This year we celebrated Christmas away from home at Coombe Mill in Cornwall.
We first visited Coombe Mill for Christmas 2013 and loved it so much we headed back again in 2014. Sadly due to work commitments we were unable to return, but this year we found ourselves back in their biggest property – Tree Roots.
I actually find spending Christmas away from home less stressful, as there is less pressure to make it perfect, however, it is not without its challenges, especially in the build up to the break.
Our Top Tips for spending Christmas away from home
Pick somewhere family friendly to stay
Coombe Mill know how to make any family holiday special, but there is something magical about their Christmas holidays and the first thing on our plan was to decorate the tree they provided.
Coombe Mill is a working farm and every morning at 9am (10am on Christmas Day) you get to join in with the feed run. Each child gets a chance to drive the tractor, accompanied by Farmer Nick, meet and feed the animals, which include a herd of Fallow deer and hopefully collect some eggs for breakfast.
In the afternoons there is the chance to ride on their miniature train and on Christmas Eve, there is a special guest in the tunnel with presents for the children.
There is also craft hour, where the kids get to make something special for the Christmas table, an invitation to the Christingle Service in nearby village St Tudy, where the service is not only beautiful, but the whole village gathers outside the church afterwards for a mince pie, mulled wine and a gift from Father Christmas and a Christmas Eve party in the Games Room to enjoy afterwards.
Of course, there is their properties too. Coombe Mill was originally a 16th Century water mill, but has been transformed into a beautiful and secluded hamlet of picturesque holiday cottages, Scandinavian and riverside lodges set amidst an idyllic 30 acre private estate between Bodmin Moor and the Beach, all of which come equipped with everything you need, including playrooms for the kids, filled with toys.
Order your shopping online
The last thing you want to do, is go shopping when you get to your destination, so my best advice is to order your shopping to arrive. Christmas shopping slots open early December, so make sure you book your slot. All supermarkets now allow you to update your orders up to midnight the night before your delivery slot, allowing for any last minute needs.
Book Christmas Days Out in advance
Christmas days out, particularly those to see Father Christmas, book up early, so ensure that get your days out booked as early as possible.
We enjoyed the Santa Specials Train Ride at Lappa Valley near Newquay, for our day out, where we got to remind him that we were staying at Coombe Mill for Christmas.
Car Jenga is real!
The real challenge of spending Christmas away from home, is getting everything where it needs to be.
We had to take two cars and even then we still struggled with room. Some places allow you to send big items up early, but remember you need to get them back home again too. We just took presents from us and then had family presents when we got back home.
Don’t forget loved ones back home
Spending Christmas away from home is an adventure, but don’t forget the ones that are still at home. Modern technology is great and we all enjoyed a video chat with Callan, who sadly stayed at home as he had to work and the kids spoke to their grandparents on the phone too.
Be prepared for the weather
Our first Christmas at Coombe Mill was very chilly, whilst the 2nd was what could only be described at wet! This year was mild and damp, so all my thermals stayed unloved in the suitcase, however, the waterproofs and wellies were a godsend.
Explore your surroundings
There was lots to do on the farm with play areas and a games room, but finding out the locals’ recommendations for days out can lead to some real gems and we had lots of fun exploring the local beaches to work off all that Christmas food.
Have you ever spent Christmas away from home – what do you recommend?