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How to Plan a Christmas Scavenger Hunt

We’ve outlined all of the steps you should need to plan a festive Christmas scavenger hunt for family and friends.

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Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year. The weather is cooler, we get our fix of warm hot chocolate, and nights can be spent snuggling by the fireplace. But the weather isn’t the highlight of wintertime. The holiday season always means it’s time for some family and friendly fun! How would you like to bond with your favorite people while solving challenges on a special Christmas scavenger hunt? We’ve made the entire process easy for you. With our guide, you’ll be able to plan an entire holiday scavenger hunt, from clues to rewards. Who knows? You might even make this a new family tradition!

Plan a Scavenger Hunt this Holiday Season

If you’re on the lookout for an effortless holiday outing, look no further than our epic scavenger hunts. These hunts are sure to be loved by everyone—younger, older, and in-between. You’ll be able to explore the best wintery landmarks in your city or a nearby town as you take part in photo and video challenges and compete for bragging rights. And you won’t even need to sweat the details! We have a connection or two at the North Pole and we’ve got it covered.

Tips for Hosting a Christmas Scavenger Hunt

Choose a convenient day and time.

The most important step of organizing a Christmas scavenger hunt is to get the timing right. Pick a date and time that is suitable for everyone attending. Be sure to work it around travel schedules. Host it before the holidays get really crazy, or make it part of your Christmas Eve festivities. If you’re planning the activity for your immediate family, you might even want to make it a part of Christmas morning, after opening gifts from Santa, of course! Have the kiddos hunt for some special surprises.

While it’s perfectly fine to keep the finer details of your hunt a secret, you might benefit from informing your family and friends that you plan on holding a Christmas season hunt. This will help them plan their holiday around the event. Your hunt might range from a couple of hours to an entire day, depending on how big you want to go. It is essential to be mindful of your family’s time, and keep them posted beforehand.

Be winter-ready.

If you’re in an area with major seasonal fluctuations, ‘tis the season to be cold!

A Christmas scavenger hunt almost guarantees chilly weather, be it a breezy evening in Florida or a snowy day in New York. Make sure your participants are prepared to face any inclement weather. If you want to head outdoors for the hunt, pack a jacket, earmuffs, and gloves so that you can stay warm.

In fact, you can give each participant hunt-themed gloves or hats. If you’re competing in teams, each team can have its own color! Or make a reindeer team, a snowman team, a team of elves, etc. This will add an extra element, and your family will have something to take home after a memorable hunt.

You can also get your family complimentary hot chocolate coupons so you’ll have something warm to gush over. The options are endless!

Choose a theme.

This is the ideal time of year for a themed scavenger hunt. Themes can help turn your treasure hunt into a full-fledged fun Christmas game! Here are 8 of our top hunt ideas to make your event truly festive and memorable!

  1. Holiday Photo Hunt: Print out your favorite photos and hide them around the house, with clues written on the back. This will be a charming trip down memory lane as participants hunt for new clues and makes new memories.
  2. Search for Lights: If your neighborhood is twinkling with Christmas lights, incorporate the displays into your hunt or use them as clues along the way from stop to stop!
  3. Cookie Hunt: Make each challenge cookie-related, like decorating sugar cookies with holiday motifs or cutting shapes of elves, gifts, reindeer, and candy canes! The grand finale can involve gingerbread!
  4. Elf Hunt: We love this hunt—Each participant must find specific elf decorations around the neighborhood and city. At the end of the hour, the team that finds the most elves wins!
  5. Ornament Hunt: This indoor DIY hunt is a great way to decorate the Christmas tree together. Write a clue for each ornament and put the printable Christmas scavenger hunt clues in a box. Take each clue out and guess which ornament it denotes!
  6. Caroling Hunt: Write clues based on popular Christmas carols and Christmas songs. Solve and answer each clue by singing the carol. For example, the first clue could be a riddle about bells and hunters will have to sing “Jingle Bells” to move on. You’ll be in the holiday spirit in no time!
  7. Stocking Stuffer Hunt: This hunt is easy to pull off. Hide clues inside stockings around the house. Make sure you leave some blank cards in stockings as decoys. When a participant finds the right clue, they move on to the next round! If you hide some small Christmas gifts in with the clues—finders keepers! 

