The Minivan Express: A Family Favorite Christmas Tradition

MINIVAN EXPRESSI’m sure you’ve seen or heard of local rail companies hosting train rides with Santa or Polar Express-style trips this time of year.  I know many families who enjoy these exciting excursions as a yearly tradition.  But for our family of five, the related cost is usually not something we’re comfortable spending in an already financially-draining month.  So a few years back we came up with our own version – the Minivan Express!

All you need is some hot chocolate, comfortable PJs, and a minivan (or other family vehicle), and you’ve got a family tradition your kids will be talking about year after year.

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The kids about to board last year’s Minivan Express!

This fun night gets added to our Advent Activity Calendar but, to keep it a surprise, I disguise it with something much less exciting like, ‘Pick a Christmas carol for your bedtime song.’  Then, while the kids are getting ready for bed, I whip up some hot chocolate in travel cups, grab their tickets and a snack, and get ready for the reveal.  The Hubs drives the van around to the front porch, so it’s warm and ready for our trip.

I usually channel my inner Tom Hanks and act as conductor.  I give the kids their own ticket, which they must present to me to get on board.  I’ve made my own tickets in years past, but this year I found these adorable tickets over at This Grandma is Fun!  I so appreciated the ease of printing and cutting instead of reinventing the wheel this time around (plus these look way better than the ones I made).

Once we’re all aboard (family dog included), we ride around looking at Christmas lights, sipping hot chocolate, and listening to Christmas music.  This year we added a little spice by bringing along a Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt.  (Helpful Hint:  Bring small flashlights or book lights so the kids can see their papers.)

There’s no dancing waitstaff or ghostly hobos on top of our van, and our final stop is home instead of the North Pole, but I think this yearly tradition we’ve made is every bit as good as a ride on the Polar Express.

What’s one of your family’s favorite Christmas traditions?

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