8 Festive Book Recommendations to Read with the Children this Christmas

Our favourite Christmas story books for children

There are so many things to love about Christmas with the kids, but one of the best things is snuggling up together with a Christmas story! There is a tradition in Iceland called Jolabokaflod which involves people giving a gift of a book to a loved on Christmas Eve and then snuggling down with Hot Chocolate and reading their book straightaway. We think this is such a lovely tradition and one that should be adopted all over the world. And what is better than snuggling down with your little ones and reading  Children’s Christmas book?!

So here is our round-up of favourite Children’s Christmas books, whether you start them on the 1st December (we have already started ours though as we have so many to get through!) or read them on Christmas Eve, we hope you make time for reading together this Christmas. Such precious and short lived moments are to treasure…..

1/ Santa Claus; the Book of Secrets – Russel Ince

Age 5+

This is our favourite and one the we get out every year (hence the worn look of it!)

Santa Claus the Secrets answers everyone’s questions about how the magic world of Santa works; from the Elves and where they live, to how Santa delivers all the toys in one night, how he works with special helpers around the world to succeed in his gift of joy and what happens throughout the year in the North Pole plus so much more.

A beautifully written, collection of chapters, each one covering a different aspect of the magical world. We do one chapter a night in the nights leading up to Christmas. They are only short too so a great, magical insight which can be dipped in and out or devoured in one go! You children will never be able to question the logistics again!

santa claus book of secrets

2/ The Night Before Christmas – Richard Scarry (and various others!)

Age 2+

the night before christmas richard scarry

A staple in our household read for us on Christmas Eve just before the kids go to bed. We do the reindeer dust, put out the treats for Santa and cuddle up to read The Night Before Christmas. There are lots of versions of course and all are lovely. This is one of our copies.

But our kids just love Richard Scarry. If you haven’t read any of his books before you really should. They are the kind of books that every time you read them you see something different! The children love them as there is so much to look at ad point out. The characters are a bit random and have funny names and we love that! And this version of The Night Before Christmas is just a bit different and more fun that a lot of the traditional ones. And who doesn’t like maximum fun at Christmas?!

richard scarry the night before christmas

3/ Sprout’s Elf Adventure Challenge – Helen Nurse

Age 2+

childrens christmas book

This was written to accompany the event ‘The Elf Adventure Challenge’ and is the story of Sprout the Elf and how she does her Elf training and the important lessons that she learns about the true spirit of Christmas along the way. Beautifully illustrated, a lovely picture book for 3- 8 year olds to read with their parents.

4/ Father Christmas and Me – Matt Haig

Age 7+

father Christmas and me Matt Haig

This is part of a series of 3 books, including ‘A boy Call Christmas’ and ‘The Girl who Saved Christmas’. All 3 are amazing stories and they do link together with this ‘Father Christmas and Me’ being the final one of the three and for us it’s our favourite. In the first book we see how father Christmas became Father Christmas. In the second one we meet Mary (to become Mrs Christmas) and Amelia the human girl who ends up going to live in Elfhelm with father Christmas. The third book is about her first Christmas in Elfhelm and being accepted by the Elves. It has its dark moments and is probably recommended for age 7+due to this. For ages 7-10 I would read it with them (and even after that I would anyway as I love it so much!)It is not only an amazing story set in a magical world, and therefore keeping the spirit and magic of Christmas alive for children for longer. It  also has some brilliant core messages and thought provoking ideas to discuss with the kids.

5/ Little Owl and the Star – Mary Murphy

Age 2+

little owl and the star by mary murphy

A board book or younger children, a really nice take on the Christmas story, quality illustrations and small enough to pop in your handbag as a boredom busting story when you are out and about this December!

6/ The Snowman – Raymond Briggs

Age 2+

the snowman by raymond briggs

One of the most famous festive stories of the last 30 years! Of course it started out as a animation and the story has come from there. We love to listen to the audio version with the music accompanying it (the one read by James Nesbitt is the best in my opinion!)

But we also love to read the book and my 2 year old loves to look at the pictures as the illustrations are so beautiful considering their origination.

