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. 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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

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