Last weekend we took our eighteen-month-old daughter to see Father Christmas in his grotto for the first time.

I must admit I was a bit worried about how she would react, as when she saw Santa giving out stickers in a city department store a few weeks ago she hid behind me, covered her eyes and started shaking with fear L

Some friends recommended a grotto in a local garden centre, so we thought we would go along and see if we could convince her that Father Christmas isn’t scary!

The grotto was fabulous – they have really improved since we were children! The queue was directed through a winter wonderland display, with ice skating polar bears, singing reindeer and elves giving out magic reindeer food for the children to scatter in their gardens on Christmas Eve!

When we finally got to the front of the queue an elf took us through a log cabin effect hallway, then through some thick red velvet curtains and there was Father Christmas sitting in his sleigh!

F’s immediate reaction was to cling on to me and bury her face in my chest, so I had to go and sit in the sleigh with Father Christmas and perch her on my lap. After a little bit of small talk with Santa she eventually started to peek to see who I was talking to. After all, if Mummy is happy talking to him, he must be ok!

Then, Father Christmas magically made a present appear in the fireplace next to his sleigh and F couldn’t help looking up and smiling! He also gave us all a Santa’s fan club badge (including one for Mummy, Daddy and Nana) and she proudly wore it all day long!

I think we may finally have persuaded her that Father Christmas is friendly and not a big, red, booming, scary monster!

In the next couple of weeks she will see pictures of Santa everywhere: on the TV, in shops, in posters and on Christmas cards, so I expect she will start to understand what he is all about! I have bought a lovely picture book of The Night Before Christmas poem and am looking forward to reading it to her this month!

How did your children react on their first meeting with Santa?