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Seasonal/ 7 Dec 2016 / By Emily Hirschmann

The Grotto at the Bottom of the Garden

It’s a difficult one to call; the precise age when the longed-for visit to see Santa will turn from a joyous event of supreme cuteness to a nightmare scene of high decibel wailing. Every child is different, but almost every child will do it, sending shrieks of blue bloody murder echoing around your friendly local grotto, as a poor man dressed in an overly hot red suit does his best to smile jovially.

Sometimes it’s easier, and actually nicer, to make a grotto yourself, especially if you have a large family, with nephews and nieces to join in the fun. An Atelier garden room – or even a common garden shed – could make the perfect grotto, with a little bit of work, a little bit of imagination, and a lot of tinsel!

How to Make a Gorgeous Grotto

  1. The obvious first step is to clear the space. If you’re working with a shed, make sure all creepy crawlies are safely rehomed, and remove the everyday paraphernalia from your Atelier (or at least cover it with ‘snow drift’ blankets).
  2.  Make an entrance. First impressions really count, so dress your grotto’s doorway. An elf-drawn sign to give cheery welcome. Icicles and lights around the doors and windows. A pretty holly wreath upon the door. Sign posts and fairy lights down the garden path. Straw to the side for Rudolf and co. Fake snow – brands such as SnoWonder and D’Ziner are 100% environmentally friendly.
  3. The inside of a grotto can vary. In a shed, dark, draped cloth with twinkling lights could work as well as a workbench scattered with tools and wooden toys; Santa and his elves need somewhere to make all those gifts after all! In an Atelier you might prefer a more modern feel, so bring in a Christmas tree bursting with tinsel, lights, candy canes and chocolate coins; this is for the children, so give them what you know they’ll love.
  4. Lay pine boughs on the floor (on top of a blanket to prevent damage to your lovely Atelier flooring) for that delicious resin-y scent; add to the aroma with mulled spice diffusers. 
  5. Make a seat for Santa. Dress up a chair with ‘furs’ and throws, wrap the arms and back with tinsel and decorations, be sure to leave a spot to the side for mince pies, mulled wine/cordial, milk, cookies and other Christmas treats for Santa and his visitors to share.
  6. Add a bit of sparkle – tinsel, glitter, fairy lights, spray-on ice crystals etc..
  7. Presents. Don’t go mad; sometimes a £2 pinball game can be as much fun as the latest interactive gadget. Save the big gifts for Christmas day; in your grotto you can pile up the little things, bringing a bit of tradition to your children’s Christmas with yoyos, sugar mice, satsumas and colouring books.
  8. Have fun! Working together with your friends and family, a homemade Atelier grotto could be just the thing to make this Christmas sparkle, so don’t get too wound up with the details, just do your best and enjoy yourself.    
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