But first things first! I promised I would show you how to arrange a Christmas Eve treasure hunt.
My sisters and brother and I made treasure hunts for one another frequently when we were kids. We didn't have any decent prizes--it was the hunt that mattered--but I turned my the old childhood game to good account by turning it into a Christmas Eve tradition maintained until the kids grew up, and no doubt they're passing it along to their children as well, because it was jolly fun!
All you need is a prize of some sort (my kids grooved on I Spy! books, for instance. A good family game is another idea, or new pajamas...) . Cut yourself lots of little squares of paper, and grab a pencil.
Step 1: Make up scads of clues. At least a dozen, but please don't be skimpy! The more the merrier. To do this, I recommend you wander through your house with pencil and paper in hand while the kids are outside, or at least are busy with something and not paying attention to what you are doing.
Let me show you what I mean.
Say I'm moseying along in the kitchen and notice the table lamp. I figure it's easy enough to sketch and it offers various places for hiding clues. So I quickly sketch a miniature image to represent this.
Yeah, I know it looks ghastly. Like I say, you don't have to know how to draw! In fact, it makes the hunt all the more challenging, trying to figure out what on earth the picture is supposed to represent.
Those resin swallows on the wall look easy enough to draw... (Hah!)
Then, on the vanity shelf, I spot a vintage Avon tin of talcum powder. I ought to be able to do a semi-reasonable drawing of that.
Don't you feel better about your own artistic skills about now?
And while I'm in the bathroom, I decide to draw the poodle toilet roll cozy.
And the roly-poly Santa is another tried-and-true spot for hiding a clue, so I sketch him, too.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Now this is the basic version of the game; if your kids are older, you can get quite creative with substituting riddles for picture clues and so on. But anyway, let's say you have 15 little paper drawings ready. Now it's time to hide the clues, which is a little bit confusing but you'll soon get the hang of it if you stay focused.
To set up the actual hunt you'll be working backward. So choose one of the clue slips as your final hiding place and stash your treasure there. Let's say I have bags of little chocolate coins for my treasure. I think the knitting caddy would be ideal to hide them in. So I put the candy inside, take the slip of paper with the drawing of the caddy on it, and decide where to hide that. Look at your other slips and choose one. Doesn't matter which one. But choose one, and go directly to that object. I'll pretend I chose the lamp So I go to the lamp, slip the clue with the picture of the caddy underneath it, or tape it to the side, or whatever. Now I would find the clue slip with the picture of the lamp on it and prepare to hide that clue. Inside Santa, say. So I dash over to the Santa, pop the picture of the lamp inside, find the Santa picture, and go to hide that. Is this making any sense? You do this until you have one clue slip left over, and that is the starting clue for the hunt. If you're not sure you're doing it right, go back and retrace your steps, working forward this time. If you've done it right, it will work.
When it's time to start the hunt, you hand the kids the leftover slip of paper and let them have at it! You can help them with hints if they're having trouble. And you may have to referee if older kids are hogging all the fun and leaving the younger ones in the dust. Make them take turns trying to figure it out if they can't work cooperatively.
Give it a try--I think your kids will enjoy it and ask you to do it again next Christmas, too. After all, in the end, it's the doing that gets remembered more than the presents. Here's a link to an older post about fun traditions, if you need more ideas:
Wishing you the Lord's bright blessing this Christmas!
* For those of you not in the Portland, Oregon area, tune to allclassical.org to stream the music! It's a free service.