With becoming a parent comes great responsibility. Up there with making sure we’re happy at the end of each day is creating the magic of Christmas. We’ve made our mistakes, a few years ago we saw Santa so many times confusion arose. Lesson learned, if you’re going to do something- do it well, and meeting Father Christmas at Hamleys Cardiff ticks every box.
The Father Christmas experience at Hamleys really is an experience. We’ve been to some where whilst we’ve had a great meet and greet, the queuing has been unbearable. We’ve been to others where the children have been given gifts from Santa which have not been age appropriate.
At Hamleys, the experience starts from the time you’ve booked. At the end you’re left trying to convince the children they want to leave.
The experience starts at the front of Hamleys in St David’s II in Cardiff. The great thing about the location is it doesn’t matter if you get there early- you’re surrounded by shops or you can just help the inevitable Christmas wishlist by browsing Hamleys and get involved with all the interactive toys.
The Elves arrive at the front of the store and each child is welcomed with a name badge and fun conversation. The Elves encourage the children to the party room at the back of the store with song and dance. The festive mood is created.Once in the party room, Christmas really does explode. For the children it’s like all the best parties- find your place at the table. For the adults you have the opportunity to take in the room. The attention to detail for a traditional Father Christmas experience is achieved.
It was the Gingerbread Men detail for me which really made it Christmassy. So much so I had to buy a Gingerbread Man garland from Paperchase. Such is the detail, there is something to appeal to everyone. The Elves continue to take care of their charges and introduce a fantastically simple craft. The children got involved with pressing metallic paper on to sticky-backed Christmas foam-shapes.
The craft lends itself across the age range, CM at eight wanted to spend more time on it once she figured out how to add a range of colour. I’m thinking Father Christmas should take heed. Of course, Hamleys has timed their event well. As the craft completes, the Elves intervene to encourage their charges to welcome Father Christmas in song. And of course, the song not only welcomes the man himself, but there is time for introductions. For Father Christmas to recall each of the children who are agog in the attention.
Calm is restored with storytime, and Father Christmas gently engaged the children with the story of The Snowman and the Snowdog.With a balance of energy back to a steady state, the Elves and Father Christmas re-introduce the interactive fun with Father Christmas’s Footsteps and Musical Snowman. Throughout the Elves are ensuring all children are engaged and having fun.With appropriate energy expended the group are split into two. One group stay on the carpeted area to meet Father Christmas, the other return to the table to make their Christmas list.
This works really well. There’s none of the queuing which seems to frustrate my children, everything feels relaxed with children having ample time to let Father Christmas know their hopes and dreams for December 25th. Whilst professional photography may not be your skill, I am of the opinion that you know your children best when taking photos. The Hamleys Father Christmas experience doesn’t have a photograph as part of the package. For us this means I’m free to take as many photos as I need.
After each of the children met Father Christmas, had a photograph and received a goody bag, I politely asked if I could have a photo of all three. I was grateful that Father Christmas didn’t bat an eyelid… but there is a story to follow… CM *may* have visited Father Christmas at Hamleys before. And *may* have received the most delicious bar of chocolate in her goody bag (I will come on to the goody bag). At the point of this photo being taken CM *may* have looked in her goody bag to find no chocolate. Oh the horror.
I will always love this photo for the backstory.
But I digress.
Once the children have met Father Christmas and completed their list, they are offered a cup.
After saying goodbye to Father Christmas, the Elves led them back to the front of the store where they are invited to fill their cups with Hamleys pick and mix (can you imagine how much CM’s mood elevated!).
And this is the great thing about the Hamleys Father Christmas experience (and Hamleys Pick and Mix).
The experience is expensive. It’s £19.99 for a 45 minute experience.
But it is a 45 minute experience. From the start to the end there is no waiting around. Your child is completely engaged, and there’s a lot packed into the time.
And they leave with the most fantastic goody bag. A beautiful book, the most cuddly teddy, a Christmas tree ornament, colouring pencils and a cup full of sweets. Which in itself would (I think) cost more than £20, and are things which children do treasure.
(I have to add at this time, I love having a pick and mix based on the size of the cup not the weight. A child can finally love fudge has much as marshmallow without fear! Thank you Hamleys).
If you are looking to introduce your child to Father Christmas, and well- this is a great experience. Being in Cardiff town centre you also have the advantage of making it as much of an event as you want. You can extend the visit to explore the Christmas markets and buy thoughtful gifts for family and friends.
My three loved the experience and I do think, all alternatives considered, the Hamleys experience offers value for money with the magic of Christmas completely upheld.
The Father Christmas experience can be booked via the Hamleys website.
Disclosure: We were invited to the Hamleys Father Christmas experience for the purpose of this review. All opinions and words contained are our own.