Every year, we experience the same Christmas get together, and it can get pretty boring. Sure the food’s great and the conversations might be interesting, but don’t you just wish you could have a little more fun on this most special time of the year?
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It’s the season for fun, cheer, and family and friends! So break out the games and the riddles because it’s time to get festive with an eventful and productive holiday celebration. If you were hoping to add a touch of exciting activity to this year’s Christmas celebration, then try out these tips to planning the perfect Christmas scavenger hunt for kids and adults.
What You’ll Need?
The things you need to prepare really depend on the kind of scavenger hunt you plan to have. In general, you will want to decorate your space as festive as possible so that you can include a wider variety of items in your list. Plus, the more decor you have in and around your space, the harder it’ll be for your players to find specific items.
For the most part, you will need:
- Printed lists of specific items for your players to look for
- Prepared spaces where players can produce certain items on the list
- Cameras if you’re planning to use the photo scavenger hunt format
What’s a Photo Scavenger Hunt?
A photo scavenger hunt is a great way to limit your use of resources, especially if you’re planning to include a few items that aren’t easy to obtain or carry around. Instead of having your players retrieve and collect items around your space, they only need to take photos with their cameras.
How to Get Started?
If you’re ready to start your scavenger hunt, you need to set the ground rules and make sure everyone is on the same page. Follow these simple steps to get started on your scavenger hunt.
- Divide your guests into groups. For younger players, it might be best to have smaller groups of 3 to 4 members each to make sure that each one is able to enjoy the game and participate in their team’s process. If you’re planning a Christmas scavenger hunt for adults, then bigger groups can be ideal.
- Hand out the list of items that your players need to find. Make sure you discuss items that need to be collected as opposed to special entries that need to be created.
- If you’re going with a photo scavenger hunt format, then make sure your players register their devices. This just prevents anyone from trying any tricks and cheats. Only photos that are taken with registered devices will be qualified as entries for the hunt.
- Each team can have around 2 to 4 registered cameras.
- For items that need to be recreated, teams are not allowed to take photos of creations completed by other teams. For instance, if you have an item that requires that teams take a photo with a snowman they built, other teams are not allowed to take their picture with a snowman created by other teams. This helps make sure that all players exert the same effort into completing their lists.
- Instruct your players where they need to go once they complete their list of items. The first team to arrive at the collection station at the end of their hunt will stand the chance to be crowned the winner.
- The entire team needs to be present when the collected items are presented! If any members are missing, then the team will have to wait for them to arrive before they can have their items counted and qualified.
- The first team to return to the collection station with complete and correct items will be declared the winner.
Christmas Scavenger Hunt Riddles
So, what should you include in your list? The best way to make a scavenger hunt more of a challenge would be to use riddles that your players can decode to figure out what they need to collect or take pictures of.
Here are some Christmas scavenger hunt riddles that you can try for your gathering:
- Stuffed and stocked with lots of treats, you hang me over the mantle piece. But if naughty you’ve been all year long, a lump of coal inside me belongs. Christmas stocking
- Is Santa on his way tonight? Make sure you’re all prepared. A soft lamp light, all kids asleep, and a tray of this for Santa to eat. Cookies
- Different colors all around, the twinkling abounds. But there’s one special light on this evening, that means the most with its lofty gleaming. Christmas tree star
- As the winter comes to its peak, we find our refuge ‘neath cozy blankets. But the scene inside isn’t quite unique. For outdoors, a similar sheet of white sets. Snow
- Ornate, colorful, festive – I’m the centerpiece in all homes! Why, Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without me standing tall in your abode. Christmas tree
- I’m ninth in the series, but the most popular, too. I was once left out of games, but now I’m the first to light the view. Rudolf
- Stepping outside in the cold, cold snow, it’s easy to become a shivering wreck. Save yourself the sniffles and make sure to wrap me round your neck. Scarf
- When there isn’t any snow, it’s really hard for me to go. But with thickening frost across the ground, there I go at the speed of sound. Sled
- I brought good news to an unexpectant mother. This was my task, and none other. Angel
- Hardworking and diligent, we’ve got no holiday breaks. We work alongside old Saint Nick, and all that we make, he takes. Elves
- A strange sight to behold, not one you always see. A mother, a father, three kings, all cramped together with a baby. Manger scene
- Big and round, with a carrot and coal, push me over, and I’ll start to roll. Snowman
