Christmas Light Tunnel

This sensory light box is an old blog post here on The OT Toolbox, but this Christmas light tunnel is one that my kids still talk about.

Creating a sensory-rich environment is essential for promoting optimal child development, and one innovative way to achieve this is through a DIY project like the one we made many years ago… the sensory light tunnel made from a cardboard box with Christmas lights.

Christmas light tunnel is a sensory tunnel made with a cardboard box and lights

Christmas Light Tunnel

This sensory play activity, often referred to as a “sensory light box” or “sensory light tunnel,” can be a fun addition to a child’s play space, providing both visual and tactile stimulation.

A Christmas light tunnel is exactly what you might imagine it to be…a tunnel made from cardboard boxes lit by Christmas lights that poke through holes in the box.

Making a sensory light tunnel is easy and inexpensive for parents and caregivers, making it a fantastic DIY project. Most of us have cardboard boxes available to us from deliveries, and Christmas lights are often times a household item.

The cardboard fort ideas we came up with many years ago come to life after the holidays when we were putting away Christmas lights for the year. WE used a few cardboard boxes, and taped them together to form a tunnel, creating a unique and inviting space for play.

Incorporating Christmas lights not only adds a festive touch but also introduces sensory lighting to the environment, fostering visual engagement and exploration.

Sensory Light Box for Babies

A sensory light box for babies and toddlers involves transforming a simple cardboard box into a magical tunnel of lights. The light box sensory play is designed to captivate young minds and enhance their sensory experiences. This DIY Christmas light tunnel serves as an indoor box fort, offering a cozy and imaginative space for children to explore.

The therapy providers will love this activity because it can be a calming and regulating sensory space in a home or in a calm down corner. For younger children, it’s a great way to encourage crawling.

Research supports the benefits of sensory play for child development. According to studies, sensory experiences contribute to cognitive, emotional, and social development in young children. The sensory cardboard box for babies provides opportunities for them to develop fine motor and gross motor skills, enhance spatial awareness for babies, and stimulate their senses in a safe and controlled environment.

For parents seeking research-backed information to support their child’s needs, this DIY light tunnel aligns with the principles of sensory processing, a well-established approach in occupational therapy for children with sensory processing difficulties. By incorporating Christmas lights into the sensory play, the child’s visual system is engaged, promoting attention, focus, and exploration.

We love this sensory light tunnel made from a cardboard box and Christmas lights for babies and toddlers.

It’s a great, inexpensive occupational therapy tool to use in therapy sessions and as a DIY recommendation for project for parents and caregivers, emphasizing the positive impact on child development through sensory play and exploration.

How to make a Christmas Light Tunnel

(Or a Light Tunnel from a cardboard box…)

I made this light tunnel for Baby Girl’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star party. Babies love crawling through tunnels, playing in boxes.  When I saw this, I knew my kids would love it in so many ways.  

We used this light tunnel for the party, but have had it in our living room ever since the party and have used it in so many play activities.  

All you need for this project is:

  • A large cardboard box (or several boxes)
  • Christmas lights
  • A Screwdriver or pencil
  • Duct tape (optional)

To make the Christmas Light Tunnel:

  1. Use a screwdriver or pencil to poke holes into one side of a cardboard box. This side will be the top of the sensory tunnel, so think about which way you’ll want to position the box.
  2. Poke each individual light of the Christmas light strands through the holes and into the box.

If you are creating a tunnel and have a second box, you can cut off the ends of the box to create a tunnel. then, use the duct tape to attach the boxes.

Carboard box with Christmas lights poking through the box
I started with two boxes and stuck them together by cutting a hole in one.  I wanted two entrances since we have so many little little kids in our family.
 It would be fun for them to crawl in one entrance and out the other.  One box was a double stroller box that my sister-in-law had at her house. The big box, I grabbed up at an appliance store (before they crushed it down, apparently this happens fast when they unload appliances…the boxes go right into the compactor).


I stabbed the boxes with a screwdriver and stuck the Christmas lights in.  Pretty easy!   


This is what the Christmas light tunnel looks like from the outside.
Since the party, we have been using this as a calm down place to chill out with some pillows, blankets, and great books.


Today, I pulled out our bin of corn.  The Big kids thought this was a really fun idea.  They were so excited to put the corn in the light box.  
This is a great regulation station for home or for therapy.






Doesn’t this look like so much fun???


 We played with dinosaurs, cars, and construction vehicles in the corn. 








Clean up was easy, just tilt the box to pour the corn back into the container.  I think we’ll be doing this again 😉


For more ideas on incorporating sensory input into the everyday, check out our resource, The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook.

The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory processing information, each step of creating a meaningful and motivating sensory diet, that is guided by the individual’s personal interests and preferences.

The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is not just about creating a sensory diet to meet sensory processing needs. This handbook is your key to creating an active and thriving lifestyle based on a deep understanding of sensory processing.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

5 thoughts on “Christmas Light Tunnel”

  1. The corn is from an animal feed store. It came in a 50 pound bag, but smaller amounts may be available. We used some of the corn to feed turkeys and squirrels in our yard. The corn is field corn, so it is larger than regular popping corn. You could also do beans, rice, or split peas, all of which can be purchased pretty inexpensively in bulk. Thank you both for your kind comments!!

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Christmas light tunnel is a sensory tunnel made with a cardboard box and lights