For the third year in a row I’ve had the pleasure of attending the launch of Otter Nurseries Christmas Grotto to take photos of the latest intake of Santa’s Little Helpers to use on social media.
The good old days
For me, long gone are the days of creeping around to deposit Christmas stockings on the beds of sleeping babes, and waking up early to help build Lego or Hot Wheel sets. Now Christmas is a time to pop open the Prosecco and try not to forget a crucial part of Christmas dinner (one year the stuffing, another the pigs in blankets, but sadly, never the sprouts). However, working with Otter Nurseries means I still get to have some real Christmas fun.
Christmas at Otter Nurseries
For the garden centre, Christmas starts early in the year, with buyers visiting Christmas shows in the UK and abroad. The Grotto arrives on my PR to-do list in July or August, as sales for tickets start in early September. There’s always a lot of excitement on social media when we announce ticket sales with lots of sharing going on. There are also always one or two grumps about it being way too early… you can’t please all the people all the time. My fave grump this time round was someone who tweeted a photo of the ‘Suffragete’ movie which bore the legend ‘Perfect for Mother’s Day’ (left over from March, of course). The tweeter asked (with good humour) if we could get Christmas out of the way first, please.
The Christmas department opens at half term, and even I uttered a few ‘Oohs’ this year as the Christmas team had done such a superb job.
The Grotto launches in mid November. Once upon a time this meant Father Christmas arriving in a helicopter, but health and safety rules and regulations put the kybosh on that, and now it’s a far more subtle affair. It’s quite a thrill to watch it coming together, as the external shell is put up and the magical interior scenes are added.
On launch day, the bright, cheerful gang of Santa’s Helpers arrive – many are handpicked from Ottery St Mary’s secondary school, The Kings School. Some come year after year, and there are often youngsters from the same family on the team. And then of course there is Santa himself. I can’t say too much, obviously, but he’s very clever and knows a great deal about the children when they visit him.
This year the Grotto was visited by a blogger for the first time, which I arranged after an approach on Twitter. Stephanie Darkes of Exploring Exeter came on the launch day and wrote a lovely blog about her visit.
So there it is, Christmas has come to Otter Nurseries and Santa is on his way!