emotions and might feel unnerved that, with Santa’s face obscured by a beard, they can’t judge if he’s friend or foe. So, go with what your child feels comfortable doing. If she wants to stand just inside the door and wave to the hairy, scary man, that’s fine. Ask her to whisper in your ear what she wants to tell Santa, and you do the talking.
Have a back-up story ready
Just in case she pulls Santa’s beard a little too hard, or spots that he looks really different to the Santa she spotted yesterday. Sharing the secret that Santa employs his cousins to help him deliver all the presents, and gives them red suits too, so the reindeer do as they’re told, works a treat.