Well, well. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Here we are once more, the big TV Christmas ads are OUT, Christmas carols from Germany are merrily playing throughout Lidl, and we have the hotly anticipated ‘Soz, your kid’s not Mary, so please bring in a tea-towel and long sleeve tunic, a la Inn-Keeper’ nativity request form.
This is by far my favourite time of year, but it is also a time when I reach peak anxiety level.
What if he doesn’t pick me out those Cath Kidston slippers…
It is becoming abundantly clear how this whole Father Christmas belief thing works:
There is a window of about 3, maybe 4 years if we are lucky, where our children both understand who Father Christmas is, before a
total arsehole non-believer takes it upon themselves to spread their poisonous ‘He’s not real’ yarda yarda through Mrs White’s class.
I am in the eye of the magic right now. Our girls are nearly 3 and 5. They are fully committed to the Father Christmas movement. They write* to him almost daily, and have an unwavering belief which is actually infectious. I am absolutely expecting a man in a red suit to come down my chimney (so to speak), baring every gift upon my wish list.
It’s truly magical to see their faces when a festive buzzword is mentioned: Father Christmas, North Pole, Head Elf, Naughty n Nice list (-single best bit, thanks FC), Rudolph’s band of merry reindeer, I could go on…
I don’t want this belief to end, and that panics me because I know it will. I must appreciate this year and make the most of it because it might be the last Christmas that Darcie possesses this unquestioning precious belief.
I want to embrace every tradition I hear of, for the FOMO (fear of missing out) is too much to bear;
The pressure to make the most of it is all consuming.
Take that creepy looking ‘Elf on the
sodding Shelf’ for example. Last year I laughed and mocked those parents who tirelessly thought up all sorts of frankly bonkers positions for their Elf to be found in each morning. The X-rated versions took the biscuit and had me in stitches, I confess. But on the whole I just thought, what a load of tosh.
Guess what? This year we are having an Elf on the Shelf. My panic that I’ll regret doing it for our girls once it’s too late was just too much. So I caved. I’ll be posting wan*y ‘Elf dangling from the ceiling in a bid to rescue Barbie from her arranged marriage to Ken.’ and other must see footage…
Do we give in and pour flour all over the floorboards to mimic Santa boot prints? What about those Christmas Eve boxes or treats? (Who the F came up with that one.) How do we decide on The Santa Visit ? Have we made arrangements for the family to see the kids? Have we got any school holiday trips or treats planned? Hang on, what about Christmas crafting?! It’s a minefield.
Then there’s the gifts.
And this is my plea:
Please parents, don’t be a Festive-Douche.
Please don’t post photos of your Christmas tree groaning with gifts at 9pm Christmas Eve. It’s too frigging late by then for me to nip out to Poundland and purchase more tat to pad ours out with. I don’t want to read that you struggled to get in the lounge door because of all the gifts in the way. I don’t want to see that the Christmas eve boxes went down a storm with homemade PJ’s and personalised hot chocolate mugs. That’s great for you, but please don’t put the panic surges and gut wrenching guilts on the rest of us who didn’t get the jazz hands memo.
I can’t be the only one who has Inst-Panic and Facebook-fu*k moments over Christmas time can I? Is there anyone else out there sharing these feels?
I guess it all boils down to this, the big question, ‘Am I making the most of it?’
My gorgeous, switched on friend, Ursula, who blogs at Mumbelivable wisely said to me “Pick the traditions you want to do, don’t try and do it all and don’t compare yourself to others, your kids are lucky that you are their Mummy”.
I’m going to try and remember that.
Right then, I’m just off to stage the family Christmas card, and send off for personalised snowglobes, right before adopting a reindeer for a month… just kidding.
Keep it real Mumas, we got this.
I don’t know about you, but since having our girls I have this crazed obsession with making each Christmas better than the last. I put huge pressure on myself to ensure that we have squeezed the most out of every memory maker going. I am painfully conscious of the fact that there are only a handful years when our children will truly believe in The Big Man. The thought of wasting one of those precious years visiting a tin-pot Santa makes me shudder- in all the wrong ways.
This year there are only 6 weekend days in December to cram in as much tinseltastic memories as possible; ergo- planning is everything. Knowledge is power.
So without further ado, I would like to present to you the top 5 places to visit with your families in the greater Brighton area this December:
*Win a family ticket to Drusillas!*
Location: Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS
This is one of my families favourite places to visit. We have annual passes and so you could say we know Drusillas inside out! Widely regarded as one of the countries best small zoos, not only can you enjoy seeing a wide variety of animals but the adventure park is something to behold! There is a large indoor play area, cafes, and my girls favourite: Hello Kitty world which has 3 brilliant rides – all included in your ticket price.
Festive Sparkle: A huge winter wonderland display comes to life after dark with an impressive animal themed Christmas light show all synchronised to music. There will also be an opportunity to meet 2 of Santa’s reindeer and husky dogs on selected dates.
Meeting Santa: The star attraction is Santa’s cosy cottage. It does look beautiful and has the winter wonderland laid out in front of it, making it all very magical. – With elves, and a big sleigh to ride too! The early Christmas gifts are really good quality – our girls still love their cuddly polar bears a year on.
Dates: Join the festive fun from Saturday 19th November until Monday 2nd Jan.
Meet Santa from Saturday 19th November (weekends only) and from Thursday 15th December – Friday 23rd December (daily).
Price: Normal entry price, plus £11 to meet Santa.
Location: The Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL
Festive Sparkle: The ‘Santa Special’ trains depart from the Sheffield Park station (East Grinstead on the 23rd) for a ten mile round trip to the beautifully restored Horsted Keynes station with special Dickensian themed activities for you to enjoy.
