It’s happening!!! Holiday season kicks off with the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and runs like a crazy Polar Express through New Year’s. Many families celebrate with a trip to a Christmas light display. These holiday light festivals can be intimate neighborhood strolls or supersized stadium events. They’re meant to be joyful family holiday traditions. But sometimes, wires get crossed. Toddlers cry. Tweens whine. And no one likes cold toes. Here are parent-tested tips for a fun trip to a holiday lights display – one you’ll remember for the smiles, not the tears.
Planning the Perfect Holiday Lights Family Outing
Few things can warm up a winter night and raise the level of holiday cheer quite like a brilliant Christmas lights display. From New York to Hawaii, South Dakota to Texas, London to Sydney, towns around the world create extravagant Christmas light shows each year.
But getting the most out of these annual holiday events means prepping the kids, keeping them warm and choosing the right Christmas lights displays. Littles might be happy with nothing more than a short drive around around your town to see how your neighbors are lighting up for the season. But if you want more, read on for the tips you need to get the most out of your holiday experience.
1. Choose the Right Light Display
There are many different types of Christmas light displays. Selecting the right type of event for your family is key to the success of your trip.
For toddlers and preschoolers with short attention spans, events at the Zoo or a Christmas-themed light festival with activities will minimize meltdowns. Elementary-aged kids can sit for a little longer at illuminated boat parades and sit in the car for slow drives along trails that wind through numerous towns.
If it’s super cold or you want to see the lights with a multigenerational group that includes seniors with mobility challenges, consider one of the drive through Christmas lights displays. No one wants to feel left out of holiday fun.
2. Dress and Pack Appropriately
Nothing kills a happy outing like a toddler who decides she’s freezing two minutes into the excursion. Dress the family in layers. Even in the warmest climates, temperatures can dip in the evening when the lights come on. Being prepared is key.
Other things to throw in a bag? Snacks, phone chargers, a blanket for hayrides and a thermos of cocoa if you’re feeling festive. A wagon can make a big difference when visiting walk-through Christmas light displays.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Here’s how to keep a toddler warm in winter.
3. Review Safety Procedures for Christmas Lights Visits
No, we don’t mean how to make the quickest exit to the car. Light displays tend to happen at night. Add in crowds and darkness and it becomes easy for a little one to dart away quickly.
On the way to the holiday light festival, remind preschoolers what to do if they get lost and who they should ask for help. With older kids, set a meeting spot. Line the kids up for a quick photo before heading into the event. If they do disappear, you’ll know what they were wearing.
In all likelihood, your visit will go off without a hitch but being prepared is always good!
Covid remains a concern in 2022. Check event websites for safety precautions. Concerned about crowds? Be sure to bring along your best festive mask, some sanitizer and your patience!
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4. Try Something New
Maybe you always visit the same living Nativity or drive the same stretch of the 100-mile holiday lights fest. With so many unique light experiences out there, seek out something different this year.
You don’t have to spend loads of money to enjoy holiday lights. Some of the best displays are free or, if they charge a fee, it’s used to raise money for important community entities.
5. Plan, Plan, Plan
We love to be spontaneous. But winging it on Christmas light displays can be tricky. In 2022, some involve reservations, tickets and set times. Make sure that you don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Be sure to research Christmas lights in your area and be aware of any local restrictions and regulations before heading out. We’ve helped you out below with some regional lists of Christmas Lights displays (including drive-thru holiday lights).
Reading tips from folks who have been there can make a huge difference. Learn the best ways to avoid crowds and maximize your time. You’ll learn what to pack and tricks to parking nearby.