Last weekend, we were invited to have tea with Father Christmas at the Wyevale Garden Centre in Osterley. We’ve seen Father Christmas a couple of times already this year but the girls still get just as excited at the prospect of seeing him again in the run-up to Christmas.
We had to pre-book and order our food in advance. There was a choice of a hot or cold tea for the girls (priced at £9.99 each) and either a full afternoon tea or a mini tea for the adults (£7.99 and £3.99 respectively). We opted for sausages, beans and mash for the girls and a full afternoon tea for myself, hubby and my mum (who was staying with us for the weekend).
The tables were set out with crackers, activity sheets and crayons for the girls, plus a polystyrene box which contained a gingerbread snowman, some icing and a tub of mini marshmallows and sprinkles. The girls had fun decorating their snowman – with a little help from the grown-ups to squeeze the icing out of the piping bag and on to the biscuit! I was quite pleased that the biscuit decorating kit came in a box as the girls wanted to take their decorated snowmen home to eat later rather than eating them straight away.
Once the snowmen were finished, Jessica and Sophie enjoyed colouring in the activity sheet while the staff came round to make sure that we all had drinks and to keep them refilled as needed. They also made sure that the table was cleared regularly of any extra debris – such as any packaging leftover from the biscuit decorating kit and the remnants of the crackers.
It felt like quite a long wait though before our food arrived – just over 45 minutes which seemed a long time considering we had pre-ordered the food beforehand. The girls had finished their colouring and were getting quite restless while we waited. It was a relief when our tea finally appeared, but just as the girls were about to tuck in, we heard the ringing of the bell – and Father Christmas appeared.
Needless to say, Father Christmas was much more exciting than food! The girls’ tea was quickly forgotten about as Father Christmas made his way around the tables for a quick high-five with the children before he headed outside and into his hut. We weren’t sure whether each table was invited up to see Father Christmas in turn (which seemed the case at first) or whether we could just join the queue when we were ready. We ended up being the last ones to finally go up and see Father Christmas, and the girls were quite impatient by the time we did join the queue.
Once inside Santa’s cabin, everyone was happy again though. Jessica and Sophie gave Father Christmas a high-five and enjoyed choosing themselves a present each from a selection of toys, craft kits and puzzles that were on display inside the hut. Both girls choose a wooden jigsaw puzzle before posing for a photo with Father Christmas.
Whilst the children enjoyed themselves and had a fun afternoon, it was a little frustrating that there was quite a wait before the food arrived – and that the excitement of Santa’s arrival made it quite a challenge to persuade the girls to eat anything even though I knew they were both hungry. Had I realised that this was going to happen, I think I would have encouraged them to eat the gingerbread biscuit instead of saving it to take home!
I did like the fact that our drinks were regularly refilled while we were waiting though and the staff were very friendly and helpful throughout our visit. The biscuit decorating was a fun activity that the girls enjoyed and they were quite happy for a while, colouring in the activity sheet. Even though the girls had seen Father Christmas a couple of times already this year, they were still both captivated when he arrived. I loved the fact that they could choose something they liked when they got to see Father Christmas.
The portion sizes for the girls were good and I think had they not been so distracted they would have enjoyed their meal. Our afternoon tea consisted of two choices of finger sandwiches (cheese and turkey), scones with jam and cream (which were very yummy), mini mince pies and lemon tart and almond macaroons filled with jam.
For us, it would have been a slightly better experience had there been a little more time between the food arriving and Father Christmas appearing, or if he had spent a little more time seeing the children at the tables before making his way outside to his cabin. Overall though, the girls enjoyed their afternoon and had a lovely time decorating biscuits and seeing Father Christmas.
We received a complimentary tea with Father Christmas for four in order to share a review of our experience. All thoughts and opinions are my own.