This blog series has been written to give you an overview of how to run a Christmas grotto event efficiently, safely and profitably. It includes a detailed checklist of all the things you’ll require, the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them, advice on present selection, plus hints and tips of all kinds to help you ensure your grotto event is truly successful and memorable for all those who experience it.
Keycraft exists to make your life as a buyer of toys and gifts easier! Having worked closely with thousands of retailers and buyers for more than two decades, we’ve really got to understand a lot about our customers’ businesses, their needs and their challenges; and especially their Christmas grotto events. The supply of grotto presents is a significant, fast-growing element of our business, with Keycraft supplying more than 250,000 grotto presents each year to all kinds of customers; including railways, garden centres, shopping centres, schools, caves and other visitor attractions.
Whether it’s your first time running a grotto, or whether you’re an experienced grotto organiser, we’re sure you’ll find some useful tips, so please read on! And if you have any questions relating to your grotto event or if you need to source grotto presents, then please do get in touch and we’ll gladly assist you.
What essentials do I need to set up a Christmas grotto?
It may feel a little overwhelming when planning a grotto for the first time, with a lot to sort and get ready for the big day. So here are some key essentials you’ll need for your event:
Santa & Elves
One of the most important elements of a successful grotto is finding a great Santa. You may well find that you have someone you already know who is willing to volunteer. However, if you’re finding it difficult to find someone then ask your local Rotary, Lions, Scouts or sports club to appeal to dads, granddads and uncles that may be willing to help. This is also appealing if you’re working to a tight budget. Alternatively, if your budget permits, you could hire a professional Santa and even a Mrs Claus too!
Santa would not be able to make his appearance without the help of his elves! The elves will play an important role in keeping the children entertained whilst they wait to see Santa.
Once you have agreed on a date and timings for the event you can begin searching for your little helpers. Put advertisements out in your local community to see if anyone is willing to come and help. It may also be a good idea to ask local churches and community groups if they have anyone who would be willing to volunteer. Alternatively, you can hire some helpers alongside your Santa, or even use your staff or shop assistants.
If your Santa is a volunteer, you will need to get them a Disclosure and Barring Service check (otherwise referred to as DBS checked) before they are able to help.
You will need to find a company that is able to do the check for you; we suggest going to Gov.uk to find a suitable company. Once the DBS has been cleared, they will receive a certificate.
If you’re hiring a Santa, they should have this sorted already – just ask to see their certificate. Staff, elves, and volunteers that help out regularly with events, or even just help out every year at your grotto, may also need to undertake a DBS check, depending on how often they help out. If they’re a one-off volunteer, they won’t need DBS clearance (but it’s best for them to undergo a check just in case). DBS checks are free for volunteers.
Create eye-catching posters to advertise locally about your event, you can use design sites like Canva to easily mock up promotional assets. Make sure your posters and leaflets are distributed well in advance of your event. You can seek the help of friends and family to pass some around, and you can also post them out to local schools and businesses for them to display.
Be sure to make use of social media and email lists to promote your event too. Make use of email lists and create an email marketing campaign to encourage customers to come to your event, and use social media platforms to shout about it too. You could even look into running Facebook and Instagram ads targeting parents in your area. (Note: Facebook and Instagram ads are both managed through the Facebook Ads Manager platform.)
You can also set up a Facebook event and every time someone clicks “interested” or “going” to the event, it appears in their friends' timelines too – a digital version of good old fashioned word of mouth! It’s free too.