In our search for ways to celebrate a fun but materialism-free Christmas, we knew we had to get creative. So for more than 20 years, we have chosen to limit our kids' Christmas gifts to three—a book, a game, and a toy. Sprinkled in are also stocking stuffers, sibling gifts, and a small wacky joke gift from an "illustrious" personality (actually another family member signing a phony autograph). The books and games are under the tree, but the toy is wrapped and hiding somewhere in the house, yard, garage, or car. They can only be recovered via The Christmas Hunt.
Here's how it works. Starting from the youngest to the oldest (we switch the order every year), the kids start to hunt—one at a time—for this last gift by following clues designed by my husband. (For non-readers, use pictures to identify the places to check.) A magazine picture of a stove leads to the next clue: a drawing of a wall hanging in the family room, and so on.
For older children and teens, clues can include written puzzles to solve, cryptic verses to decipher, symbolic Bible verses, as well as e-mail and voice mail messages. Five or six clues later, the wrapped gift is found and saved till everyone else has located his gifts.
The truly fun (and crazy) part of the hunt is that the whole family trails each hunter till the gift is spotted. For us, that means six people running together from room to room. Once all the gifts have been found, we return to the living room in fits of laughter and tear open these final gifts.
Over the years the "toy" has turned into a special gift such as a phone, cd player, travel gift certificate, or cool shoes, but the process has stayed the same. It is one of our family's favorite traditions!
Copyright © 2002 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian Parenting Today magazine.
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Winter 2002, Vol. 15, No. 2, Page 10