Mini-Van Express Tickets


Toot toot, All Aboard The Minivan Express!

Click here to download your golden tickets!

Don’t drive a mini-van? Don’t worry, page 2 has “Christmas Express” tickets, so you can make it work for your family no matter what you’re driving, it could even be a sleigh! ;o) wink…wink…

So what are these golden tickets for?

Ready to start a Christmas tradition that the whole family will enjoy? I know you’ve all seen The Polar Express, well, this is our own version of that fun adventure! Each year we hide the “Golden Tickets” in our kids’ beds. My husband starts the bedtime routine as usual, while I prepare little bags of popcorn and hot chocolate drinks and place them in the car, oh and don’t forget to have Christmas music playing in the car too!

When the kids go to climb into bed, they will find the ticket hidden under their covers, get ready for lots of giggles and screams as they all find their tickets! The kids are then instructed to grab their slippers and head for the car.

Upon entrance to The Minivan Express, we hole punch the ticket (you know for effect and all.) Next, we travel around the city looking at all the beautiful lights. We may even stop somewhere for a fun snack on the way home. Now the kids look forward to this each year and look forward to getting “those special tickets”!

Some trip ideas for you:

  • Check online for best Christmas Lights in your area! Pack up your car with popcorn in rudolf cups, hot chocolate in coffee mugs (with a lid!), and Christmas music! Enjoy driving around your neighborhood checking out all the Christmas lights!
  • Check your local Barnes & Noble, most years they do “The Polar Express “ for story time, all the kids come in their jammies, and ours gave out little jingle bells to all the kids!
  • Ice Skating: If you have a local outdoor ice rink, check out prices and times, and go ice skating!
  • Polar Express Lapbook Printables: Since this idea was taken from The Polar Express, I thought I’d add a link for more fun activities: The Polar Express.
  • North Pole: Check online for North Pole exhibits in your area, some even have a train the kids can ride on!
  • Santa Claus: Pack the kids in the car and take a trip to see Santa at your local mall and get their pictures taken!



  1. What a great idea. You are such a fun mom! We may have to do a version of this. Thank you for sharing!

  2. How fun! I just read this book to my son yesterday for the first time. I will have to do the whole ticket thing Fri when we were going to look at Christmas lights! Thanks for sharing!

  3. That is a great idea! I love looking at Christmas light. We’ll have to remember to do this.

  4. I Love the Idea of the tickets!! We were planning on taking our kiddos out next week and surprising them after they had already gotten into bed etc…. I was wondering if you’d do a version that just had “the light express” or something like that? We don’t have a minivan. 🙁 Anyway, just thought I’d ask. Thanks for all you GREAT and FUN ideas!!!

  5. We were going to go look at lights Saturday night! Gonna use your idea for the little kids! What fun Erika! Thanks so much for doing the “work” for us! 🙂

  6. This is AWESOME!!! My children love watching Polar Express. I am going to do this super fun activity THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am beyond excited 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing!!

  7. We just used these last weekend to go to our Barnes and Noble for the Polar Express night. Thanks, Erica! The kids loved it!
    Andrea @

  8. Debbie Stanton says:

    that is the neatest thing i have seen all year!!! Thank goodness I follow your blog and can “borrow” your creative ideas as I would of never come up with this!! Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Every year we enjoy driving around looking at the Christmas lights. This just upped the fun factor! Thank you!

  10. What a great idea! We always find a night or two for Christmas light looking, but how fun to make it a surprise!

  11. This is such a great idea! We just went to a big light exhibit last night – I wish I had seen this before that! I am pinning it for next year 🙂

  12. Too cold to get out, or too far from big city lights? Check out to play fun games and track Santa’s Christmas Eve progress using Google Earth. This website helps me get my kids to bed on time every Christmas Eve!

    From the NORAD website: “For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight.

    The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

    In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.

    Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. In addition, we now track Santa using the Internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa’s whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website.

    Finally, media from all over the world rely on NORAD as a trusted source to provide updates on Santa’s journey.”

    Really! Check it out!

  13. That sounds like so much fun! Thanks for the idea, and for sharing those printables. 🙂

  14. Love this idea!!! We actually JUST watched the movie again tonight…. Its a family favorite!!

  15. Trista Bytheway says:

    What a simple idea, but I never would have thought of it. This is a beautiful tradition–can’t wait to add it to our arsenal.