7/ Mog’s Christmas – Judith Kerr

Age 2+

mogs christmas bt judith Kerr

We love Mog! Maybe because we are a cat family! And this is another good one for the littlies! Mog is not happy about the Christmas upheaval in the house! Will she ever come down from the snowy roof?!

8/ A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Age 7+

A christmas carol by charles dickens

Not a traditional Children’s story, there are Children’s versions of the story and I think it is such an important story for children to know, that introducing a version of it when they are young is good to do. I am also a big fan of reading a book before seeing the film and since there are various children’s film versions of the tale now, reading it first gives more magic to the tale. When I was a child my uncle recorded an audio tape of the story and I listened to it constantly at Christmas time. There is a great sense of nostalgia for me around the story as a result and I think it’s great to create those future moments for our children too.

So that’s’ our top 8 – but there are so many more amazing Christmas stories! Please let us know your favourites and share your Christmas reads with us.

See also ‘Why we start the Christmas Magic in November’

and ‘Elves Best toy picks for Christmas 2018’

To book tickets for The Elf Adventure Challenge CLICK HERE

Why Santa and his Elves don’t do Black Friday

meeting santa illustrations.jpg

Black Friday is one aspect of the human world that Elves really don’t get!

For a start, the word black – what is black about an Elves word or Christmas? Nothing!! Believe me the only black you find at the North Pole is the sky and this is full of twinkling stars!

The second thing that doesn’t sit well with Elves is the emphasis on consumption, greed and materialism. Santa’s Elves are obviously into, no not just into; PASSIONATE; about making toys and giving gifts. But not because they are the latest gadget or for the sake of having. And it’s certainly not about quantity; it’s about quality!  The ethos of Santa and his Elves is to give thoughtful gifts that mean a lot to children and make them feel loved and special. Often this can be one, carefully chosen toy that is perfect for that child and what pushes their excited buttons!  It’s parents that often think they have to pile the gifts up and achieve quantity over quality! The spirit of Christmas is all about thinking about others, being kind, helpful and loving. So linking Black Friday with Christmas is not something that true Elves are keen to do!

The third aspect is to do with the world around us. Santa and his Elves live in a secret, magical, unspoilt part of the earth, which luckily humans cannot get to. But the Elves still want to encourage humans to look after the human inhabited part of the world. And encouraging over consumption of ‘stuff’ doesn’t do that!

And lastly, Christmas is mostly about magical memories. The letters that Santa receives (like this one)…that ask for non-material things are his favourite. Ok, he sadly cannot always deliver on the request but he does his best and where he cannot he will try to help with a gift instead.


buddy the elf

Time with the family is something that a lot of children write to Santa about and it’s not just kids who want time with parents; adults want time with kids. And spending time with kids over the Christmas period has such a magical impact on grown up’s and allows them to release their inner child and celebrate the magic and joy that is Christmas.

So we Elves would much prefer that instead of accepting all the Black Friday marketing blurb, instead come up with some plans for your time in December where you can spend time together as a family and feel the true spirit of Christmas together.



To book on the Elf Adventure Challenge and come on a fun filled, festive family adventure INFORMATION AND BOOK HERE 

Why we start the Christmas magic in November….

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If you start to blast out Christmas songs in November, invariably you get someone within minutes telling you ‘it’s too early’ and ‘you shouldn’t even be thinking about Christmas until December” and other varying phrases at different levels on the grumpy “don’t say the ‘C’ word yet!

But for us, as soon as the last sparkler goes out on Bonfire night, then it’s time for Mulled Wine, mince pies, Christmas music and movies!! And why not? Especially if you have kids.

I worked out that for each child, if you assume they are into the full on Christmas magic for 10 years (which obviously might be more or less depending on the child). And discounting the first year as they obviously would rather rip up a cardboard box and likely cling to you and howl if you try and get them to meet the Big Man; that means you have on average 9 Christmas’s to really feel the magic with your child. To put it bluntly. If you don’t start getting excited with your nippers until December, then you only have a total of 27 weeks of singing Christmas songs, or put another way; just 189 days of festive magic with your under 10!!!

Of course my wish if for my kids to continue to watch Nativity, Elf and listen to Slade with me until we can then do the same with their children!! But being realistic about it, once they turn into teenagers, you can’t always do exactly the same magical stuff you can do when they are little.

