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. The girls still get just as excited though 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. They needed 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. 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 kept busy colouring in the activity sheet. The staff came round frequently 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.
The wait for our food was just over 45 minutes. This 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. However, 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. 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. Jessica and Sophie 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. They 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.
The children enjoyed themselves and had a fun afternoon. However, it was frustrating that there was quite a wait before the food arrived. The excitement of Santa’s arrival at the same time as the food made it quite a challenge to persuade the girls to eat anything even though I knew they were both hungry. The portion sizes for the girls were good. Had they not been so distracted I think they would have enjoyed their meal. Our afternoon tea consisted of two choices of finger sandwiches (cheese and turkey) and scones with jam and cream. There were also mini mince pies and lemon tart and almond macaroons filled with jam.
I did like the fact that our drinks were regularly refilled while we were waiting though. The staff were very friendly and helpful throughout our visit. The biscuit decorating was a fun activity that the girls enjoyed and the activity sheet kept them occupied. They were both thrilled at getting to see Father Christmas again. I loved the fact that they could choose their present in his hut.
For us, it would have been a slightly better experience had there been more time between the food arriving and Father Christmas appearing, or if he had spent more time seeing the children at the tables before making his way outside to his cabin. Overall though, the girls enjoyed their afternoon. They 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.