Oct 27, 2014

Polar Express Ward Christmas Party

It's almost Christmastime again 
Ahhhh, that most wonderful time of the year.

I'm finally posting pictures 
from last year's ward Christmas party. 

I know.  I'm a slacker!

Truthfully, it's taken so long because
I've been overwhelmed by the sheer number of pictures
that the other photographer and I took.
Seriously, we rocked this party so big
there were just too many good things to photograph!

I am nothing without the FANTASTIC committee 
that helped carry out so many ideas, 
as well as coming up with so many of their own great visions!
We worked hard, and we had fun doing it!

This train.  
I LOVE how adorable it turned out!!!

When I was put in charge of this party, the 
very. first. thing. I. wanted.
was a train.
Thanks to Devin from Salt and Pepper Moms
and her engineering prowess, I got just what I wanted!
It's constructed of several painted cardboard boxes, foil, and vinyl lettering.
The headlight is one of those countertop push lights from the dollar store.

I guess I'll just walk you through as though you were a guest at our party.

First, we'll greet you at the front door!
Welcome to The Polar Express experience!

The floor was made to look like train tracks!

To your left is the ticket booth 
(every family had previously been given tickets to the event)

One of these lovely elves would be glad to take your ticket for you.
(if you forgot your ticket, you may have to sing or dance!)

and to your right is a tree and
small train to get you in the spirit of Christmas!

Get ready for a snowy journey!

Next, you enter the 'overflow' area to ride the train to the North Pole!
It's so magical to watch the flurry of snowflakes outside!


Sing a carol or two while you enjoy your bumpy ride!

Be sure to sign the passenger list before exiting the train!

This list is STILL in the bishop's office, almost a year later.

You will then be directed to enter the NORTH POLE!

So much good food waiting right inside,
served by our handsome chefs!

Would you like seconds?

Next, you will find a seat for you and your family at one of these beautifully decorated tables,
complete with train tracks and wintery trees.

For the how-to's on making these fun and simple trees,

The whole room is aglow with lights and snowflakes.

After you finish eating your delicious meal,
you can head to the dessert table for some delicious homemade hot cocoa!

Every imaginable cocoa topping!

What hot cocoa bar is complete without an abundance of homemade cookies???

A very special guest has arrived!
I love how pleased this little boy looks to see Santa!

Someone is VERY excited to see Santa!

EVERYONE is happy to see Santa!

Okay, maybe not everyone.
Is Santa the greatest, or what?
Look how much fun he is having!

Why don't you have a little bit of fun with your friends 
in the workshop while you're waiting for your turn to talk to Santa!

Oh, did our mention that the bishop was our conductor on the train?

But wait,

we have one more extra special guest.

He silently appears.

The lights are dimmed.

There's a hush in the room.

Silent Night is softly playing in the background.

The bishop/conductor begins to read 
calmly and reverently
a story about Santa Claus and Jesus Christ.

Enjoying the peaceful Spirit that the Savior brings
was a perfect way to end our evening with our ward/church family.


A HUGE thank you to all of MY GIRLS, the committee members 
who worked tirelessly!
I had a blast with all of them!
I love you ladies!!!!!!!!
Kathy, Suzi, Devin, Beth, Tracie, Hillari, Christy, Nancy and Connie!
(I hope I didn't forget anyone!!!) 

Also a big thanks to the wonderful 
Karyann Photography for being the roaming photographer at the party
because I was too busy to stop and take pictures.
She's a wonderful photographer and is one of the nicest people I know!

So many of the efforts to put this together were also provided
 by the other ward who meets in our building.
I figured we may as well work together and only decorate the building once, 
therefore stretching our manpower and budgets a little bit further.
Amazingly they went for that idea 
and helped make this bigger and better than I even dreamed!
Thanks to them for the Christmas lights,
the ticket booth,
decorating the stage,
a ton of the snowflakes and more!

We tried to include everyone in our ward to participate in some way with the party.

The primary children made snowflakes.
The Young Women made their own elf aprons, were ticket takers
and hot cocoa servers.
The Young Men served dinner.
The moms brought cookies and funeral potatoes.
The Lyman family for being the most beautiful Nativity family I've ever seen.

I was told that around 100 people would attend, 
but to plan for 150.
There ended up being about 225 or so people at this party.
It was crazy crowded (our building is old and small),
the lines were long,
but miraculously there was more than enough food for everyone!
I couldn't have been more pleased!