Of course if you have more than one child and depending on how spread out they are, you may have many more days than this. I am lucky to have 9 years between my eldest and youngest and so I double the numbers here in terms of magical Christmas days!

But that’s why I want to double them again!! Ultimately what’s the harm in the excitement starting in November? I don’t put our tree up until Dec 1st, mainly because it would be thread bear and looking very sorry for itself by Dec 25th! But there is nothing wrong with a good Christmas movie, sing song or Christmas story in November.

And to those Scrooges who mutter about commercialism and companies being greedy and all that jazz; they clearly fail to see the benefits to the economy that a bit of Christmas excitement brings to the country. If a company is doing well selling products or magical Christmas experiences, food or drink, then they in turn plough that back into the economy, which provides jobs and income, resulting in money being spent all year round and ultimately families therefore being able to have a happier Christmas!

So, for me; Christmas has many far reaching benefits; doing magical experiences together with our family has far reaching benefits for the community and ultimately and fundamentally magical time with our kids has far reaching benefits for our family. So we want to make the most of that!!

So come on get the Christmas songs on the speaker, make some mince pies and enjoy some quality time together. Life is short and childhood is ever more fleeting so let’s relish in the magic while we can. Let’s also reclaim some of the magic of our past and see how good it is for our soul! I know singing loudly to ‘Feed the World’ reminds me of what is important and nourishes my soul!!

buddy the elf

Here are 5 great Christmas activities to do with the kids in November:

1/Make mince meat. Unless you are one of those super organised types who does it in January (do they exist?!) chances are you won’t have done this. And if you have never made your own mince pies before preferring to fall back on shop bought ones; but believe me they are so much nicer. And making mince-meat is so easy and non-accurate that it’s a brilliant cooking activity that the kids can get really involved in – and who doesn’t love a good old mix?!!

2/ Plan the Christmas dinner together– still on food (let’s face it, it’s one of the best things about Christmas!) getting the kids involved in planning the Christmas feast is something that they love and also is a lot of fun, plus it actually is helpful to get ahead! As we all know once December starts its such mayhem, time for planning is few and far between. So actually some time leafing through glossy Christmas magazines and recipes and getting the kids to cut out and make a montage of their favourite pictures and tastiest ideas if a great way to get them on board with food education and appreciation too!

3/ Santa letters! Everyone knows that Santa appreciates being given some time! After all he can’t make everyone’s toys in one month! So the earlier the kids do their letters the easier it makes it for the Big Man!

4/ Christmas movies!! You can’t beat an Autumn Sunday afternoon snuggled on the sofa with a movie and hot chocolate. And if you leave it until December, chances are all your weekends will be jammed packed and you’ll realise you haven’t watched any of the Christmas movies that you wanted to. So why not start now! Let’s be honest you can’t beat a good Christmas movie so make the most of them from now! Our favourites for watching in November are Nativity (and any of the sequels!), Home Alone and Elf!

5/ Christmas stories!! There are so many great Christmas books and stories if you wait until December to start reading them all you don’t get enough time to read them all! So start reading the Christmas stories with the kids in November and they will love it (as will you!)








To organise an amazing family festive activity with Elves from the North Pole find out about The Elf Adventure Challenge 

Elves best pick toys for Christmas 2018

It’s October; its blustery; the leaves are leaving the trees and Autumn is definitely here. Time to be starting to bring our thoughts to Christmas…

elf best toys christmas 2018

Pumpaa, Sprout and their Elves are always thinking Christmas of course and finaly it’s the time of year when they like to share with you their roundup of their favourite toys for 2018…. So if you are looking for some inspiration here are their top picks for toys for Christmas 2018 ……

  1. Fingerlings Untamed Dinos, £16.99

 fingerlings dino toy






WowWee Toys’ have been producing the popular Fingerlings in all kinds of animals and are all about dinosaurs (or unicorns, if you fancy something a little less roar-y). The Raptors have 4 to choose from and our Elf ears have been whispered to that there may be a T-Rex that will be roaring into the shops before Christmas too! So watch this space….as we Elves love Dinosaurs we are sure to tell you when we get our first batch of them!!!