Keep extra supplies handy.

Whatever the type of hunt, it’s wise to keep some extra supplies ready. This can range from extra copies of clues, stationery, or a few extra winter garments to keep guests warm. You never know when you might need an extra blanket or a pair of scissors.

If your hunt is outdoors, make sure to carry these supplies in a designated car. This way, the participants will be able to call the designated driver in case of any emergencies. For an indoor hunt, keep a stash of paper, glue, an extra deck of clues, and other craft supplies.

Consider using a scavenger hunt app.

Still with us? If this is sounding like a lot, it’s because it is! Planning an entire scavenger hunt by yourself can be quite the task, especially with the holiday season keeping you preoccupied. You could try to find a free printable Christmas scavenger hunt, but a search like that can be time-consuming. If time’s getting away from you or event organizing is not your thing, you can opt to use a specialized service (like!) or a scavenger hunt app. It will make things much easier.

With Let’s Roam’s scavenger hunt app, you’ll be able to host a smooth, hassle-free event at the touch of a button. Since our hunts are in more than 400 cities across the globe, you’ll be able to organize and coordinate a seamless event. Each team needs only one mobile device with a voucher to log in and access the clues and challenges.

Since the hunt is completely app-led, participants will be able to pause and resume and hunt at will. You can stop the activity at any time for a hot cocoa break! In addition, the live leaderboard lets you monitor scores in real-time, so you can keep track of points for bragging rights.

If you want something a little more specific, like incorporating a special holiday tradition or Christmas trivia that pertains to your group, contact our expert guides. We’ll hook you up!

Make a detailed list of rules and guidelines.

Before you embark on your family Christmas scavenger hunt, jot down what’s allowed and what isn’t. You don’t have to be a Grinch, but rules make scavenger hunts run smoothly. For instance, are participants allowed to Google answers on their cell phones, or should they rely on the ole’ noodle? Is skipping a clue allowed? How many hints does each team get?

Distribute copies to your attendees so that they’ll be able to reference them at any time during the event. Depending on how critical the rules are, you might want to add a point penalty when someone breaks a rule.

Decide how teams will “win.”

What type of scavenger hunt do you want to have? In case you opt for a time-bound hunt, the winner will be decided by who reaches the final destination first. If your hunt is outdoors, make sure it is safe for the participants to run and race against time, especially if it is cold and slippery outside.

You might also opt to have a task-based hunt. For instance, if you have five hidden clues in each location, the team that finds the most clues wins. You can also crown the winner based on the most creative team of the lot. In case you have many photo and video challenges, the most creative video wins the prize!

Make a list of things your teams will look for.

Before you write down the clues for each round, decide what the prize will be. Here, you can go crazy and opt for holiday-themed goodies, or go old school. The choice is yours!

For outdoor hunts, look for popular landmarks and city-based trivia. If you want a pre-made city-based hunt, Let’s Roam’s outdoor Christmas scavenger hunts will take you around the most popular landmarks of the city, with photo ops and trivia at every turn.

For indoor hunts, you can hide clues in decorated envelopes. Show off some origami and crafting skills as you fold the handcrafted paper into shapes like wreaths and mistletoe. The more unique and colorful your clues, the more entertaining the event will be.

Create tricky but age-appropriate clues.

This is one of the most important steps of planning your hunt. Who is your hunt supposed to cater to—little children? Tweens? Adult friends? Your clues and questions must be age-appropriate. If kids are involved, family-friendly is the way to go. With adults, you can use more complex clues and include some libations!

If your scavenger hunters are of mixed ages, you can mark clues specifically designed for younger children. Label them “For Kids Only” or place those clues in different colored envelopes. That will appeal to little ones, who will be even more excited to spot specials clues just for them. It will give the adults some time to catch their breath too!

Personalize your questions.

The best way to make your hunt memorable is to personalize and customize your clues and questions. Load up your clues with inside jokes, references, family trivia, and other customized clues. You can include birthdays, anniversaries, graduation stories, prom date trivia, and many more.

The more personalized the questions, the more your family will love the clues. This is a great way to keep the entire group engaged. If you can, try to keep this a surprise. Spotting familiar names and clues will be a holiday treat for the fam!

