The Polar Express Experience At Home

Embrace the magic of winter with these ideas for celebrating the season inspired by the classic, cozy, and always nostalgic “Polar Express.” All you need are a few jingle bells and a pair of pajamas to settle into a movie screening or bedtime story. Soon, you’ll be on your way to the North Pole. Read on for more ways to embrace the excitement of this magical adventure this holiday season.

‘Polar Express’ Hot Cocoa

Brew a rich chocolate concoction to keep your passengers warm and satisfied at your next holiday party or movie night. Polar Express hot cocoa is notoriously creamy and undeniably indulgent.

  • Ingredients: 6 cups milk, 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed or evaporated milk, 1 1⁄2 cups heavy whipping cream, 1 1⁄2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1⁄8 teaspoon salt.
  • Directions: Combine ingredients in a large pot and cook over low heat, stirring continually for 30-40 minutes, until chocolate is completely melted.
  • Toppings: Set up a cocoa station with Mason jars filled with toppings like mini marshmallows, candy canes, toffee, or Pirouette cookie straws so guests can personalize their cocoa concoctions.
  • Make It Theme: There’s only one rule: Don’t let it cool! Keep your delicious drink nice and hot in a decorative stainless steel chafer urn (like the one in the movie!) that will double as a handy dispenser.
  • Make It Fancy: Bring the Polar Express delight to life with ceramic cups and saucers to elevate your setup.

Snowball (Food) Fight

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Or feel like starting a fight with the family (the fun kind)? Serve up a scrumptious snowball fight. These magical meringues will quickly become a holiday favorite.

  • Ingredients: 3 eggs, 3⁄4 cup sugar, 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional).
  • Method: Beat eggs in a mixing bowl until stiff. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until it forms firm peaks; this should take less than 10 minutes. Add vanilla extract, if using, and beat until dispersed. Using a tablespoon, scoop out “snowballs” and place onto a foil- or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake meringues for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 250 F — be sure not to open the oven during this time. Remove from oven and let stand and dry for 2 hours or up to overnight.
  • Toppings: To serve, dust with freshly fallen “snow” in the form of powdered sugar and clear or light blue crystal sprinkles.

Deck the Halls With Trains and Holly

If the kids in your life are going through a “train phase,” these are the decorations for you. These subtle and sophisticated additions to your decor evoke whimsical feelings of traveling through snowy mountains to the North Pole.

Get On the Craft Train: Spending a winter afternoon getting crafty is a great, easy way to keep kids busy while getting in the holiday spirit. Cut out train stencils (you can find these online) and trace a handful of train cars, wagons, and a caboose on colored construction paper. Cut out shapes and punch out holes in the tops to thread them through twine or ribbon and create individual ornaments or a garland. Decorate! For extra fun, cut out photos of the family and glue their faces to your trains so they can be passengers on the adventure.

  • Materials: colorful construction paper, scissors, hole punch, twine or ribbon.
  • Additional Decorations: markers, paint, stickers, pom-poms, white glitter for “snow,” etc.

Make Your Wreath from Scratch: Begin with a circular train track secured to a hook with hot glue. Add greenery, holly berries, and pine cones to create a fuller wreath look. From there, you can attach and secure small toy train wagons, ornaments, and anything else you like to personalize your wreath with hot glue or floral wire.

Train-in’ Around the Christmas Tree: Set the stage for the gifts under the tree by placing a train track around the base. Place a train or a few along the track and turn it on. You and your little ones will love watching the colorful toy trek round and round. For extra ambiance, place small trees or figurines alongside the track to create a mini landscape.

Texas Trains to the North Pole

Escape to winter wonderlands throughout the state on these timeless train rides.

Polar Express, Palestine: Put on your PJs and hop on the Texas State Railroad’s Polar Express, departing for the North Pole straight from the Palestine Depot. Get lost in the magic as you’re served hot chocolate and cookies, listen along to the classic children’s story, and receive a gift from St. Nick himself.
Texas State Railroad, 789 Park Rd. 70, 855.632.7729

West Pole Express, College Station: Welcome to Santa’s Wonderland! Here, you can catch a ride on the West Pole Express, which is covered in hundreds of Christmas lights.
18898 Hwy. 6, 979.690.7212

Historic Jefferson Railway, Jefferson: Climb aboard the Historic Jefferson Railway and hear the story of Christmas as you watch beautifully lit vignettes pass by along the Big Cypress Bayou.
400 E. Austin St., 866.398.2038

True train enthusiasts can take a step into the past with this history of the rise and fall of the Texas railroad. True hot chocolate enthusiasts can learn how to set up a holiday hot chocolate bar here.

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