Thank you so much to everyone who has booked, we are extremely excited to meet you all in December, and we are now no longer taking any new bookings. You are welcome to email to be put on a waiting list in case of cancellations. Please include your postcode.

All the best, and Merry Christmas!

In the name of Saint Nick, what is this all about?!

A Christmas visit like no other: a puppy, an elf, and the big man himself, all from the comfort of your own doorstep! Twenty minutes of pure enchantment, specially tailored to each family; including story-telling, Santa meet and greet, a certificate from the North Pole, reindeer food, a magic key and a gift!

Can you help Jingles the Elf find her lost puppy Sparkles? Do you believe enough to magic Father Christmas himself to your door?

A personalised grotto experience, just outside your house, all whilst respecting the rules of social distancing, from only £45. Covering North East London, South West Suffolk and the Essex that lies between.

Delivered by a family of three pedigree performers (that is, two actors and their pooch), with a combined professional experience of over 30 years in the entertainment industry, including children’s parties, events, pantomimes and theatre; not only is Santa Claus and Paws the perfect surprise for your little ones, it also provides much-needed support to local artists who have been adversely affected by the pandemic. We are the paw-fect answer to what will otherwise be a rather strange Christmas, and promise to charm and warm hearts in equal measures.

But who the snow-angel are you?!

We are Grotto At My Door, a seasonal branch of NMT Automatics Theatre Company, usually found touring the country with our dynamic and mythical productions, bringing ancient stories to life for modern audiences. Or, more commonly known as, Jon and Jen from Stoke by Clare, and Suki the dog.

What about the rest of your team, you know, from the workshop up in the North Pole?

 Yes! We are so excited to be collaborating with a festive flourish of fabulous artists:

Costumier and mask-maker extraordinaire, Katherine Penton, founder of They Shout Hello

Digital artist Grace Penton, of Arty Face Grace fame

And last but not least, the Gift Makers, all local craftspeople from the Suffolk and Essex countryside:

Painted wooden pegs by Imagination World

Mini woollen animals in their cases by Lorna’s Handmade Pets

Fairy and unicorn wall decorations and macramé teethers by Knotty Baby

Hair accessories, bookmarks and mini-stockings by Made With Mabel

Crochet animals by Love, Mum x

Sleigh, what?! But how much will it cost? Will it be very….deer?

We recommend this experience particularly for children aged 3-7 but of course, would be more than delighted to visit babies and older children of all ages. Our prices are as follows:

For a one child household: £45

For a two child household: £55

For a three child household: £65

For a four child household: £75

We cannot visit houses with more than 4 children, due to COVID regulations, and we ask that when there are 2+ children present at a doorstep, parents keep 2 metres behind them if at all possible, to avoid a crowding situation.

Our prices include:

A 20 minute visit per household and the following items per child:

  • A personalised certificate from the North Pole
  • A small bag of nature-friendly reindeer food (made up of oats & edible glitter – so no danger to local wildlife or pets)
  • A magic key pendant for Santa to let himself in
  • A handmade gift

I’m merry, merry keen, how can I book?

Facebook message Grotto At Your Door, Phone 07926030821 or email jennie.may.dunne@cantab.net to get the (snow)ball rolling!

We are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, afternoons and evenings throughout November and December, and in the week leading up to Christmas, we will be available all day every day (and all night too if you fancy a midnight visit!).

We will obviously need to work out travelling logistics depending on bookings, so we advise that you send your enquiries ASAP and ideally give us a selection of preferred dates and times.

As soon as we confirm a date, we will exchange a contract/take payment and ask that you reply with your gift choice so that the makers have ample time to whip up their creations.

Treat your elf….your presents is requested: Gift Catalogue

Please select a gift from the gift catalogue. Unless otherwise stated, all gifts are included in the price (the macramé teether, unicorn and fairy hangers require a small surplus). Please understand that only one item is included, other than the hair clips, in which case, the pair is included, and the woollen pets do come with their case. If you would like to order larger quantities, or if there are different items you have seen on the makers’ websites that you are interested in, do not hesitate to let me know, and I am sure we can rustle you up your perfect gift! Most makers have advised that they need at least 2 weeks to complete orders, so the sooner you get your requests in, the more likely we are to be able to provide the gift you have set your heart on.

