Would you pay £55 for Santa’s Grotto?

Miss Thrifty6 September 26, 2012

santas grotto hamleys When I was a child, I thought Hamleys was a magical place. However this giant toy store at Christmas is my idea of hell: so crowded it resembles a rush hour tube carriage, but spread over several floors of a large Regent Street building.

Hamleys isn’t exactly a budget destination. But even so, I was startled to discover that the Santa’s Grotto there costs £55 per child. Well, it’s £45 really, but the photo with Father Christmas is an additional £10 – and you aren’t going to fork over that kind of money to leave without a photo, are you?

So what do you get for £55? Your child gets to join a group of 14 other children, and spend an hour in the company of Father Christmas and the elves, eating food and hearing “tales of Lapland and magical stories of Christmas”. Your child will have a one-on-one chat with Santa, and will leave with a “small gift”. Not forgetting the photo, of course.

Perhaps I’m naive, but I had no idea this was the going rate for grottoes these days. I mean, what could you do for your child instead, for £55? For that money, you could take them to Santa’s Grotto at Selfridges and take them for afternoon tea at Claridge’s afterwards. Last year the Selfridges grotto included a meeting with Father Christmas and his elves, a “winter wonderland”, a North Pole postbox and a present – for just £3.

I know which one I’d choose.

That said, even with my money-saving hat on I’m a consumerist softie, if this recent Guardian article about Hamleys is anything to go by:

“Toy shops are where you first experience the agonising paralysis of overwhelming consumer choice. They’re the place that teaches you the existential horror of the mismatch between you and the advertisers’ version of what you’re supposed to be. They’re where you learn the anguish of wanting what you can’t have, and the misery of having what doesn’t make you happy. And all this watched over by adults who seem to think they’re giving you the time of your little life by introducing you to all this awfulness.”

I’m not sure about that. I recall that Sindy’s Fashion Boutique made me very happy. But I suppose I can see where the writer is coming from. Also, Thrifty Baby’s favourite toy is a wooden spoon, so right now I’m getting an easy ride and am probably not in a place to pass judgment.

That said, isn’t a £55 Santa’s Grotto proof that consumers and their money are easily parted? 

Image credit: State Library & Archives of Florida.




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6 Responses to “Would you pay £55 for Santa’s Grotto?

Carina S says:

The answer to your question – an absolute NO – NO – NO. I am really shocked – No more Hamleys for me and my little friends. Who are these people spending this money?? GBP 55/- will pay for a poor child’s schooling here.
Has Hamleys not been sold recently????

September 27, 2012 at 5:25 am

thriftwood says:

Would definitely not pay this! When will parents realise that children don’t really want all this … they are usually happy with the least fuss … seeing Father Christmas is often traumatic enough for them, without all this fuss and palaver, and what exactly is the £55 paying for? Hamley’s are getting £720 per hour for very little outlay … daylight robbery, grrr! Thanks for sharing xxx

September 27, 2012 at 7:35 am

We pay £20 per child for a Santa visit here. We go tot he same one very year, its up in a little cottage in the mountains, with a real reindeer, animals and people dressed up as elves. The children get a bag of goodies and a present. It really is magical especially if it snows up there. No way would I pay £50

September 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Mark Cody says:

Oh Dear,

How can they squeeze such a high profit from the goodwill of Christmas? does this border on unethical? I know it is now law that every Santa must always have an ‘elf’ present when the child is in the Grotto with Father Christmas! That I found difficult to believe and now £55.00 to see Santa! Maybe the ‘Elfs’ have asked for a pay rise!!

September 28, 2012 at 11:14 am

Kate says:

When thrifty baby realises the hours of fun from a bunch of measuring spoons on a chain – and then goes on to pan lids (cymbals) and wooden spoons with the pans, you’ll realise that almost all toys are not needed. Although that said, I’ve lost my measuring spoons for good now – baby adventurer scuttled off with them when my back was turned. and won’t disclose their current location. When thrift baby gets older I would recommend a blanket, a box and a long tube of cardboard like from the inside of wrapping paper. Anything can happen with that combination.

September 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Working Girl says:

£55!?!?!?! O_O holy wallets batman!

October 4, 2012 at 9:24 pm

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