We last visited Build-a-Bear Workshop a couple of years ago when the kids were given a gift voucher. Then aged three and one I think they were a little too young and didn't really get the concept, but on our return visit today, now they are older, they loved the entire process.
For the un-initiated this is a shop where you create your own teddy by stuffing a skin (but you probably could have guessed that from the shop's name). The staff make it a truely magical experience for the kids. After choosing their skin they pick a heart from the tub to go amongst the stuffing and the staff encouraged the kids to imbue the hearts with certain qualities by performing different acts - my daughter rubbed the heart on her nose to make her bear nosey and ran on the spot to make him fast. Finally they made wishes on the hearts.
My daughter chose a polar bear and my son a Santa. The polar bear was quickly christened "Snowy" but Santa has remained Santa. I suppose "Snowy the bear" works well as a name - but my son could hardly call his "Brian Santa". I don't think Santa is his surname!
The children needed to choose whether they wanted a sound effect and a scent for the bear. So Snowy sings Rudolf the red nosed reindeer and smells of strawberry, Santa wasn't given a smell, but did get a very appropriate "Ho! Ho! Ho!" sound effect.
The stuffing machine is brilliant fun. The staff hold the bear (or Santa) over a pipe and the kids operate the foot pedal to make the fluff come out. My daughter thought it was a bit loud, but nothing that sticking her fingers in her ears couldn't cure.
The staff were all amazing, even the ones that weren't serving us were asking the kids questions about their bears or helping by making a treasure hunt out of the bear's birth certificates.
Once the toys were stuffed they headed over to have a bath. The shower heads blew air onto the bears and the kids gave them a good brush. Then it was off to the clothing area. Santa was given a suitable suit, boots and rollerskates. After all with the rising price in sleigh fuel he needs a more economical delivery method. Oh, and apparently he also needs a light sabre!
Snowy needed a smart red puffer jacket to keep him warm in the Arctic, some Union Jack shoes, roller skates and a lead to help him skate along. As Snowy is only a beginner skater we also ended up with tiny crutches and plaster cast in case of an accident!
The final part of the process is 'officially' naming the bear. The staff sat with the kids and helped them put the information into the computer themselves.
The kids had such a wonderful time at Build-a-Bear Workshop; the process makes each bear extra special. Both went home happy and tired, ready to fall into bed with their new friends.
Disclaimer: We were given two toys and the clothes and accessories in return for this post.