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When I was a kid my mother would often take myself and my older brother to see Santa in his Grotto, which was created, setup and run by one of the big apartment stores in our home city. It was quite popular with other young kids and families.
Cutting forward to today, my brother now has his own family with kids ranging from 2 – 12 years old, and last year he decided to recreate a similar experience in his own home to share with his own family.
Choosing a Room
Think about rooms in your house that you could potentially repurpose for a few days during the Christmas season without causing too much disruption. Great potential contenders for Grotto-like rooms include: attics, basements, wine cellars, spare bedrooms, garages that are connected internally, gazebos or even tool sheds. The idea here is to be inventive, because houses weren’t built with Grottos in mind!
You also ideally want to choose a room that has a limited number of windows, or whereby the windows in the room can easily be blacked out with black card or temporary blind covers such as magic blackout blind. Remember that a Grotto typically means small cave, so the room needs setting up to be dark and free of natural light in order to create a nice warm, cosy atmosphere.
You’re going to want black card for blacking out the windows, black duct or electrical tape for a variety of sticking related tasks including hanging and arranging lights, decorations and fixing the card to your windows. You can find more appropriate means of hanging and fixing certain items, however tape is relatively easy to use and won’t destroy anything in the process.
Drapes & Fabrics
To help create that mysterious cavernous, den-like experience you will need to purchase some fabric that can be hung from the ceiling to obscure different areas of the room. Plenty of sellers provide shimmery fabrics or semi-transparent drape fabric that would look equally great hanging in a room.
Old bed sheets can be used for covering up and masking the familiarity of the room. Use them to cover bookcases, desks and other bulky items that you can’t easily remove from view.
You might like to include a variety of traditional Christmas decorations that can be positioned around the room including, small decorated plastic trees, baubles, glittery stars and angels etc. Decorations that can be run, hung or tapered along walls, ceilings, doorways or drapes such as colourful beads and tinsel worked really well.
Ambience & Lighting
In most circumstances I recommend you use a combination of Christmas lights, fairy lights and candles, which all can potentially play and bounce off nicely with other sparkly and reflective decorations. Stores will also sell their own festively illuminated decorations from blossom trees to neon reindeers, which you can add into the mix. The idea is to be using these other lights to create a bright, sparkly and colourful ambience and not have to use the main room lights switched on, which could otherwise drown out the enigmatic feeling.
When constructing your Grotto think with safety in mind so everyone can have a fun, safe and enjoyable time. If the space you’re using is limited in terms of movement, then candles may not be the most appropriate, if you do use them, ensure they’re secure and that somebody is in attendance. Likewise if you’re temporarily converting a tool shed or garage for your home Grotto experience, make sure you’ve sufficiently cleared or stored away any dangerous tools or equipment that especially young children might hurt themselves on.
Good luck with creating your Grotto, the rest is up to you!
This article was written by David Beastall on behalf of: www.ChristmasTreesAndLights.co.uk