Prepare holiday food!

The best way to your family’s heart is through their tummies!

Keep everyone’s energy by providing holiday treats. In fact, you can make this a part of the hunt too. This works well for indoor hunts. For instance, one of the tasks for the hunt can be decorating sugar cookies or completing a gingerbread house kit.

This is a Christmas activity that both kids and adults will enjoy alike. For an adults-only game, you can try an eggnog chugging contest or a pie-eating competition. The more, the merrier!

Place your clues.

Hide clues in strategic spots—in and around Christmas decorations, for starters. For example, you can hide your clues inside Christmas stockings, near the fireplace, inside Christmas ornaments, or even under pies.

For some more holiday fun, wrap your clues with Christmas-themed wrapping paper. Your family (especially the kids) will love unwrapping clues and finding new clues inside.

Make use of Christmas landmarks.

If you’re leaning towards an outdoor hunt, make the best of Christmas landmarks. Use your neighbors’ Christmas lights and decorations as landmarks. You can also head over to your nearest mall to gape at their Christmas trees and find a clue nearby.

Make the most of the outdoors by incorporating snow and other winter staples in your games. One of the tasks can be building snowmen or making snow angels. The entire family is certain to have an amazing time!

Decorate a tree.

What’s Christmas without a spectacular Christmas tree? Incorporate this into your scavenger hunt by making this one of your tasks. Here are a couple of ways you can do this.

One of the tasks of the scavenger hunt must be making an ornament for the tree using craft supplies. Participants can use paper to fold it into different shapes, or glue a string to a ball and hang it on the tree. They get their next clue only after hanging the ornament on the tree.

Another way to go about it is by hiding an ornament inside the house. Your family must hunt for the ornament and race against time to hang it on the tree. The first team to hang the ornament gets a bonus clue in addition to the usual clue.

Make the end goal worth it!

The holidays are a time of family and giving. To get your family all excited and amped up for the Christmas scavenger hunt game and holiday party, make sure the final prize is worth it. You don’t have to shell a lot of money for this (unless you want to, of course!).  

Make sure the winner of your hunt gets something special. This can be as simple as bragging rights or a prime spot in the holiday photo with the whole family. They can also get special holiday PJs or a handmade crown!

Closing Thoughts on Christmas Scavenger Hunts

Hopefully, with those Christmas scavenger hunt ideas in mind, you’ll be able to delight your loved ones with a fantastic event. Many of these suggestions can easily be incorporated into an online hunt for a virtual Christmas party for family and friends.

If you prefer, invite your gang to a hunt created by us! Each event—indoor or out—is packed with excitement! If you opt for a virtual scavenger hunt, you can purchase a multi-home party pack to share your indoor hunt with friends and family around the world. They’ll be able to compete with you online! You don’t have to let distance get in the way of holiday fun this year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a Christmas scavenger hunt work?

Planning a Christmas scavenger hunt is easy. Plan ahead, make a list of clues and prompts, and hide them in strategic locations around the house or your city. You’re all set to go!

What do you need for a Christmas scavenger hunt?

When hosting a Christmas scavenger hunt, you’ll need to come up with clues pointing participants to each location. You may also want to offer rewards if you’re not just competing for bragging rights.

What’s the easiest way to host a Christmas scavenger hunt?

Using a scavenger hunt app gives you all the tools you need to create an unforgettable scavenger hunt. Once you sign up, you can personalize your indoor or outdoor hunt in no time!

What are some fun games to play at virtual holiday parties?

Host a virtual scavenger hunt! You could also try this list of 25 virtual holiday party ideas. It includes Christmas Charades, some interesting twists on Christmas movie night, and more.

Can I plan an indoor Christmas scavenger hunt?

Yes, absolutely. With Let’s Roam’s indoor scavenger hunt option, you can turn your home into a scavenger hunt hub. Turn simple craft supplies and furniture into props for a hilarious family-friendly hunt!

How can I start a fun new Christmas tradition?

Find an activity that’s enjoyable for people of all ages, give it a try, and see if it sticks. Consider a Christmas scavenger hunt. It can be done year after year, but no two events are ever alike!

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