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At Rays of Sunshine, our Christmas parties are the most hotly anticipated event of the season (apart from the big day itself of course!). We took a sneaky peek into our Rays of Sunshine elves’ diaries to see just what goes into pulling off their favourite event of the year…

June

We’re starting early…

It’s six months before December, the sun is shining and Britain is experiencing a mini heat wave!

In the middle of Summer, the thought of Christmas is not even on the horizon for most people, however the Rays of Sunshine Elves of London (Mandy, Melissa, Jennifer, Claudia, Louise, Melanie and Jane) and Manchester (Sally, Gabrielle and Niki) are busy thinking ahead on how they’ll make it special for every boy, girl and family that will walk through the doors of their respective festive events.

Our Manchester Elves bringing the Sunshine in

The next few months will involve planning on a scale that would intimidate even Santa’s elves themselves, all in order to give our wish children and their families some truly magical festive fun!

October

Time has flown by in a whirlwind of ideas, planning and booking and it’s now just a couple of months before Christmas! Elf Claire, who works in Santa’s mailing room, has been working hard sending all the girls and boys on Santa’s nice list a special invitation…

It’s an invitation to party!

These invites are eagerly awaited by our wish children and Elf Claire’s inbox is quickly filling up with requests for tickets.

London Elves ready to go

November

The Christmas parties are now only a few weeks away and the lovely team from Salesforce have joined Santa’s wrapping division and are busy wrapping all the wonderful gifts for the children in preparation for their visit to Santa’s grotto. The toy workshops at Rays of Sunshine HQs are beginning to fill up rapidly as so many people have so generously donated many fantastic gifts. The head elves of London and Manchester are also busy writing lists and preparing how many reindeer and sleighs are needed to get everything to the party venues – it was an extra-large order of carrots (Reindeer Fuel!) for this them this year!

The head elves have also been recruiting help and lots of volunteer elves, over 100, have signed up to help at the parties.

December

The party days have arrived!

The head elves are busy organising all of the other elves to get everything in order for the day ahead; store rooms are loaded onto sleighs and unloaded at the other end,  activities are set up in their rightful places and the venues are transformed from ball rooms and community areas into wonderful Winter Wonderlands. There’s a buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air…

Caricaturists arrive ready to draw guests as their cartoon selves, magicians appear in a puff of smoke to astound and amaze. The pantomimes, balloon modelers and entertainers are ready to bring fun and laughter. There are stalls of hook-a-duck, hoopla, dance mats, circus skills and so much more… not to mention all of the activities, from build a bear and arts & crafts to glitter face and nail painting…

…Let’s not forget either, the most important part of any Christmas party, Santa’s Grotto!

Santa and his elves getting ready to meet the children

Each party has so much to do and as children start to arrive they’re not sure where to start, they look left, they look right and then they head in full of wonder.  As well as the many many activities and entertainments on offer, there’s the smell of freshly popped popcorn, the vision of fluffy clouds on sticks in the form of candy floss and so many sweets that dentists will be most unimpressed! Not to mention the 500 gingerbread men, kindly baked and donated by one of our volunteer elves, and the lunches provided by Booker and CityLabs.

As you gaze around the rooms, there is so much joy to see…

…The grotto is in full swing, Santa Claus is giving his best “Ho Ho Ho!” to every child he meets (as well as treating them to a special early Christmas gift!), children are looking on in awe as they meet Spiderman, Batman, Disney Princesses and Dreamwork’s very own Poppy and Branch from the hit film Trolls. They take photos to capture the moment and to share with their families and friends when they see them next…

The spirit of Christmas fills the air.

As the Rays of Sunshine family grows so does the size of the parties and this year over 1,000 people consisting of wish children, their siblings, parents, grandparents and carers are attending our legendary Christmas parties! In the middle of all the fun and action, we would like to take a moment to thank CityLabs in Manchester and the Hilton London Wembley Hotel for accommodating us this year, along with a big thank you to our extra special volunteer elves for giving up their time so generously to assist in making sure that everyone has the best start to their Christmas celebrations possible.

Before the elves can believe it, it’s suddenly 5pm! The parties come to an end and everyone begins to head home; laden with gifts, prizes and crafts they’ve made. Families leave with the biggest smiles and a festive glow…Christmas has truly begun.

The elves pack away the crafts, tidy the venues and return their resources back to their workshops…. tired, but happy with a job well done, they’re already thinking about how soon they can start planning for next year’s fabulous festive fun days – which will no doubt be even bigger and (although right now it doesn’t seem possible) better than this year!