  16. what a cool idea!!! can’t wait to spring that one on my gk I’ve used imaginary tickets to ride the swings and we sing a song about where we are going but, the actual tickets would be fun. thanks so much for sharing
    Merry Christmas!

  17. magdalena tigner says:

    This is a spectacular idea!! I printed them out and plan on hiding them in their beds tonight!!! We were going to Nature in Lights tonight anyway, this just made it that much more fun!! Thanks so much for sha. ring!!

  18. What a fantastic, creative idea! Thanks so much for sharing!

  19. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea. I can’t wait to do this!!! Thanks for sharing all your great ideas.

  20. Trisha Brandow says:

    This is absolutely adorable! They actually have a railroad trip in our area that does the Polar Express, but not only do tickets sell out fast, it is EXTREMELY expensive. This is such a great way to bring that book to life for any family. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  21. I absolutely adore this idea! Thanks so much for sharing!

  22. Thank you for sharing! I cannot wait to do this!

  23. Thank you so much for this adorable idea!! We used the tickets, surprised the girls, and it was fantastic!! It is definitely going to be an annual event for our family. LOVE!!!

  24. I just want to thank you for this idea and printable. We did it last night on a whim and they loved it soooo much. At first my 7 year old got up set when she found out we weren’t going on a real train, but she had a blast anyway. This is how I know we are doing it again next year: My 3 year would not let go of his ticket when we got home. He went to bed with it. He got up a couple of times in the middle of the night and still had his ticket in his hand. It was so sweet to see him walk into the living room this morning still holding on to his ticket. He is still holding it as I’m writing this. It was so special to him.

    We had asked someone in our ward who lives in a gated community if we could come to their neighborhood, then she calls me back and said she left out candy canes for the kids. So sweet. We ended up driving about 30 minutes to where my sister lives because we had found out there were a couple of houses who did that light show with the music thing and at the last minute we decided to drop by her house and we sang Jingle Bells and Christmas Bells are Ringing (they had been learning that in Primary). Funny thing is that my sister was doing the same thing (without the tickets)!! Christmas pajamas, picture in front of the tree, popcorn and hot chocolate and the same houses! We had gotten there just in time, it was so funny! She is definitely doing the Christmas Express next year.

  25. I love love love this idea! I’m going to share it on my blog if that’s ok with you. My kiddies are a bit too young this year, but I’m definitely going to do this next Christmas. Thanks so much for sharing.

  26. I just wanted to thank you for the printables. We always do the “tacky light tour” in our city, so I thought it would be cute to surprise them with the tickets. It took what was always a fun time into an amazing adventure for them. They screamed and jumped for joy when they found the tickets on their pillows at bedtime. Getting to go in their PJs with popcorn and hot chocolate for the trip was such fun. Thank you for helping us put a little more magic into our Christmas season. It is amazing how such small things can make such big memories. This will be a family tradition and I’m sure one that my (future) grandchildren will carry on 🙂 Thank you and Merry Christmas!

  27. Thank you for this wonderful idea and download for the tickets!!!! We are going to our daughters for Christmas and doing this with their 4 children–they will be SO excited!!!!! Thank you!!!!

  28. Thank you so much for this adorable idea – found it on pinterest. We did this with our kids tonight and the expression on their faces when they found the tickets in their beds was priceless! They had so much fun (and we had even more fun watching them get so excited) and they kept saying “this is the best night ever” from the backseat. God bless you and yours, have a very Merry Christmas! Thanks for this new tradition in our family.

  29. adrienne profeta says:

    i am sooooooo excited to do this!! we are doing it tonight!!! thank you so much for posting!!

  30. We needed a fun but frugal activity for this evening. This is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing!

  31. Hi Erica! I love this idea and had to share it on my blog. I love your educational ideas too and encouraged my readers to check out your blog. Just wanted to know I linked back to you.

  32. Anastasia says:

    Suuper cute Idea!!

  33. Thank you…Thank you…Thank you……from the bottom of my heart… the very top.

  34. Hi Erica! I don’t even know how I found your blog, but I love it! I am definitely going to do this with my boys this year. I love your passion to share Christ with your children, and I will be taking your lead as I look to find more ways to share Him with my boys.


