We went on the Christmas Train a few years ago, and it was so fun. And magical. And a great experience. We loved it, but it was a little costly and while we are SO glad we experienced it, we probably won’t pay to ride again.
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Combine the price with COVID, and we obviously couldn’t ride the magical Christmas Train in 2020. So instead, we brought the Christmas train to us! In preparing this fun Christmas activity for kids, I thought back on all the activities and events of the train and tried to re-create them. So hop aboard and enjoy a ride on the Christmas Train at home with us! I’ll give you all the plans you need to create this (cheap!) Christmas activity right at home.
First, I sent the kids upstairs to get in their Christmas pajamas. I let them stay up and watch Charlie Brown Christmas, but didn’t tell them what would be waiting for them when they came back downstairs. Here’s where the preparation started.
Preparation and Schedule for the Night on the Train:
Characters for the Christmas Train
One very fun part of the Christmas train was the entertainment. There were a few elves onboard who ran Christmas activities for the kids. So the first item of preparation was to make sure I had an elf on our train at home.
I bought a very affordable elf apron/hat set from Amazon and used that as my apparel for the night (pictured below from Amazon). It was festive and fun, without costing much! It even has little bells along the bottom so you can “hear” Christmas during the ride!
The Christmas Train also drives through the North Pole and spots Santa, so I wanted to make sure the kids had a good view from their window. Again, I bought an affordable wall-hanging from Amazon to help add some magic to the ride. This particular wall hanging is vinyl, not cloth. But the design was perfect, as it looks like a window and has a snowy backdrop with Santa in the foreground waving.
Of course, I didn’t reveal this wall hanging / North Pole picture right away on the train ride 😉
Dining Cart Set Up
For the dining cart on our Christmas Train at Home, I chose a large hallway area. It was big enough to set up a small table, but cozy enough that it felt intimate. Hang as many lights as you can around the area, as well as any lit-up decorations, trees, North Pole decor…really anything that would relate to the magic of the night will work! You can use some of these DIY Giant Paper Snowflakes as well. Use what you have, it doesn’t have to cost extra to decorate 🙂
To create more ambiance, I ran a YouTube video on the computer. It’s a video that strictly just show a train window seat as it drives through a winter blizzard. You can hear the chugging of the train on the tracks. It adds a nice touch. Here is the video.
Dinner on the Christmas Train
It was really fun being on the real train and enjoying the ride while we ordered dinner. So for our pretend Christmas train ride with the kids, I made a simple dinner (chicken tortilla bake, but anything will do!) I then set up our little-kids picnic table in our train area so it would feel like a little “booth” on the train. For the older kids, I set out a Christmas table cloth for their eating area.
Have dinner prepared ahead of time so that it can be served shortly after your train departs. As the elf, you can go to the kitchen-cart and bring dinner into the dining cart to serve. Serve dinner right after the train departs, that way it is warm, the kids bellies are full, and you can get on with the rest of the activities!
Santa and the North Pole are covered up with a blanket of snow right now, as we haven’t reached the North Pole yet!
Activities on the Christmas Train
As the kids finish up dinner, the elf started handing out paper and coloring activities they could do at their seats as we traveled. I found some simple coloring pages, color-by-numbers, dot-to-dot, and I-Spy Christmas activity sheets on Pinterest. The ones I used were from 123kidsfun.com and the kids enjoyed them on the ride.
The North Pole
Eventually, our Christmas train arrived at the North Pole! We tried to get the kids excited that we were nearing Santa’s village, and as we pulled through, we took down the snowy backdrop on the wall to reveal Santa at the North Pole.
Now their view from their booth was a little more exciting!
We added a big bonus though. I had a little connection to the North Pole, so I called in a favor to make the Christmas Train ride a little more magical. While the kids stared at the wall hanging of Santa and the North Pole, they then heard bells outside the door. Soon enough, Santa was inside and visiting with the kids! He stayed a while, talked with each of them, took some pictures, handed out candy canes, and then said good bye.
Obviously, this is a huge favor that you’ll need a connection to a North Pole guest for, so if Santa is busy and unavailable the night of your Christmas Train, no worries. The kids can still see him out the “window” and perhaps you can hand out some candy canes. The rest of the night still holds lots of magic.
Then, clear up any leftover dinner plates. We stood and sang a bunch of fun Christmas songs together. It was fun as we sang and danced and the bells from the elf’s apron jingled. The kids each picked a song or two. They actually really had fun with this part. My pictures are a bit blurry to post because we stood up and held hands to sing, but also spun around in a ring-around-the-rosy type to dance the whole time.
Storytime on the Christmas Train
We calmed down and cleared some space on the floor to then read a book together. I (the elf) read them Santa’s Christmas Train. It is a fun story about kids who climb aboard a train, sing and play with elves and visit the North Pole. Very appropriate for our night! And, it has fun, colorful illustrations. It really captured the kids’ attention, especially as we read it in the ambience of Christmas lights.
And a Big, Warm Cookie
No Christmas Train is complete without a giant, warm chocolate chip cookie. I made these ahead of time as well, so they would be ready! I used the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag, but put the cookies on the cookie sheet in huge scoops (like, a quarter-cup scoops) instead. I lowered the oven to 350 (the recipe said 375) and cooked them a little over 15 minutes. This allowed the cookie to be larger, but still cook all the way.
These cookies were the perfect way to end the train ride and say goodbye!
Overall, the Christmas Train at Home took about an hour to and hour-and-a-half. Between eating, playing, singing, reading, the North Pole, and dessert, the kids had a great time and it was a special, magical way to add to the Christmas season!
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