Next time we'll plan more tables!

Oh yeah, guess what?
I just got put in charge of the next Christmas party!  lol


  1. You knocked this out of the ballpark! Way out! It seems like people are so busy nowadays hat no one is willing to put in the effort to make these occasions very memorable anymore. It's more like something to check off the list. I know your ward will remember this for a long time to come! Can't wait to see what you are working on for this year!

    1. Coming from a hardcore party planner, that means a lot! Thanks, Kendra!!! You made my day!

      I'm very blessed to be in a ward with several wonderful ladies who let me talk them into stuff. haha. We are already excited with ideas for this year's party! :)

  2. Oh..and I love your coffee filter trees. ;-)

    1. Oh gosh, thanks! I got the idea from an incredibly gorgeous, talented, creative gal I know. You might know her! ;)

    2. Here's the link to the trees! :)

  3. How did you do the tracks? tape?


    very cleaver and creative. I want to do this for our ward party but im struggling. love your idea.

    1. Thank you so much, Kerilynn! It was a blast! Good luck with your party plans too!

      Yes, we used tape for the tracks on the tables and the carpet. :)

      Merry Christmas!

  4. What a wonderful ward Christmas party. Makes me miss my days as a ward activity chair. Not. But, I'm pinning your party just. in. case.

    1. Thank you!!

      Never say never! I'll always eat my words when I say that (just like now cuz we're going overboard with this year's party and I swore we wouldn't). Haha.

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  6. Hi Cindy! This party is amazing and I am working on something similar for our ward. I want to know your secret for hanging the lights & snowflakes from the gym ceiling! It looks like there is wire or string strung across? Where did you secure it? And are those zipties? I'm loosing sleep over the logistics of it- haha! Thanks!

    1. Hi Alia! So glad you found some inspirational ideas here!

      There are permanent loop hooks spaced somewhat evenly that are deeply screwed into the walls high above. We lucked out that they were put there years ago (probably for a wedding reception). We strung heavy gauge wire across from those hooks the length of the gym. Be sure to do that BEFORE you set up your tables. Get some heavy duty manpower and tall ladders. Our guys said it took them about 4-5 hours. I'm just super grateful that they did it. The wires were put up on Wednesday so that we could decorate on Thursday. Then they hung the white Christmas lights the opposite direction draped OVER the heavy gauge wires.

      The snowflakes were tied randomly everywhere with clear fishing line.

      If you have any other questions, let me know. Good luck and HAVE FUN!

    2. Also, just an FYI:
      We combined with the other ward in our building to stretch the dollars and have twice the manpower. Their party was Fri and ours was Sat. That worked so well that we combined with them last year too for our Grinch party, which I still haven't blogged, but was equally amazing. The men from the other Ward did all the high-wiring & Christmas lights and our ward made all the decorations. I looooved having their help! We could never have pulled it off without them. Get all your red-neck ladder-climbing guys to help! lol

    3. thanks so much for all your inspiration Cindy: http://www.partylikeacherry.com/polar-express-party-the-whole-shibang/

    4. Alia, your party turned out magical! Great job!! I especially love those hand painted windows, the greenery under your centerpieces & the wooden snowflakes! Beautiful!! So happy that you found inspiration here! :)

  7. Wow! I was really hoping you were going to say "it was a cinch, I threw them up all by myself in 30 minutes" hah! I'll see if I can recruit some help I guess! Thanks so much for responding. Thats great that your wards can collaborate like that. I think our wards are too touchy and it would be a fiasco. Getting them to combine trunk or treats took major lobying ;)

  8. Okay, I'm coming across this a year later, but how were the stanchions made? (The cans and sticks painted gold that made the posts for the "gate" as you came in..) Is that cement in the cans? Sand? I zoom in and can't tell! I have been planning to make stanchions for our party out of toilet plungers painted gold, but these are much better!

    1. Hi Rob!

      Great question! These have been circulating several events for quite a few years now, which tells you how sturdy they are.

      They are made with #10 cans, cement, and PVC pipe. There is the tall piece of plastic pipe, then at the top there's the smaller piece that has 3 holes (I don't know PVC lingo...lol). One hole attaches to the tall pipe and the other 2 holes are used to string tulle or ribbon or whatever through. Does that make sense?

      Let me know if you have any other questions and GOOD LUCK with your party!

      Merry Christmas!



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