- Shiny and metallic, you’ll find me everywhere these holidays. I’m not exactly jewelry, unless you use your nose to light the way. Bells
- Happy and cheerful, you know me by name. You see me and think, ‘I’m getting presents today!’ But don’t be too quick – not all gifts will be had. It all depends on whether you’ve been good or bad. Santa Claus
- Add some cream, some sugar, and some spices to boot. If you’d like, add some spirit to make things a hoot. But please don’t forget, the main ingredient, I beg. The reason for my namesake – a couple of whipped eggs. Eggnog
- People always wonder how Santa can fit me. I’m not really wide, my hole is quite tiny. Well, I can’t explain either, he just makes it so. After all if he didn’t, then your presents would go. Chimney
- Lots of lights brighten homes when this season starts to swell. Lots of colors, lots of shapes, adorn and decorate every home well. But there’s a special light, humble and quiet with its simple glow. Not the kind to flick a switch, these lights need no more than a blow. Candle
- Granny’s got an achy back? Well give her a tool to help her walk. But don’t look at me, cut me some slack. I’m way too sweet to with my red and white stalk. Candy cane
- Gather round, it’s time to feast! Set out before us is a wondrous feat. The chairs are ready, the food it set. Here’s a gathering you won’t regret. Christmas dinner table
What’s fun about scavenger hunts is that they don’t always have to follow the same format. Lots of people have found clever ways to make scavenger hunts more fun and exciting, adding in other challenging aspects to make them more interesting for players. If you want to add a little variety to your game, consider trying these interesting tweaks.
Players Make It!
Some would say that having your players collect or take pictures of items in your play area might be a little too easy. So it might add a bit of a challenge if they were to make the entries in their lists themselves. How exactly can you make that happen? Consider these suggestions:
- Do you wanna build a snowman? For this scavenger hunt challenge, give your players instructions on a specific snowman design that they need to reconstruct themselves. You can either provide them the items they need, or they can hunt around the area to find the pieces for their snowman.
Here are some instruction that you can try to apply:
Build a snowman at least 5 feet in height
2He must have: buttons for eyes, an ice cream cone for a nose, and two arms made of wood
3Dress him up so that he looks like he’s going to work
4Take a picture next to your snowman to prove his height!
- The Nativity. We’ve all seen the manger scene before – a bunch of animals, three kings, Mary and Joseph, and of course, the new born Jesus in his manger. It’s pretty easy to recreate from memory, so to add a touch of fun to your scavenger hunt, you can ask your players to recreate the scene.
Recreate the nativity scene with all of your team members in the shot!
One person to represent each character, and all the others to take the place of animals or other elements in the scene – like the angel or the star!
Make sure that all members are in the shot.
Bonus points for teams who go the extra mile with costumes!
- Make Your Own Sugar Cookies. Sugar cookies can be loads of fun to make, and the process can be fairly straightforward. So to leverage that fact, you can set out a sugar cookie making station where players attempt to recreate a cookie that’s already been decorated.
Recreate the cookie set out in front of you with the tools and colors available.
Make sure it’s as accurate as possible!
You should have three decorated cookies to bring to the finish line to be declared the winner!
Deciding on a Winner
A scavenger hunt can take around an hour or more to complete, depending on the extent of the hunt that you’ve prepared for your players. But your focus really shouldn’t be on limiting their time, but on encouraging teams to complete the challenge as fast as possible.
- Designate an area where your players will proceed once they collect all the items on the list.
- If you’ve prepared a traditional scavenger hunt, they should be able to present all the items the collected throughout the game.
- If you’ve prepared a photo scavenger hunt, then they should have completed the list by taking photos of all the items in the list.
Inspect all of the items in the list and compare them with the items retrieved by your players. If they were able to collect everything without making any mistakes, and if they were the first ones to return, then they’re crowned the winner. But if they made a few mistakes, then you have to wait for the next team to return.
If the second team returns and all of their items are correct, then they are announced the winner despite not returning first. However, if they also made mistakes, then it comes down to the number of errors that the teams made. The winner will be the team or player with the fewest errors.
It can be a load of fun to host a Christmas scavenger hunt, but it will take quite a bit of preparation. Nonetheless, it will be a memorable experience for your guests, well worth their effort and yours. So take your time and prepare a fun hunt for your family and friends using these fun and clever tips. Make sure your next Christmas is different and add to the festive feel with a fun Christmas scavenger hunt of your own design.
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.