What a magical afternoon we had at Hamleys Cardiff today! We were invited along to celebrate the launch of their Meet Father Christmas experience, along with some other local bloggers.
The experience began the moment we entered the store. We were met at the door by a group of enthusiastic elves, who said they had just arrived in Cardiff straight from the North Pole.
One elf told us it was a myth that all elves knew Father Christmas, because there are so many of them! This particular elf told us she was excited to be meeting the man in red for the first time today!
We formed a conga-style chain and sang Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, as the elves lead us to the party room at the back of the store.
Once there, we discovered the doors were stuck, but a bit of elf dust and shouting the magic word Hamleys seemed to help. The party room looked lovely with festive Christmas trees, festive murals on the wall, a Christmas fireplace and Father Christmas’s arm chair.
After an introduction from the elves, the children were shown to the big table to decorate their Christmas gingerbread men. Toddler Boy I, my 2½-year-old youngest child, needed a bit of help, but Little Miss E, aged nearly 7, and Little Man O, 5, did a great job by themselves.
From there, it was story time with Father Christmas. The children all sat on the floor as Santa read the classic story The Night Before Christmas, one of my favourite Christmas books.
Father Christmas then led us into some festive games. First up was Father Christmas Footsteps, where the children had to creep up behind him and stand still when he turned around, followed by Elf, Elf Reindeer, a festive take on children’s classic Duck, Duck Goose.
We then split into two groups, with one half of the children writing their Christmas wish lists at the table and the others meeting Father Christmas.
Each family unit got a good few minutes to talk to Father Christmas and take photos. There’s no ‘official’ photograph but you are welcome to take as many photos as you like, which is a nice bonus, as often the photos are an extra added expense. We took some just of our children and Father Christmas, and then some including me and Cardiff Daddy too.
Once all the families had met the man himself, we blogging mummies had a group photo with Father Christmas. What a lucky man he is! Pictured here from left to right are my lovely friends Alina from We Made This Life, Leanne from A Slice of My Life Wales, Kerry from All About A Mini Norris, Santa, Me – Cardiff Mummy, and Alana from Baby Holiday.
The experience has changed slightly since last year. Last year, it included a hot meal but this has been replaced by the biscuit decorating instead. Personally I thought that was a great idea as last year my children were way too excited to eat too much! This also means the price is cheaper than last year – £19.99 as opposed to last year’s £25.
There are also sessions for two age groups, 2-5 years and 6-8 years (although today’s launch session was for all ages). Sessions are not restricted to a child’s age group, as Hamleys know there will be some cross over for families with mixed age groups, but activities may vary to best suit the group.
It’s obviously on the more expensive side of Santa experiences, but the 45-minute session definitely offers value for money. It was lovely to have Father Christmas in the room for such a long time, rather than just queuing up, taking a photo and moving on. The story telling, games and cookie decorating were really magical. The gift bags at the end were lovely featuring a small Hamleys teddy bear, a big bar of chocolate, a Mr Men Meet Father Christmas book and a tree decoration.
The one downside is that the ticket price admits one adult per paying child. This is due to the limited space of the party room – but I can understand it would put one-child families off booking.
The sessions hold a maximum of 14 children, so it would be a great one for groups of friends or family to do together. We blogging friends certainly found it a lovely experience to share together!
Meet Father Christmas at Hamleys Cardiff runs until 24th December, priced £19.99 per child. One adult admitted per child.
Thanks to Hamleys for inviting us along to review.
WIN tickets for two children and two adults
to meet Father Christmas at Hamleys Cardiff!
I’m thrilled to be running this extra special giveaway with Father Christmas himself and Hamleys Cardiff.
One lucky Cardiff Mummy Says reader will win tickets for two children plus two accompanying adults to meet Father Christmas in the Cardiff Hamleys store. The prize is valid for any of the sessions between now and 24th December, subject to availability.
For a chance to win, just leave your answer to this simple question on the Hamleys post on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page
Q. What is the name of Father Christmas’s most famous reindeer,
the one with the red nose?
The deadline for entries is 11pm, Monday 28th November 2016.
The winner will be chosen at random from all correct entries.
There is no alternative prize or cash alternative. Tickets are non-transferable.
You might also like this post – Christmas 2016: 85 family-friendly events in and around Cardiff