How to create your own magical Santas Grotto

Christmas is a truly magical time of year. Even as an adult, I resort back to so many childhood traditions at Christmas. And there is nothing more magical than a trip to Santa’s Grotto!

When I was little, I had an amazing trip to Lapland to see Santa Claus in the freezing cold, surrounded by snow and reindeers, a memory I will always treasure. I remember icicles forming on my nose, a sledge ride through the woodlands, huge hot chocolates in the lodge and of course a visit to see and have the chats with Santa himself!

Not everyone can manage the trip to Lapland, but everyone can create their own Christmas magic! Last year we created our own Christmas Santa’s Grotto for our nieces, nephews, family (and the dog!). It was so much fun planning, creating, and keeping it all secret till the big day. This blog shares some of my ideas and thoughts to helping you create your own Santas Grotto and Christmas Magic!

Santa's grotto raindear and family in lapland

5 Simple Steps to create Santa's Grotto

Make an Entrance for Santa's Grotto

Santa's Grotto entrance green wreath on red door

First impressions set the tone, so the front door needs to scream and shout Santa’s Grotto! We’re quite lucky that we have a red front door, it’s a cheat step! But despite the door colour, dress it up with a wreath or Christmas garland. These don’t have to cost a fortune, I save all the trimmings from our Christmas tree and get creative ~ some tartan ribbons, an old bell, some woodland twigs and maybe a few fairy lights, there’s no rule book or set look so let your imagination go wild.

Creating Santa’s Grotto

We have an open plan downstairs so we mixed everything into one, but you can choose any room in the house. A sitting room with fireplace is always a good bet though!

Think about the layout of the room, Santa needs to be front and centre with room for kiddies to sit beside him and of course his sack full of presents.

Santas chair needs to be a bit of a statement, he’s an important dude after all! If you have it, go for a high-backed armchair, rocking chair or old carver chair, dress it up with some red or gold material or some big fur rugs.

If your stuck for resources don’t worry, once Santa’s got something comfortable to sit on, add a Christmas cushion or blanket and voilà!

Kids will be hopping around the place so don’t worry to much about seating for them. I used a long wooden bench and comfied it up with a fur rug, this fit the style and allowed a little extra seating space for family Santa photos too.

So back to the room, or Santa’s grotto as it starting to transform into. Christmas tree is up, its an excuse to go all out with your decorations! Try to pick a colour scheme and theme to stick to. I love a traditional look (no surprise when I style so many vintage events!) warm white lights, Christmas reds, deep greens, tartans, and I love adding in some wooden ornaments to the mix. Rich, vibrant Christmas colours will really bring the place to life and look beautiful in photos.

Aswell as the tree, think about a garland over the fireplace ~ again these can be bought or get creative and make your own! Stockings, Christmas nutcrackers stood at the fireplace, reindeer around Santa. Hang some extra fairy lights from the ceilings to create lots of twinkle, get crafting with the kids and make lots of little paper snowflakes to weave in with them!

inside Santa's Grotto fire place and gifts
Santa's Grotto, christmas gifts

The Foodie Bit!

You can’t put on a visit to Santa’s grotto without some Christmas treats! Hot chocolate is an absolute must! My favourite is Ò Conaill’s, a friend taught me a great trick last year, make it up and pour it into the slow cooker to keep warm, hot chocolate on tap all the whole grotto! We set up a little hot chocolate station where the kiddies (had personalised Christmas mugs) could add extra yummies to their hot choc, whipped cream, mini mellows, smarties, chocolate sprinkles! (I recommend a little Baileys shot for the adults!)


Gingerbread men are a Christmas classic! Cake Moms  take it one set further and have fantastic DIY gingerbread house kits, it’s like an Ikea flat pack gingerbread house, you put it together and decorate with all the love and sprinkles imaginable! This is a great one, as you’re not only covering Christmas treats but a fun Christmas activity for Santa’s grotto too. 


Mince pies are a given. They are an easy enough make, but if you get caught for time pop into Dun Bakery in Dungarvan. They hands down make the most incredible mince pies! Homemade pastry, homemade mince filling, they won’t disappoint! Oh, but don’t forget the brandy butter… Santa will certainly appreciate that!

santas grotto home made cookies

Santa Claus is Coming!

Obviously getting hold of a Santa isn’t always the easiest. Here’s a few ideas to help you out…
If grandparents are happy to get involves, get grandad into that red suit. Now, kiddies are smart, they’ll soon recognise the face, but if you know some other families wanting to put on a Santa’s grotto, see if you can swap grandpas!
If a few families are grouping together for a Santa’s grotto experience, you could see about hiring a Santa for the few hours, in between his Grotto days!


A few extras to think of for Santa other than just a suit. Make sure Santa has his present list. A little vintage hardback book would be perfect, red if you can find it. Lots of charity shops should have stacks of old books. Within the pages slip a sheet with the present list for all the children, with their names and any random comments they’ve made about or to Santa in their Christmas letters. A few little details will really make Santa seem real!

For our Santa’s grotto at the house last year, we had Santa arrive before the kiddies, we had an old school bell (Santa’s bell) that we rang up the driveway ringing and ringing so they could all hear from next door! Kiddies come running and arrived at the house to find Santa sat in his chair by the fireplace with sacks full of presents!



I like to keep these presents personal and meaningful. Kids tend to get so much at Christmas, they don’t need masses more from Santa on grotto day.
Theres some lovely websites where you can put together personalised story books for children. You can add in their names and what they look like, with family names too and pick the story they’ll star in.
These make a lovely keepsake for children, especially if you can get Santa to write a message in the books to each child – just make sure its someone’s handwriting they won’t recognise!

Some other options could be a Christmas decoration like a musical snow globe or Christmas photo frame to fill with memories from the day.
Whatever you choose, the kiddies will love it. Extra touch ~ add a handwritten name tag from Santa too!

So as you can see, creating your Santa’s Grotto can become as magical and fun as you want. Get creative, team together and most importantly, have fun with it all!

Happy Christmas Grotto Making! And stay tuned… we might just have our own Christmas Experience coming in store for you next year!!

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Picture of Fredrika Ballinger McFarlane

Fredrika Ballinger McFarlane