The three were a lot of fun, and open to seeing more: I told them that we could go there directly, but if they had the time/inclination, we should make a few stops and see more on the way.
So, after meeting in Manhattan, we went first to DUMBO, and walked around there and then Brooklyn Heights. We took the subway to Brooklyn's Chinatown in Sunset Park, which was buzzing, as expected. We had an astoundingly inexpensive quick dinner at the estimable Yun Nan Flavour Garden.
Then a quick bus ride to Borough Park, home to Brooklyn's largest Orthodox/Hasidic Jewish population, which bustled, unfazed by Christmas Eve. Then a short subway ride to the edge of Dyker, and a walk to the first set of highlights. Then a quick bus ride, and a stop at the fantastic, frenetic but still open Tasty Pastry.
Then we walked through the heart of the Dyker lights, and it was mobbed, even without the regular bus tour groups. I and others had wondered: would any of the lights be off on Christmas Eve? Answer: I noticed two houses with major installations that were off, but that detracted only very slightly from the overall experience.
Interestingly enough, a large number of the visitors were Chinese (likely Buddhist?) and Muslim (women in headscarves; families could be Middle Eastern or Bangladeshi). That makes sense; more traditional Christmas celebrants would be in church or at home.
But it just goes to show how the Dyker Lights are a very ecumenical attraction. (OK, no Orthodox Jews in attendance.)
We caught a quick bus to Bay Ridge and took the subway back north. A very well-spent five hours!
For the record: four subway trips (plus two internal transfers), three bus rides, and some very good transit karma, with short waits for nearly all. But only four total fares, given free transfers.