Our Own Polar Express Party

Written by Jennifer W. on December 16th, 2011

Arts and Crafts, Natural Learning, Reading

Every year I get in the holiday spirit by throwing a holiday party based on the book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg — for even longer than I have had kids! I plan it to be fun, engaging, and relaxing. It isn’t even that intensive to create.


I used a simple email invitation this year. In the past I have handed out train tickets with party information printed on them, as well as inviting guests to come in pajamas.


Along with an array of snacks, one thing that cannot be left out is the hot chocolate! With younger children, I would stick to slightly sweetened milk, light on the chocolate. The older kids get the Hot Chocolate Bar: a station filled with sprinkles, marshmallows, whipped cream, peppermint sticks, syrups, candied orange peels, and such. They usually put more time into this activity than any of the others!

Read the book!

When everyone is ready with their snacks and hot chocolate, it is time to get on the train and delve into the Polar Express world. Setting up chairs or blankets on the floor, and punching tickets for those seated, have been a good way to get children to transition to the reading. The pictures are engaging enough to create some great conversations during the story, so don’t be shy about stopping to discuss and enjoy!


Sleigh Bell Necklaces
Take a string of leather, ribbon, or other cord to string on their ticket, sleigh bell, beads, and any other nifty paraphernalia you have.

Make Christmas Cards
With supplies of cardstock, scissors, markers, and stickers, allow each child to make a holiday card or letter to Santa.

Watch the Movie

I generally save this for the last activity for two reasons: 1) To allow families that do not wish to watch the movie a chance to participate before leaving and 2) to allow us some down time to end the event. The movie does have some intense scenes that are not depicted in the book, so I would suggest making sure parents know the movie before allowing their child to watch.


My biggest goal of the party is to create a warm, peaceful environment for the kids to enjoy while giving parents a chance to relax and savor some of the holiday spirit many of us work so hard to provide, but sometimes miss out on ourselves.

5 Responses to Our Own Polar Express Party

  1. Momma Jorje

    What a sweet tradition! I want to attend! 🙂

  2. Sarah Jane  

    What a GREAT idea. I love that movie [even though I never believed in Santa Clause]. Thanks for the idea. I might borrow a few things if I decide to have a polar express party.

  3. Michelle  

    Wow – this sounds like such fun. I might just have to adapt it for The Lion King. Brilliant ideas – many thanks for sharing.

  4. Carol

    This is a great idea. I didn’t think of reading the story to the children first. That will encourage good literacy and listening skills.