Santa will be on the train to meet you and give a gift and treat to each child. Once at the station you can have your photo taken with Santa in his special cabin, and enjoy a range of Christmas activities, from Victorian street entertainers, to fairground stalls (20p a go – not bad). A right olde ye Christmas shindig then; lovely!
Dates: Departures from Sheffield Park ONLY at: 11.00am, 11.55am, 1.45pm and 2.40pm
on 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 23rd and 24th December
Departures from Sheffield Park ONLY at: 11.00am, 11.45am, 12.30pm, 1.15pm, 2.00pm and 2.45pm on 17th and 18th December
Departure from East Grinstead at: 12.45pm and 3.30pm on 23rd December
Price: First Class: Adult £26.00 Child £14.00 Toddler £9.00 (no seat allocated for toddlers) Third Class: Adult £21.00 Child £14.00 Toddler £9.00 (no seat allocated for toddlers) -Not sure what happened to 2nd class?!
Please call 01825720806 for 1st class ticket bookings – these are very popular, so don’t be disappointed if you have to travel coach, it’s all fabulous.
Location: Tulley’s Farm, Turners Hill Road, Turners Hill, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 4PE
This farm has an outstanding reputation for its Spookfest, and puts the same incredible effort and detail into it’s Christmas experience. This is a whole day of specially crafted Christmas activities and delights for the whole family to enjoy.
Festive Sparkle: Christmas really did land at Tulley’s. You will journey on Santa’s sleigh, through a forest to reach Santa’s log cabin where you will be read a story by the man himself and the children will receive a gift star.
These activities are included in the main child ticket 1-13 years, and slight variations occur for Tiddler tickets and adults which are classed from age 14:
- Gingerbread Decorating
- Elves Magical Forest
- Story time with Father Christmas
- Build a Bear or Toy shop
- Real live Reindeer
- Sleigh Ride
- Post House
- Elf Hunt
- Puppet shows
- Christmas Shop
Dates: Daytime dates: 10am-5pm. Every weekend from Saturday 26th November – Saturday 24th December as well as these additional dates: Friday 9th December, Thursday 15th, Friday 16th, and then everyday Monday 19th – Saturday 24th.
Twilight dates: 4.30pm – 7.30pm 10th &11th December and then everyday from Saturday 17th – Friday 23rd.
Price: It’s complicated…
Daytime 10am-5pm: 26th & 27th November: Adult (14+) £8, Child £14, Tiddler (1-) £4
3rd & 4th December, 9th, 15th &16th: Adult £10, Child £16, Tiddler £5
10th & 11th, 17th – 24th: Adult £10, Child £18, Tiddler £6
Twilight 4.30pm-7.30pm: Friday 16th December, Adult £10, Child £16, Tiddler £5
10th &11th and 17th – 23rd December, Adult £10, Child £18, Tiddler £6
Location: Preston Manor, Preston Drove, Hove, Brighton BN1 6SD
Preston Manor is an impressive Edwardian house, which is the perfect setting for hosting a Victorian themed Christmas. There are very few dates available, but this really is a gem of a place and a slightly calmer way to celebrate than my other suggestions. I would say it would be of more interest to children who are school age and above, and ideal for anyone who doesn’t deal well in crowded places.
Festive Sparkle: A beautifully decorated manor house will transport you back in time, with special festive activities like dressing up and listening to stories which will all be going on throughout the house for the children. Father Christmas greets every child with a gift, at allotted time slots which are all pre-booked.
After you’ve met the man himself take a look around the rest of this delightful Edwardian Manor House. The Dining Room table is set as if a grand family of the period are about to take tea and Lady Ellen’s little Morning Room is covered in Victorian and Edwardian Christmas cards, holly and ivy and traditional decorations.
Dates: Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th Dec, and, 20th-23rd December.
Price: £8.50 to visit Santa, plus admission charges – Adult £6.60 Child £3.50
*Brighton & Hove residents will benefit from half price adult admission. Each half price adult can take up to 4 children for free. Please note that ‘visiting Santa’ charges still apply. ID and proof of address needed at time of booking to qualify.
To book call 03000 290902 or visit the Brighton Pavilion, or Preston Manor.
5) Spring Barn Farm
Location: Spring Barn Farm, Kingston Road, Lewes BN7 3ND
I adore this farm, it has a real family feel to it. It is small enough that it keeps a local vibe but big enough to warrant a full on day out. There is a large indoor play area housed in a barn along with an undercover small animal petting area, so rain needn’t spoil your day out. The shop is worth a mention here – it’s to die for with fresh local produce and gorgeous gifts.
Festive Sparkle: A large area of the huge barn turns into a winter wonderland for the season. The head elf will meet you at the entrance and take you through to make reindeer food, before writing to Santa. A special Santa-Mail letter box is waiting for your children’s letters amongst the twinkle lights and festive displays. Santa awaits you in his log cabin where children meet with him in family groups. You are then whisked off to the Elves workshop to choose a gift.
Dates: Nov: Booking slots available from 9.45am – 3.45pm on 26th & 27th
Dec: Booking slots available at 9.45am – 3.45pm on 3rd & 4th, 10th &11th, Friday 16th- Saturday 24th (last booking 3.15pm)
Cost: Child £13.50, Tiddlers 2 & under £7.50, Adult £7.50, Senior £6.50 plus admission price.
Have a brilliant time visiting Santa and getting all festived-up.
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win tickets for a family of 4 to the fabulous Drusillas Park: