Christmas-inspired reads for your seasonal shopping list

Trying to decide what the “something to read” item of your children’s want, need, wear and read Christmas list should be this year?  Gill Hart from Lincoln independent book shop Lindum Books suggests a few of her favourites…

a-boy-called-christmasA Boy Called Christmas – Matt Haig (Canongate, £6.99 paperback, 9781782118268)

A magical Christmas story for children of all ages from Matt Haig, best known for his adult fiction and as the author of Reasons to Stay Alive, his recent best-selling memoir about anxiety and depression. This is the story of a little boy called Nikolas who grows up to be Father Christmas. The jacket tells us; “You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas. If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. (Because this book is FULL of impossible things.) Are you still reading? Good. Then let us begin…” The illustrations by Chris Mould bring Nikolas and his friends to life perfectly. It’s an evergreen story that will be enjoyed by grownups as well as children and is likely to become part of family tradition to be read every Christmas

the-girl-who-saved-christmasThe Girl who Saved Christmas – Matt Haig (Canongate, £12.99 hardback, 9781782118572)

Following the story of A Boy Called Christmas, Matt Haig brings us the story of Victorian chimney sweep, Amelia. When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask – Father Christmas. But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeer dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled. But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl, as Father Christmas is going to find out. If Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone.

little-grey-rabbits-christmasLittle Grey Rabbit’s Christmas –Alison Uttley (Templar publishing, £5.99 hardback, 9781783706723)

If you are looking for something more traditional, this is a beautiful little gift book to keep for many Christmases to come. Since publication of the first Little Grey Rabbit book in 1929, the series has become a classic of children’s literature, capturing the hearts of many. The popularity of Alison Uttley’s magical stories and Margaret Tempest’s lively illustrations meant that generations of children grew up with Grey Rabbit, Squirrel, Hare, Moldy Warp and little Fuzzypeg. These lovely versions of four favourite original titles will bring the world of Little Grey Rabbit to a new generation.

squishy-mcfluff-secret-santaSquishy McFluff: Secret Santa – Pip Jones (Faber, £5.99 paperback, 9780571302567)

A lovely little Christmas story about Ava and her cat Squishy.  Pip Jones continues to give her quirky twist to everyday experiences in this warm and humorous series. The jaunty rhyming text is perfect for reading aloud and Ella Okstad’s gorgeous, distinctive illustrations will help more confident readers learn to read by themselves for the first time.

Call Lindum Books in Lincoln’s Bailgate on 01522 262374 for further information.

On the first weekend of Christmas…

It’s not often you get the chance to see teddy bears dancing on the side of houses, giant luminous fish tanks and robotic musical dancing exhibits in someone’s front garden whilst roaming the streets of Lincoln so if you want to take advantage of our city residents’ creativity on a winter’s evening stroll than the West End Lights is definitely the time to do it.

Marking the start of our seasonal celebrations, we were introduced to “Lincoln’s home-grown night of light when ordinary people do something extraordinary” a couple of years ago by a friend who lives in the area and, not least because it’s “powered entirely by volunteers”, the artistic efforts that people go to and their outcomes are outstanding.

The dancing teddy bears were definitely Willow’s favourite – watching her jigging up and down with them dressed in a teddy bear coat certainly won it a soft spot with her mummy too – and Luke was loving the whole very convivial atmosphere and spotting every light show going.

Sadly I had forgotten to take the sling with me and my 31-week pregnant back was only capable of carrying a tired little one reluctant to be held by anyone else so far so we had to cut our visit shorter than we would have liked but hopefully we’ll be back next year with appropriate transportation to see what wonderful sights are conjured up next time.

Fuelled by our enjoyment of the West End Lights we decided to overcome our worries of crowded cobbles and take in all the Lincoln Christmas Market had to offer on the Sunday.  The daytime atmosphere can’t match what we remember of the nighttime trips we used to make but being able to see which direction the mini ones run off in is always preferable.

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And all that the market has to offer is certainly a different prospect all round (and a more expensive one) when you attend with a couple of mini ones whose highlights include the helter skelter, little vehicle ride and the pick up a penguin stand (think hook-a-duck).

But they definitely enjoyed their time, mummy enjoyed eating some fudge and daddy got to have a sip of mulled wine too – purely for its warming benefits of course.

We still haven’t actually started our Christmas shopping yet though…

Santa’s Workshop designed to welcome annual event’s younger guests

fandg4When you’ve enjoyed going to an event in your pre-parenting days it’s always nice to think you might still be able to attend it even if you have some mini ones in tow.

So it’s especially heartening when the organisers themselves recognise the value in making sure they lay out a welcome for all the family.

One such event extending its offering to its younger guests is the Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair at the Lincolnshire Showground.

2016’s event is taking place from 9am to 4pm on November 26th and 27th and brings together more than 150 exhibitors, festive entertainment from choir groups and cookery demonstrations from top local chefs and producers.

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But this year also sees the launch of a brand new children’s craft and activity area called Santa’s Workshop.

“Here, children can get hands-on with craft activities including Christmas cards and decorations, writing their letter to Father Christmas, making melting snowmen biscuits and reindeer food and sitting down to see talented storytellers relay an animated version of the popular Stick Man book – plus much more!” says Showground marketing manager Rachel Hurst.

fandg1“And for the first time, Santa himself will be at the Fair, ready with his impressive sleigh to meet with children.”

Ruddocks of Lincoln will be helping children to create festive tree decorations and gifts to take home.  Rhiannon Wilkinson, from Ruddocks, said: “We want the younger shopper to enjoy the entertainment while gaining a new skill.

“With Ruddocks of Lincoln, visitors can personalise their Christmas tree this year by creating handmade tree toppers, decorations, make their own crowns and write a letter to Father Christmas, posting it in our special Christmas post box.”

Tickets for the annual event, held across two indoor halls and with free car parking, are on sale now for £5 in advance or £6 on the day. Under 16s go free with an adult.

Call the ticket line on 01522 522900 or visit www.lincolnshireshowground.co.uk.

Looking to find the man in red?

Christmas 2016

(For Christmas 2017 – Heigh-Ho Ho Ho, it’s off to the grotto we go – please click here)

Halloween is another year away and Bonfire Night 2016 has seen its last explosion so… it must be time for the countdown to Christmas!

Such an attitude is definitely new to a previous rather Bah Humbug me but having children does tend to change you in many ways.  No one wants their mini ones to miss out on any fun if they can help it but that often means planning and booking ahead – also new skills I need to acquire!

If your children are hoping to meet Father Christmas ahead of the big day then take a look at the list of where he and his helpers will be appearing in and near Lincolnshire this year and follow the link to see if you need to book.  Be sure to be checking it more than twice as we’ll be adding to it if we find somewhere new and, if you know we’ve missed one, then please email hello@theminimalpi.co.uk 

arkwildlifeArk Wildlife Park, Stickney – Santa’s Grotto
Various December dates
Visit Facebook page

baytreeBaytree Garden Centre, Weston, Spalding
Everyday until Christmas Eve
Winter Wonderland, Grotto and reindeer
Visit www.baytree-gardencentre.com

Belton House, near Grantham
Various December dates
Winter Grotto, breakfasts and suppers with Father Christmas
Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/belton-house/

Bracebridge Heath Village Christmas Party
December 4
Tickets can be purchased from the Little Pottery Studio.
Visit Bracebridge Heath Events Facebook

santabriggBrigg Garden Centre
Daily until Christmas Eve
Grotto experience includes a train ride, bouncy castles, photo booth, elves toyshop and more.  Breakfasts and teas with Santa also available.
Visit www.britishgardencentres.com

Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway – Santa Specials
December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17-24
Visit www.cclr.co.uk

The Deep, Hull – Santa Specials
Various December dates
Visit www.thedeep.co.uk

fb_img_1479500424776Digby Memorial Hall – Digby Christmas Market
November 19, 11am-4pm
Visit Facebook event

Doddington Hall – Father Christmas
December 4th, 7th, 17th & 18th
Meet the Christmas Elves, share your Christmas wishes with Father Christmas and receive a small present per child.
Visit www.doddingtonhall.com

Downtown Garden Centre, Grantham – Meet Santa
Various dates from November 19th to December 24th
Breakfast and supper with Santa events also available.
Visit www.oldrids.co.uk

Downtown, Lincoln – Visit Santa and Tea with Santa
December 10 and 11
Visit www.oldrids.co.uk

Eleanor Cafe and Tearoom, St Katherine’s Heritage Centre, Lincoln – Join Santa for lunch
December 17th
Santa is taking a break from his workshop and is calling into The Eleanor Cafe and Tearoom for his lunch. He will be having a nice hot bowl of soup and some crusty bread, would you like to join him?
Visit Facebook event

Fillingham Christmas Trees, Castle Farm – Woodland Grotto
December 3rd, 4th, 10th & 11th
Visit www.fillingham-trees.co.uk

fb_img_1479836335204Great Fen Day Nursery, Boston – Christmas Party
December 15
Visit Facebook event

Hildreds Centre, Skegness – Pirate Castle Grotto
Visit www.hildredsshoppingcentre.co.uk

fb_img_1479231582812Holly Tree, Washingborough – Christmas Extravaganza
December 17th, 4pm-7pm
Soft play, mini disco, party games, face painting and visit from Santa.
Visit Holly Tree Facebook

Hykeham Lions – Christmas Sleigh Run
From December 3
Visiting areas of North Hykeham, South Hykeham, Lincoln, Waddington, Witham St Hughs and Skellingthorpe
Visit www.hykeham-lions.co.uk

Johnsons Garden Centre, Boston – Visit Santa
Various November and December dates
Breakfast with Santa also available.
Visit www.johnsonsofboston.co.uk

Kelham Hall, near Newark – Christmas Fayre
November 26th and 27th
Visit Kelham Hall Facebook

castlesantaLincoln Castle – An Audience with Father Christmas
December 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th, 21st, 22nd & 23rd
Join Father Christmas as he tells stories of Victorian Christmases of the past. Every child will receive a Victorian style gift and get an opportunity to meet the man himself and tell him their Christmas wishes.
Visit www.lincolncastle.com

santafunrunLincoln Santa Fun Run & Walk 2016
December 11th, 11.30am
Not your traditional visit to a grotto but a very fun experience to take part in or spectacle to watch where you’re certain to see many men (and women and children and dogs!) in red.
Visit www.lincolnsantafunrun.co.uk

firefighterssantaLincolnshire Fire & Rescue – Santa’s Sleigh 2016
From December 12
Every year, Santa joins forces with firefighters and goes on a tour around the county to help raise money for charity.
Visit here for the routes he will be taking

Lincolnshire Food and Gift Fair, Lincolnshire Showground – Santa’s Workshop
November 26th and 27th
Christmas storytelling, festive baking and hands-on craft activities for children – and even a visit from Father Christmas himself!
Visit www.lincolnshireshowground.co.uk

Lincolnshire Wildlife Park, Friskney – Santa’s Grotto 
December 10 and 11
Visit www.lincswildlife.com

Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, Ludborough – Santa Specials 2016
December 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th
Visit https://lincolnshirewoldsrailway.co.uk

LMS Country Store, Wellingore – Christmas Market
November 26th
In aid of Cancer Research.  Lots of stalls, raffle prizes and a visit from Father Christmas.
Visit LMS Facebook

Metheringham Swimming Pool – Breakfast with Santa
December 10th
Visit Metheringham Swimming Pool Facebook

The Natural World Centre, Whisby – A Crackin’ Christmas Celebration!
December 11th
Includes Santa’s Grotto.
Visit Natural World Centre Facebook

fb_img_1479325099250Nocton Community Primary School – Christmas Fayre
December 13th, 3pm-6pm
Visit Facebook event

Normanby Hall Country Park, near Scunthorpe – Father Christmas in his Grotto
December 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th
This includes meeting Father Christmas, a special gift, a ride on the miniature railway and a Christmas activity sheet.
Visit www.nlcdev4.co.uk/christmas-at-normanby/

funfarmlunchNorth Hykeham Fun Farm – Out for Lunch with Santa
December 7th
Toddler Christmas lunch. Come and lunch with Santa, have a private chat and present from Santa and eat an amazing hot traditional Christmas lunch.
Visit Fun Farm Facebook Event

North Scarle Miniature Railway, North Scarle Playing Field – Santa Specials
December 11th and 18th
Visit http://www.lincolnmes.co.uk/events/

Oldrids, Gainsborough – Visit Santa and Tea with Santa
December 3 and 4
Visit www.oldrids.co.uk

Oliver Boat Trips, Brayford, Lincoln – Santa’s Grotto
November 12th to Christmas Eve
Visit Oliver Boat Trips Facebook

The Pink Pig Farm, near Scunthorpe – Santa Woodland Adventure
December 10th to 23rd
Walk through the enchanted elf woodland, write a letter to Santa, make reindeer food with Mrs. Claus and meet the man himself in his grotto.
Visit www.pinkpigfarm.co.uk

Rand Farm Park, near Wragby – Real Christmas Experience
Various November and December dates
Breakfast with Santa also available
Visit http://randfarmpark.com

Reepham School – Christmas Fayre
December 10, 11.30am-2pm
Stalls, games, chilli dogs, raffles, special guest Santa, join Elsa and Anna for a sing-along.
Visit Facebook event

Ritz Cinema, Lincoln – Film screenings with Father Christmas Visits
Various December dates
Films include Elf, The Polar Express, Santa Claus The Movie, The Grinch and The Nightmare Before Christmas
Visit http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/

The Ritz, Lincoln – Breakfast with Santa
December 10 and 11
Visit Facebook event

Rushmoor Country Park, North Cockerington, Louth – Breakfast and Lunch with Santa
Christmas Eve
Visit www.rushmoorpark.co.uk

santashideawaySanta’s Hideaway, near Horncastle
November 26th and 27th, December 3rd, 4th and 10th-24th
Visit Santa’s Hideaway Facebook

The Showroom, Lincoln – YMCA Community Christmas Cracker
December 23rd, 11am-3pm
Meet Father Christmas, step in to Santa’s Grotto, Rodeo-Raindeer, Christmas crafts, face painting, games and more.
Visit The Showroom Facebook

sk8zwithsantaSK8Z, Gainsborough – Skate with Santa
December 10th, 2pm and 4pm.
Call 01427 760 150.
Visit http://play.sk8z.co.uk/

Springfields, Spalding
December 1st
Father Christmas arrives in the Springfield Grotto via the land train at 7pm.
Visit http://springfieldsshopping.co.uk/events/

St Mark’s Church, Grimsby – Christmas Disco
December 11
Visit www.kingofthepartycastlehire.co.uk

fb_img_1479828800630Suncastle Skegness – Santa’s Family Christmas Party
December 18
Visit Facebook event

Sundown Adventureland – Night Before Christmas
From November 19th
This includes park entry for the day, use of all the rides and attractions, the Night before Christmas ride and a visit to Santa.
Visit https://tickets.sundownadventureland.co.uk

Tension Exit Games – Saving Santa
Visit www.tensionexitgames.co.uk

Wacky Warehouse, Lincoln 
December 4th: Breakfast with Santa
December 10th: Santa’s Supper

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Waterside, Lincoln – Santa’s Grotto
December 1 to Christmas Eve
Visit www.waterside.com

Welton Pre-School – Santa’s Grotto
December 17th, 3pm
Visit Welton Pre-School

White Post Farm, Farnsfield – Christmas 2016
From November 26th
Breakfast with Santa and Christmas evenings also available
Visit http://whitepostfarm.co.uk/

Wragby Town Hall – Christmas Craft & Gift Fair
November 27
Visit Facebook post