The dinos are slightly bigger than their monkey predecessors, and interact, wrap around your finger, learn to talk and roar and respond to motion and sound just like other Fingerlings. Expect lots of cute growls and roars!!

finglerlings dino cage

There is also a Fingerlings Dino cage, which will cost £39.99 and Argos have predicted this will be one of their top toys for the year, so you can keep your Dino Fingerlings at your fingertips!

2. Ricky the Trick-Lovin Pet, £134.99

pet toy












From Dinosaurs to more furry, less roar-y pets – the cute Furreal Friends pup Ricky has more than 100 sound and motion combinations – from balancing a biscuit on his nose to giving you a paw-shake! He’s cuddly, soft and will no doubt soon become your child’s new best friend!

If you are being badgered into getting a real pet but you’re not quite sure yet then Ricky is purrrrfect!!!

3. Chow Crown Game, £17.99

We Elves love a game (as does Santa, but shhh don’t tell anyone!!) and this is a crazy fun one for the whole family! The hat plays music, and while the beats are going, the crown spins round and the wearer has to eat as many of the attached food items as possible.

Of course – you can choose whatever snacks you fancy, from marshmallows to strawberries to crisps or anything else you have around.

Perfect to involve granny in just after she’s had her post-Christmas dinner sherry!!!

4. LOL Surprise Under Wraps, £14.99

lol surprise toy









The LOL surprise toys have been a remarkable toy sensation and the latest for this year is the Surprise Under Wraps which is almost like a cylinder, and has a total of 15 layers to unwrap.

‘Under Wraps’ is notably more expensive than a LOL Surprise Ball but WAY less expensive than the LOL Surprise Big Surprise that dominated Christmas wish lists in 2017.


5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Hand Puppet and Finger Puppets set, £26.99

charlie and the chocolate factory puppets












We love a puppet set – you can’t beat the magic of playing creatively and low tech with the kids (see our blog here on Imaginative play ideas with your children) and especially when you combine play with timeless stories you have a winner in Elf terms! These puppets are themed around Roald Dahl’s chocolatey-adventure book classic. You get one Willy Wonka hand puppet and then finger puppets of the 5 golden-ticket winners Charlie Bucket, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Augustus Gloop, and Mike Teavee.

They are well made and a joy to play with for both kids and adults!!



  1. LEGO DUPLO Cargo Train, £99.99

 lego duplo cargo train











No Christmas toys round up would be complete without something from Lego on it (and we have 2 on here of course!)

This lovely play set has all your child needs for some super-fun train action. It includes a harbour, boat, café, loading station, 2 cranes, 3 DUPLO figures plus an animal figure and lots of cool track pieces included in this set.


  1. VTech Fantasy Unicorn, £49.99

interactive unicorn toy












Unicorns are this year’s rage! And the Fantasy Unicorn from Vtech is great and bit a different from a lot of the other unicorns you see in the shops; it has an animatronic wand, which lets your little one alter the toy’s colours. The wand also lets little ones digitally apply make-up.

If your child likes playing with dolls heads or pretend make up they will love this…



8. Pie Face Cannon

pie face game












We posted in previous years about Pie Face – one of the Elves favourite games! Last year they came back with Pie Face sky high, the free standing ‘fairground’ style version of the popular game.  And now for 2018 those clever Elves have created Pie Face Cannon. The cannon fires a pie EVERY time and it’s up to the target to make sure they use the red hand in time to stop themselves from getting truly, madly pied!! Oh the Elves loved testing this one!!

9. LEGO Creator Winter Holiday Train, £74.99

lego winter train toy









Lego item number two, we had to include as it is the winter train – and you know us Elves love a train around the Christmas tree!!

This is a gorgeous Christmas-themed Lego set, which is not just a cool Lego kit but is also a working train set, with 16 curved pieces of track. There’s a brilliant steam engine and 5 mini-figures plus a rotating Christmas tree and gifts. Would be great to go under your Christmas tree, if you child lets you get your hands on it….

10. Little Tikes Princess Horse & Carriage Cozy Coupe, £109.99

unicorn little tikes ride on












This magical toddler ride-on comes complete with clip-clop sounds and blue-maned horse. You can take the reins and pull the carriage along or let your child hold the reins, while you push it along using the handle on the roof.

