Do you absolutely love the holidays as much as I do? I am such a holiday lover that in the past, I’ve actually created some of my own. That being said, I recall the days when the kids were a lot younger, in love with holidays too, and were bouncing off the walls with energy and excitement. They still bounce, but it is self directed mania and they don’t require a ton of supervision and refereeing. Back in the day this was not the case. In order to combat this little problem I started a tradition that not only did the kiddos love, but still beg for it in their teen and tween years. You may have seen it listed on my post from earlier in the week. Folks, let me introduce you to the holiday scavenger hunt.
Think back to your days as a youth. Who didn’t love a good scavenger hunt? You had to think, explore, work together, problem solve…all these great developmental tasks that just seemed like fun at the time. Plus, if it’s complex enough, it keeps participants busy and engaged for quite some time. Bingo! So one Thanksgiving, when I was wishing for some time with the adults without one of us constantly having to tend to the kiddos, I created a search that the oldest could definitely manage, and the youngest could happily follow in tow.
Generally, I think of twelve to fifteen clues and type them up. After reading the little posse their first clue I hand it over and they’re off, running throughout all different rooms of the house trying to figure out the riddle. If they are successful, they will find another clue hidden at the location they were directed to, and so on. It’s super fun to make the clues rhyme, but then, I’m just a geek like that. If I want to get really feisty I even have them search in places outside the house, in the back yard. The goal is to have them at it for at least a half an hour. My brother does it on Christmas Eve and one year he made clues that all related to the ’86 Mets. Needless to say our little elementary schoolers were wandering the house for about an hour. Thank God they had my nephew with them, because he was able to solve a bunch.
Now here’s the kicker. There’s a prize at the end. Over the years, I learned to make the reward something that would further require their attention for at least another hour. Lego sets, arts and crafts, Perler beads…you get what I’m saying? Not only have they been engaged in the search for quite a bit, but they then continue to be involved with their new task of building or creating. Everyone is in a good mood because they just had a ton of fun and have a new little treat to boot. And the parents? We couldn’t be happier. We just bought ourselves almost two hours worth our own independent fun. It’s a double win!
If you are dreading the amount of hands on overseeing you may have to do this upcoming holiday, consider the scavenger hunt. You may even want to have the clues lead them to whatever gifts they were supposed to be opening anyway. Make them work for their stash! I might possibly even make one for the adults next year. It would be worth it just to hear my dad cursing at me while he tries to figure out the riddles…ahh the holidays. So get thinking on those clues and give yourself the gift of festive relaxation.