Anything elf? What do yule need from us?

Once you have made your booking, please, please send us your gift choice asap. Otherwise we also require the following information, ideally around a week before your visit:

  • Full name of your child/children
  • Age of your child/children
  • Any important information about your child you feel we should know (disabilities, sensitivities, anxieties etc); we are aware that two strangers and a dog turning up on your doorstep in fancy dress might spook even the most confident child, so it is very important that we know to tone things down/take things slower for any children with special needs, as the last thing we want is tears at Christmas!

But we also need you to get in on the fun:

  • Can you tell us exactly what your child is into at the moment?
  • What are their favourite colours/animals/foods/places/movies/shows/characters etc – anything unique to your child that would be totally cool and magical if Santa knew!
  • Their wish is our command: your child probably has their eye on the latest gadget/doll/bike for their ultimate gift, but it would be good if you could somehow get them to think that a painted wooden pirate or a little woollen guinea pig is exactly what they always wanted! Maybe in the lead up to the visit, subtly mention that you heard how the Elves in North Pole were making the cutest little (insert your gift choice here) and wouldn’t it be nice if….? That way when our Santa turns up with said handmade gift, your child won’t begrudge him for forgetting the X-Box!
  • Surprise! Our visit starts with a lost elf, looking for her puppy, and builds up to the much-awaited arrival of Mr Claus himself, with the missing dog of course! We want our visit to come as a total surprise to your child, but again, it would be amazing if you could get them feeling festive/hankering after Santa in the week leading up to the visit. Talk about Santa, encourage magical dreaming, festive movie-watching, mince-pie munching and carol singing – all in all, your preparation can make the difference between our visit being a slightly random occurrence and an absolute dream come true!

COVID: It’s snow laughing matter

Who says Christmas is cancelled?! We want to make this Christmas one to remember, for all the right reasons, and whilst it is incredibly boring to go on about it, we do ask that you take precautions seriously. Don’t be elfish! Please ensure that the whole household washes hands in advance of the visit/applies antibacterial gel, as will we, to ensure that the exchange of gifts is as safe as possible. We welcome photos but please do not encourage your children to touch us, and make sure that they are at least 2 metres away from us at all times – we will, equally, ensure not to come too close (with the exception of the dog, who will, if you wish, come forward for some fuss). You are very welcome to wear masks; we will be unmasked as we feel that Santa is quite scary enough without a mask, and story-telling just isn’t the same when you can’t see a face, but we promise not to sing (as much as we would love to), and most importantly, if there is any chance that anyone in your household may have COVID, please do cancel your booking and we will issue a full refund.

Bark the Herald Angels Sing! We want this to be paw-some so, beware of the dog…

What makes us unique? Well, not only do we bring Jingles the Elf and Father Christmas to your house, we also come with the cutest, friendliest little Ru-dog in the business. Sparkles the Christmas Canine, otherwise known as Suki, and occasionally Muffin, is an 8-month-old Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever x Poodle) puppy. She is a scruffy black mutt, about the size of your average cocker spaniel, who is impossible not to fall in love with, and totally hypoallergenic at that. With this in mind, we ask that you keep all other pets out of sight, so as not to make her bounding excitement and energy totally steal the show! She is very sweet-natured and totally open to petting if you call her over, but we do remind you that she is an animal, and cannot guarantee that she won’t nip or scratch if mis-handled. We do ask that you refrain from feeding her (unless it’s chicken as we know that won’t upset her tummy), and please do excuse any toileting needs she may have on your lawn – we will strive to avoid this, but will come armed with bags if necessary!  On the other hand, if bringing a dog to your door is going to be problematic, please don’t hesitate to let us know and we can come pooch-free (but we really think YULE be sorry to miss her – she is quite the darling!).

Let it snow! (and drizzle and sleet and wind and hail and tornado and…) We will be with you whatever the weather, it just might be that Santa and his elf come sporting umbrellas/extra layers. Please make sure that your children are dressed appropriately in advance of the visit as we don’t want to waste precious time waiting for Dad to dig the brolly out the broom cupboard! Fingers crossed for some festive flurries but rain or shine, we cannot wait to meet you!