You can also remove the carriage floor if your toddler fancies pushing the carriage along by themselves. A glamorous alternative to the popular Little Tikes cars!


11. Nickelodeon Experimake Sludge ‘n’ Slime, £20

experimake toy

Who doesn’t love slime (check out our great homemade slime how to video by the amazing daisy’s Days here)

This kit provide a one stop, messy but planned-out fun box! Comes with protective googles and gloves, plus the tools, ingredients and step-by-step instructions to make an invisible monster, slimy snakes, sludgy goo, slime balls and, of course, slimy bogies. Science at its most gooey!!

12. Toilet Trouble, £17.99

toilet trouble game












What child (and adult?!) doesn’t love some toilet humour?! Who’s going to get gushed by the flush? A fun – and funny – family suspense game where you take turns to spin the loo roll to see how many times you have to flush the temperamental (water-filled) toy toilet that may – or may not – spray you with (just a little) water. For 2 players or more; needs 2 AA batteries (included).

13. i-Top £14.99


This electronic spinner counts the number of rotations and allows kids to compete against their friends for the highest number. A good competitive one for siblings on Christmas day!

  1. Treasure X3 Pack Chest £29.99

Treasure X3 Pack Chest
If you love a treasure hunt, then this toy is for you!  Set to be a leader in the collectible craze, this toy will keep your kids entertained for hours. You have to open a map which tells you what you’re going to discover and then you chip away at the block to get components to build a figure. 1 in every 50 has a piece of real gold or a real diamond hidden inside…

So there you have it. Our pick of the best toys for Christmas 2018! Please post and tell us what you are excited about and any others you recommend!! Us Elves always love toy testing – life is about fun, fun, fun!!!

Snow Fun….


You won’t be surprised to learn that Elves LOVE snow! It’s their usual environment in the North Pole so when they are able to have snow fun on there travels around their world they are super happy!

Check out their snow fun from the various venues with snow from this weekend!

But as much as real Elves love snow they understand that us Honorary Elves do get a bit cold! So when you visit the Elf Adventure Challenge you can learn your Elf skills and complete your games and challenges in the warm and dry!

We have some limited time-slots available still so if you and your family want to train to be honorary Elves check out availability and BOOK NOW HERE 




Secrets shared about your Letters to Santa….

Pumpaa and sprout grab.tiff

The first real wave of Santa letters are being received this week so I am so excited I could burst my Elf pants!!

Of course we have been receiving some letters for months from some super duper keen Elflet children and now the main lot have started rushing through.

So in case you are still chewing on your pencil and wondering what to write I thought I’d let you in on a few secrets of how the whole letter thing works…and also what we Elves like in a letter, not to mention Santa himself!!

So first of all, how do your letters get to us? Well do you know you can post them in the post box, leave them on your mantel piece or post them in one of the special Santa letter boxes that are in many places; rest assured the Elves receive your letters and read every one!

This is because there is a special wind that floats all around us, all over the world. You can’t see it; it’s magic and it’s the same magic wind that allows Santa to know things about you that you might not have told him. Just like you cannot see oxygen, but you know it is there because it means you can breathe, this magic Northern wind is all around us, all year round. And it also recognises any letter addressed to Santa Claus and brings it to us at the North Pole. So it doesn’t matter where you leave your letter, you can leave it indoors, outdoors or even pop it in the postbox, as long as it is addressed to Santa it will find its way to us at the North Pole.

letter to santa .jpg

So more importantly what do we Elves like in a letter? Well there are three things that we really love –

1/ Good manners – Santa loves it when children ask how he is, thank him for his time and use your best manners – he is very traditional and believes that good manners are very important, so the more polite you are to him (remember your please’s and thank you’s!) the happier he is!

2/ Gratitude – being grateful for last year’s gifts and for all the good things that have happened this year. We Elves work very, very hard and to have our hard work acknowledge by you children makes us jump for joy and feel full of goodness!!

santa letter


3/ Colour, pictures, care and attention with your letters- Christmas is about cheerful colour so we love to see lots of colourful pictures in your letters and all the hard word you have given to creating a beautiful letter for us. It makes us soooooooo happy!!! So get creative, draw us some pictures and get your coloured pens out (Sprout especially is a sucker for sparkles!!)



