The 5 emotions of taking your baby to meet Father Christmas

With some help from our friends at Hoop, the brilliant free app listing thousands of activities for kids, here’s our guide to that high-pressured first encounter with Santa…

Your first Christmas as a parent is a truly tiring expensive magical time. Suddenly, the festive season isn’t all about getting drunk and getting presents, but about making memories with your baby. Not that they’ll remember a thing. But hey, at least you’ll have lots of cute photos to look back on.

One of the biggest festive photo opportunities as a parent is, naturally, their first meeting with Father Christmas. But it doesn’t always go according to plan…

1. Disbelief

So, it’s early December… seems like a good time to book a casual rendezvous at the grotto, right? WRONG! Because it turns out that the world is absolutely mad, and all the organised mums booked their slot with Santa MONTHS ago. Yep, certain grottos are harder to get into than Harry and Meghan’s wedding. But don’t panic if your local winter wonderland gives you a stern “computer says no” when you naively phone up to enquire – there are loads of more informal set-ups across the land, in shops and museums and garden centres and cafes, where your little one will still get the knee-time with Father Christmas without the three month waiting list. Check out the Hoop app to track down the jolly bearded one in your area.

2. Stress

The day arrives when your little one is due to meet FC. Of course this has coincided with them having a crusty, snotty nose and basically looking the least photogenic that they have all year (whose silly idea was it to schedule Christmas for the middle of winter?). But hey, you have wipes, it’ll be fine. Now, where did you put their Christmas jumper? They’ve GOT to wear a Christmas jumper. Cue frantic last minute destruction of the entire house until you realise they left it at nursery…. Oh well, penguin socks and vaguely festive red top it is.

3. Excitement

Woohoo, you’ve arrived! Sure, your baby doesn’t have the foggiest idea what’s going on but you’re feeling so hyped for Christmas now. OK, so the queue’s a bit long and there’s a lot of screaming but this is everything you dreamed of when you contemplated having kids, right? And seeing as you’re here why not buy a Santa hat, three mysterious flashing stick things and some “reindeer food” (a cutesy pouch full of sawdust and glitter) while you wait? You’re pretty sure you read somewhere that some of this is for charity, so you are officially A Good Person, hurrah.

4. Pressure

It’s time. There’s Santa, looking festive/jolly/tired/hungover/too young/too old/utterly convincing. Your kid looks sceptical as you tell the big man their name and hand them over. And right on cue…. waaaaah! Well, would YOU want to sit on the knee of some random guy with a fake beard wearing the colour of danger? You calm them down with the flashing stick thing and answer all of Father’s Christmas’s questions on their behalf, what with them not being able to speak yet. And then, after a hasty snot-wipe and some more frantic waggling of the flashing stick thing, comes the photo… eyes and teeth, baby, eyes and teeth…. if they have any teeth yet.

5. Pride

You exit the grotto with a relieved child, some Paw Patrol merchandise from Santa’s sack and 27 terrible photos. Luckily, the 28th is a winner. They’re not quite smiling but they’re not having a total meltdown either – result! Straight to Instagram you head, where your filter of choice helps obscure the crusty nose and within five minutes of posting you have scored 11 likes. This is what Christmas is all about.

Check out the Hoop app to find thousands of fun festive activities – everything from Christmas markets, Santa’s Grottos and festive arts and crafts activities through to family shows and pantomimes for babies and toddlers.

@mushmums @hoop