In 2016 inspired by my first round of Christmas Lights blogging, Daniel Evans emailed me with a high priority top level task of planning the ultimate Christmas Lights Bus tour. With a small hire bus alongside great company, including progressive degustation, conversation and fantastic Christmas displays, the evening felt to be a resounding success. It got me thinking, what a great way for a group of people to get into the Christmas Spirit together plus unwind, at the same time have a little fun. Fast forward a year and I began registering interest from a lot of friends, and decided to take the punt on organising my own Christmas Lights Bus Tour.
If you are thinking of organising an end of year Christmas Lights Bus trip (which I highly recommend), here are some handy hints.
Get Out There Early
Be sure to get out in the evenings leading up to the trip to check out a range of locations so you can generate a list of locations you would like to visit. Sometimes going off the 4KQ app alone without any preplanning can lead you to some pretty average displays and with only 3 viewing hours in an evening, every second is priceless and your friends will only want to see the best!
Everybody Loves a Good Route
After you’ve visited a load of places you will then have a great idea of displays in which you would like to visit on the trip. Google maps have some great route planning software which helps give you a good indication of travel time between locations which allows you to adequately schedule the evening. Remember with only 3 hours on viewing time per evening, every minute of travel counts. A rough balance of the evening should be a 50/50 split of driving time vs time spent at a display. I’ve found you can usually only fit in around six displays in one evening.
No not a form of poultry! This year I generated my own game of Christmas Lights Bingo for our trip which added another exciting competitive angle to the trip and also encouraged my friends to look a little deeper into subtlety’s of the displays.
A wee problem
Something I quite stupidly forgot this year was to plan a toilet break. Luckily we passed a Maccas on the way, so we pulled in there, but at about the halfway point in the trip, this is certainly necessary. We are not Amazon.com, I shalt not treat my friends this way.
In the mood for food
Something I didn’t do this year, which happened in the 2016 trip was organising 1 or 2 longer catering stops along the way. I feel this trip missed that opportunity and in future I would definitely be looking at including more of those.
Don’t be stiff, be flexible
Be prepared to keep the itinerary flexible. The trip will almost never go completely to schedule, and nor should it as sometimes you will want to spend longer in some places or not as much time in others. Be flexible, be ready to make on the spot changes in order to get to the displays you most want to show off to your guests.S
I know what you’re thinking, with 20 guests scattered across some of the larger displays, rounding them up without looking like a shouting soccer mum was to be a voice losing, time-wasting task, so I bought a $9 party air horn from Stacks and it worked immeasurably. Upon the sounding of the horn, everyone knew to return to the bus. Dilmah, do try it.
A kick ass soundtrack is a must on the bus. Pop’y sing along Christmas hits plus some pop classics keep the energy up on the bus. Tip- you cannot go wrong with playing All I Want For Christmas is You. Actually it’s a test, if any of your friends can’t stand that song, they probably don’t have the spirit to belong on the bus.
There’s some of my tips. With the right planning and a bus full of high spirited friends the three hours will fly by and I guarantee everyone will have a blast.