So if you haven’t written your letter to Santa, get cracking. And my final tip to you festive Elflets is that it is best to limit your letter to a few things that you really want. As Santa usually gives a few extra bonus bits too that he thinks you will like too. So just let him know what you really, really would like above all things.

Looking forward to receiving your fabulous letters. And if you want you can even bring them along to The Elf Adventure Challenge and post them in our special postbox. Our Elf challenge masters love to see your letters as they are not working in the North Pole this year. So bring them along, show them and post them in our post box for Santa!

See you soon Elflets…

Pumpaa Elf


What Elves do at Halloween?

Well of course we have a party! Elves don’t need to be encouraged to have a good time! One of the reason we Elves love Halloween is because we get to be really creative and that’s what Elves love best! Making costumes, making fun food and having a good time!

Santa loves to carve pumpkins do you know? Well of course he would as he is the world’s oldest and best toy maker! Look at this amazing carved pumpkin…..

Halloween brings out our creativity and we always have the day off, dedicating time to making fantastic costumes, food and frolics!

santa Elf halloween tree decoration

And tomorrow the hard work really starts so Halloween is a good opportunity to have a day off and some fun before Seasons Greetings! Look at our fabulous Halloween tree decoration……..

The highlight of the Halloween Party is my brother Kasper Elf who is even older than I am and has so many stories and tales to tell and his ghost stories are infamous!  So we are excited to hear what ghost story he will tell us tonight. Last year he told us this scary Halloween story about three cats – prepared to be spooked….and to chuckle a bit, I like this one because its funny too and us Elves don’t like to be serious!

Kasper Elves Spooky Ghost Story for the Elves:

An old man was out for a walk. When a storm came up, he looked for a place to take shelter. Soon he came to an old house. He ran up on the porch and knocked on the door, but nobody answered. By now rain was pouring down, thunder was booming, and lighting was flashing. So he tried the door. When He found it was unlocked, he went inside.
 Except for a pile of wooden boxes, the house was empty. He broke up some of the boxes and made fire with them. Then he sat down if front of the fire and dried himself. It was warm and cozy that he fell asleep.
When he woke up a black cat was sitting near the fire. It stared at him for a while. Then it purred. “That’s a nice cat,” he thought, and he dozed off again. When he opened his eyes, there was a second cat in the room. But this one was as big as a wolf. It looked at him vary closely, and it asked, “Shall we do it now?” “No,” said the other cat. “Let’s wait till Martin comes.” I must be dreaming,” thought the old man. He closed his eyes again. Then he took another look. But now there was a third cat in the room, and this one was as big as a tiger. It looked the old man over, and it asked, “Shall we do it now?” “No,” said the others. “Let’s wait till Martin comes.”
 The old man jumped up, jumped out the window and started running. “when Martin comes, tell him I couldn’t wait,” he called.







Team building with Santa…..

We’ve had a very exciting time this week at The North Pole because Santa himself led his annual team building session with all the Elves! Aside from the month of Seasons Greetings in December, Santa’s team building session is one of our Elves favourite things to do in the year!

meeting santa illustrations.jpg

Because all Elves have to do their Elf Adventure Challenge test before they can go from Elflets to fully fledged Elves, these team building sessions remind them of their Adventure Challenge activities which are always such fun, for Elflets and Elves of all ages!!

The activities that Elflets do in their Elf Adventure Challenge training are created and developed by Santa himself!

Santa loves team building with the Elves as working together as a happy, helpful and considerate team is essential to living and working in The Elf Village!

We do reindeer races, snowball relays, snowman building, cookie decorating and at the end of the day we have our favourite hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies!

You can read more about the Elflets and how they take their own Elf Adventure Challenge in order to become fully fledged Elves in my new book about Sprout Elf’s Adventure Challenge.

Sprout smiling gifts.jpg

It will be available to buy next month so look out for it! And if you want to come along and join in the Challenges for yourself come to The Elf Adventure Challenge with your family this Christmas. If you complete the challenges and earn yourself title of honorary Elf then Santa may even call on you for help in the future…….



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