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The Polar Express, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, is a holiday classic. The book was awarded the esteemed Caldecott Medal in 1986, and it still captures the heart of readers young and young at heart today. If you’re looking for a theme for a party this holiday season, having a DIY Polar Express party is sure to celebrate the magic of the holidays.
DIY Polar Express Party
To start, be sure to get the kids involved right from the start! The main character in the book wakes up to find a magical train headed to the North Pole outside his house, and that’s where the fun begins. Ask kids to create their own train – they might line up pillows or chairs and pretend the Polar Express has come to the house.
Using imagination to play is an essential part of childhood as it helps the brain develop. Kids can take turns playing different roles like the conductor, the engineer, and passengers. Bonus; if you have items for dress up like a conductor’s hat, a train whistle, etc. However, passengers of the Polar Express are usually in their pajamas, so feel free to make it a pajama party.
A ride on a train wouldn’t be complete without a ticket to ride. Give kids paper and markers and fancy scissors (for the older ones) and challenge them to create tickets to ride the Polar Express. Brainstorm what information might be found on a ticket with kids – maybe the date, the name of the train, the destination, the cost of a ticket. Then let them get creative in designing their own Polar Express tickets.
Now, a party wouldn’t be a party without great food! Hot chocolate is a given, it’s a perfect winter treat and even more perfect when matched with The Polar Express. For snacks on the ride, toss together Golden Grahams, mini-marshmallows, and chocolate chips for S’Mores Trail Mix. As a special treat, invite kids to help you put together North Pole S’Mores. This recipe puts a wintery spin on the campfire classic with which everyone can help.
North Pole S’Mores Recipe
- 1 tub Cool Whip
- 1 bag mini-marshmallows
- 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 package chocolate-covered graham crackers
Mix the Cool Whip, mini-marshmallows, and chocolate chips in a bowl. Scoop mixture onto a graham cracker, top with another graham cracker to make a S’More sandwich. Enjoy! Or put them in the freezer for about an hour and let them chill before you…enjoy!
And while you’re snuggled up in your pajamas, in your imaginary train, sipping hot chocolate and munching on North Pole S’Mores, read The Polar Express and take turns telling about your favorite Christmas memory. The magic of Christmas truly is in the power of people to believe, and there’s something magical about sharing stories. We connect through stories and while throwing your own Polar Express party, you’re creating memories as much as sharing them. And memories can last a lifetime.
Editor’s note: while many of our local park districts offer actual Polar Express Train rides they tend to sell out very early. Check your local park district for availability.
Find more Christmas events and activities at Christmas in Lake County.
Jen Vincent is a Technology Integration Specialist for Mundelein School District 75 who loves to stay busy and go on adventures with her two monsters, Jordan and Danny, and her sports-loving husband, Chad. As a writer, blogger and educator, she strives to model and inspire others to live a growth mindset in everything she does — be it staying in a yurt on a yoga retreat, writing a novel, or ordering a drink at Starbucks. While she loves a good Kombucha and a fresh salad, she can tell you where to get the best vegan chocolate cake and non-meat “bacon” burger in Chicagoland. Jen blogs can be found on Twitter at @mentortexts as well as jenvincentwrites.com.
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