Preface : Looking for the Postman is written with the view that Santa is very real and is a magic dude. Nothing within the following piece will give any other impression.

From department stores to school fetes, and soft play places to garden centres, everywhere has a Santa’s grotto in December.

Santa comes to visit the wee ones at school. If you’re Christmas shopping with the kids (the true Nightmare before Christmas) then a trip to see Father Christmas may be the way to get them through the day. A Dobbies Garden Centre near us kicks off their grotto launch by having Santa arrive by helicopter!

The point I’m making is that there are loads and loads of Santa’s Grottos around at this time of year. The effect of this is that it is extremely unlikely that a child will only see Santa at one place. Let me ask you this question:

How many times will your child visit Santa this year?

Mrs Claus

So far this month, my 5 year old has seen (1) at the School Fete, (2) at a visit during School hours, (3) at a Rainbows Christmas party, (4) at a Garden Centre.  (Each Santa had a much different voice, and none of them had a booming Ho Ho Ho like you’d hope for.)

At each visit, she is asked if she’s been good and what she’d like for Christmas this year. Now, the first time she’s asked, I’m sure there’s a buzz. The second time too. But I have to ask, how many times can she be asked by Santa “what would you like for Christmas this year” before she starts thinking ”hold on, I’ve told you this already”?

Too many Santas (although the last one we saw at the Garden Centre was quite good and had loads of gifts. )

All these establishments are thinking “we should have a Santa visit” rather than considering an alternative. Why not instead have a visiting head elf? A chief reindeer handler?

Mrs Claus

Somewhere that does successfully carry out an alternative is the National Trust for Scotland’s Pollok House.

Mrs Claus

Every year they invite Mrs Claus to come along and meet children / give out presents. The whole, grand house is decorated. There are games to play on the way around, spotting golden penguins with letters on their belly to spell out a mysterious phrase.

The theme this year was Christmas music, with a small room even being dedicated to the music of David Bowie (Little Drummer Boy video on repeat).

A photo op in Santa’s sleigh, and the visit with Mrs Claus completes the trip.

Mrs Claus

Mrs Claus

Mrs Claus

It was original, a lovely day and beautifully done.  Also, far better than seeing Santa for a fifth time!

What alternatives to a visit from Santa have you seen this year?