It’s that time of year to bundle up, pack a thermos of hot cocoa and watch little eyes go saucer-sized at these super-sized holiday lights displays. Holiday lights help to set the mood for a merry holiday season. These tips for taking the kids to see Christmas lights and light festivals will help you make the most of this wonderful holiday tradition.
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.
This year is no exception, although the continuing Covid pandemic means some changes, such as timed entries, mask requirements and limited capacities at walk-through holiday lights displays, and more drive through Christmas lights shows that make social distancing easy.
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. It’s an easy way to enjoy the holiday tradition in Covid-19 safety with a car full of people in your pandemic pod.
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.
TravelingMom 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!
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In 2021, we also need to remember Covid safety precautions. Be sure to bring along your best festive mask, some sanitizer, and your patience!
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 2021, many 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.