It doesn’t get more Christmasy than loading the family up into the vehicle and heading out after dark to tour the city and take in all of the festively decorated houses. This act of goodwill, decorating your house with lights that you can’t see while in your home but others can delight in as they drive by always warms my heart. I so appreciate that as neighbours, we do this for one another. Christmas lights are just magical no matter how you cut it. A full-blown display of lights adorning every line? Magic. A single strand lining half a window? Magic.
In my household, I see myself as a bit of a curator and keeper of traditions. We love keeping long-standing traditions and we also like tweaking them and adding to them. I want to share some of our traditions and other ways to enhance your twinkle tour this year
Twinkle Tour Express
Especially in our kids younger years, we loved surprising them with a twinkle tour at bedtime (we may or may not have altered the clocks so that we weren’t actually keeping them out too late). We would wait until everyone was in their PJ’s before a “knock” at the door alerted them to a package on the doorstep. Inside were tickets for the Twinkle Tour Express (must be used tonight) that were also coincidentally sprinkled with glitter.
Our kids would grab soft blankets and their stuffies and head to the truck where they were greeted with hot chocolate and a treat. Even though they always knew that it was mom and dad behind all the tickets, treats and plans, kids love when parents join them in the world of make-believe.
Estevan has so many great places to grab your twinkle tour treats. I think we’ll definitely be snagging cinnamon buns from Michaels and at least one child will choose a donut from Tims. You can even order an appetizer platter from any of the fantastic restaurants in town.
Favourite Display Award
Before our twinkle tour, we like to go and pick out a Christmas tree ornament that we can award to the house that we think decorated in a way that goes above and beyond. We write a little card and package it together in a gift bag. After we’ve toured the city, as a family we vote on our favourite light display and we drive back to that house. In the card, we thank them for the time and effort they put into decorating and we leave the gift package hanging from their doorknob. We think it’s a simple way to spread some good cheer at Christmas.
* This year you may want to use your discretion or sanitize/quarantine the gift beforehand.
Twinkle Tour Bingo
Each year I make a custom Bingo sheet (or a pack of Bingo sheets) where each square has a different Christmas decoration on it. We will either complete the Bingo card as a family (best for younger kids) or individually. In our family, we have a prize for the first line (or an X or any other typical Bingo shape – just decide beforehand) and then a prize for a blackout.
Looking for items keeps everyone engaged and adds some fun and friendly competition. Our rule is that you can only mark off one square per house so you also have to use a little strategy and make sure you’re taking care of your less common items first.
Twinkle Tour Bingo Race
One way to have a little physically distant fun with friends this year is to challenge them to a Bingo Race. Pick a night and time to start, print off a Bingo sheet for each vehicle and race (while obeying all speed limits – ha) to blackout your bingo card. You can have your co-pilot be in charge of messaging the other vehicle to celebrate your findings or engage in some friendly trash talking.
To take it to the next level you can call the other vehicle/s and put it on speakerphone so that you have to be careful not to give away too many clues about what you’re finding and so that you get to chat with your friends while you do the tour as well.
Prizes are always a good time and each vehicle playing can contribute to the grand prize for the winning family.
Festival of Lights Finale
The annual Festival of Lights at Woodlawn Regional Park starts December 18 and runs until January 8 and it is the PERFECT finale to your city-wide twinkle tour. Within the campground, various local businesses and organizations adopt a camping spot and create Christmas light and decoration displays. This year there are 39 displays – the most participation yet! This is one of our favourite events and it just keeps getting better every year.
Because I spend so much time walking in that area I’ve seen all the groups hard at work at various times over the weeks leading up to the opening. It’s again so heartwarming and encouraging to see these businesses and groups put the financial and time investment into bringing joy and whimsy to this season. There is so much thought and creativity put into these displays and they’re beautiful. You can head to the park after dusk any night while it’s running and drive through the displays. It really is magical down there and they can’t wait for you to see it.
In a year where Christmas won’t look like it’s always looked, we hope these Twinkle Tour traditions will be a source of comfort and cheer.