  35. Thank-you so much for posting this and the printable tickets. I cannot wait to do this with my girls

  36. We did this with our kids last year and they have been asking for months to do it again. They keep asking us when they are going to find those tickets under their pillow again! Thanks for belong our family create such an awesome Christmas memory!!

  37. Found you through the Simple Kids blog. LOVE this idea!!! We have bought tickets for a sort of live theatre train ride that has the characters, songs, etc for the last few years. But at about $100 for our family, we may be riding the TrailBlazer Express next year!! Thanks for the fun idea!

  38. I love this idea and plan to do it this year with my kids. They will love it!

    I also found this awesome free Polar Express preK printable pack on Living Intentionally Blog. Here is the link

  39. Thank you for the cute idea! …and for the printable, that saved me a lot of time!

  40. Love this idea! But I am having trouble downloading the tickets. Will you PLEASE email it to me in a PDF file?

  41. We just did this last night and the kids LOVED it! They were a little confused when I told them to go get their pj’s on at 5:30, but were soooo excited when they found their “Golden Tickets!” We printed them off on photo paper and they looked amazing! I punched their card when they got in the van, served them popcorn & hot chocolate and we listened to Christmas music as they rated the lights 1-10! We went to Grandma’s house because we had an “extra” ticket and she came along in her pj’s too. The kids thought that was great! I had one more surprise in store for them when we ended up at my sister’s house (they LOVE going there) and watched Polar Express in 3D (can I just say it’s AMAZING in 3D?) in their new movie room. So much fun! Thank you SO MUCH for this awesome idea and free printable! The smiles I kept catching on their faces in the rear-view mirror were priceless and they are already talking about doing it again next year! I’m sure this will become a family tradition for many years to come!

  42. I almost cry reading this because it is the most beautiful thing in the world, I mean, creating magical for children. I dont have one yet, but my mother use to do things like that! It is really inspiring and I surely keep it in my head for later!

    Thanks for sharing,
    Olive xox

  43. This is such a fantastic idea! I just posted it on our fan page on Facebook, and plan to put it into action with our family on Friday! Love all the additional suggestions in the comments as well!
    Thanks for sharing!

  44. What a FABULOUS idea, Erica! Thanks so much for sharing your idea and “Mini-Van” and “Christmas Express” tickets! I featured your printable as a Free Printable of the Day at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page (and on Pinterest)

  45. Thanks! We did this tonight and the kids LOVED it 🙂 We had candy canes and went through Starbucks drive through for hot chocolate which was a huge treat. When I could hear that the kids found the tickets, I honked the mini van horn to simulate the train whistle. I would have never thought of this, thanks for helping us find a new tradition.

  46. We just did the Minivan express tonight for the first time. The kids were so excited and I want to make this a yearly tradition. I shared it with all my friends! Thank you for the idea, the template and this great site. 🙂 Blessings and Merry Christmas!

  47. I know this is an old entry, but I love this idea! Thanks for sharing it with all of us. This year we will enjoy our first grand outing to ride on a train that is doing a sort of Polar Express adventure. This ticket thing, the lap book activities, and your other great ideas sound wonderful and I thank you for making the time to share them as well as leave them here for those of us who are just now finding them. *big smile* Have a wonderful Christmas celebration this year (whatever year you read this *smile*). Sinerely, Mommy of two growing blessings & so much more!

  48. This will be our third year doing this, thanks to you! My kids LOVE it and talk about it all year long!!!! They can’t wait. It will be a surprise though on when it is, and I have to be creative in how I surprise them each year. The first year I hid the tickets in the back on the Christmas Story book, and when they read the book at bedtime, they got the surprise. Last year we did a scavenger hunt. This year, no idea yet haha. Gotta decide soon, running out of time! 🙂 thank you for sharing your amazing idea! Pure Brilliance!

  49. I just wanted to take a second to thank you for this amazing idea! We started this 3 years ago (When you first posted about it) and its truly magical. My children look forward to this night almost as much as they look forward to opening their gifts. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you!

    Brooke Norton

  50. I’m loving cristmass traditional history of I need should to my family. …

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