Holiday

I Went On a Holiday Scavenger Hunt And Found The Seasonal Spirit In My Neighborhood

by Desirée O

Life can definitely get busy around the holidays. Between shopping for presents, decorating the tree, baking treats, attending parties, and keeping up with normal day-to-day responsibilities, not to mention showing up for work, it can be all too easy to forget to take a few moments to enjoy the merry season.

With that in mind, I wanted to find an activity that I could do with my family that would give us an opportunity to spend some time together. Bonus points for anything that would get us out of the house, and if it was holiday-themed, then I’d be beyond thrilled.

I started to scan the internet for some inspiration and came across a holiday scavenger hunt created by Lauren on her Talk of the Trains blog. She had gotten the idea from a challenge created by the Dating Divas.

Both used their own lists as well as their own guidelines for the hunt, and both seemed to have a heck of a lot of fun. I was sold on the idea!

I was also well aware of the fact that there are at least two families in my neighborhood who go all out when it comes to decorating — we’re talking about giant inflatables, nearly every festive pop culture character you can think of, and even a Santa hanging from the roof (yes, of course I snapped a pic of that one). I hadn’t been by their houses to check out what additions they’d made to their displays this year, but I had no doubt that they would have a few of the items we’d be looking for during our scavenger hunt.

However, it turned out that my printer was out of ink (arg!), so I couldn’t print out either list I had found. So I decided to make my very own list for a fun-filled scavenger hunt that my family could enjoy together.

Although this would be a perfect activity for Christmas Eve and would be just as fun at night when all the lights are lit up, I wanted to try our scavenger hunt right away and thought we might be able to spot a few more items while the sun was still up.

Eager to get going, I jotted down some decorations I thought we might be able to find and told my family about the idea. They were just as excited as I was, so off we went!

The List

  • Santa
  • Elf
  • Nutcracker
  • Wreath
  • Candy canes
  • Sled or sleigh
  • Ornaments
  • Christmas tree
  • Snowman
  • Presents
  • Reindeer
  • Penguin or polar bear
  • Star
  • Merry Christmas or North Pole sign

Santa

Santa
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Despite being an evasive character on Christmas Eve, Santa was rather easy to find during our scavenger hunt. Frankly, he was everywhere. We found small retro plastic Santas and large modern electronic Santas. We spotted a Santa who was busy in his workshop and a Santa on a swing with Mrs. Claus by his side. But, by far, my favorite Santa in the neighborhood is the one who seems to have slipped off the roof of this house and is holding on for dear life.

Elf

Elf
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Elves were also relatively easy to find and even popped up in the picture of Santa above. But I was rather fond of the quirky classic elf who appears to be waving his arms and has a slight smile on his little face. And while his hat is undeniably adorable, his striped socks and bell-edged collar really top off his whole look.

Nutcracker

Nutcracker
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Finding a Nutcracker was a little harder than spotting Santa or his elves. But on one home’s front lawn — that appears to include one of every holiday decoration ever made — we found a noble-looking soldier shining in the sun, looking just like a traditional nutcracker, although it’s nearly as tall as I am.

Wreath

Wreath
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Although plenty of my neighbors have lovely wreaths that span a range of styles, none can really compare to the GIANT wreath one family has hung just down the street from my house. It may be hard to get a sense of just how big it is in the picture, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s at least 2 feet across, and the bow makes it look even bigger.

Candy Canes

Candy Canes
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Candy canes were surprisingly a lot harder to find than I had anticipated. When I had been creating my scavenger hunt list, I assumed that because these highly recognizable holiday treats are such a common symbol of the season, we’d see them everywhere. That wasn’t the case at all. Other than one giant all-white one that was sort of in the background of one home’s display, this little light-filled row of candy canes were the only ones that we spotted.

Sled or Sleigh

Sled or Sleigh
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Finding a sled was also a little harder than I had predicted. While I already mentioned that there were plenty of Santas around, we found only one cruising in his sleigh. He also happens to be taking a trip on a train if you take a look in the background.

Ornaments

Ornaments
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Right across the street from my house, I spotted large ornaments hanging from my neighbor’s gorgeous tree. These include a blue ornament with intricate golden designs that glitter when the sun is shining and a red ornament with bright white stripes. But my favorite is the blue and gold ornament shaped like a giant pine cone.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree
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A few homes have Christmas trees on their lawns, but most are very modern white versions that are either stylish spirals or classic cones. While they are each stunning in their own way, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this little traditional green tree with a gold star on top.

Snowman

Snowman
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Snowmen are another popular choice for seasonal decor, so it wasn’t hard to find one. But because there were so many, it actually became a fun secondary game to decide which ones we liked the best. The massive inflatable ones are definitely popular this year, and we also saw plenty of smaller Frosty-like characters hanging around. However, my favorite is this jolly fellow who is boasting a plaid scarf and snazzy top hat. And if you look behind him, there are three other smaller snowmen, one on top of the other.

Presents

Presents
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We were pleasantly pleased when we spotted this tiny tower of presents. The adorably wrapped gifts glittered in the sun, and I can only imagine they would look even cuter against a background of snow (unfortunately, all the snow that had fallen in our neighborhood melted a few days earlier).

Reindeer

Reindeer
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While we had already spotted a few reindeer along with Santa’s sleigh (above), I was pretty darn impressed by this full-sized creature standing tall in front of one house. With a bow around his neck and antlers that nearly doubles its size, it’s hard to miss this stunning stag.

Penguin or Polar Bear

Penguin or Polar Bear
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I was hoping to find a few other animal decorations on our scavenger hunt, so I’d added penguins and polar bears to the list. However, I thought it would be too hard to spot them both, so I made the goal to find one or the other. To my surprise, we found both penguins AND polar bears.

Star

Star
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We spotted a few stars along the way that were additions to other decorations, like the one at the top of the Christmas tree, but I was hoping to spot one or two on their own. Near the end of our scavenger hunt, I was starting to think this might be the one item that eluded us. However, just around the corner, we found a home that had strung a full line of star lights along their front window.

Merry Christmas or North Pole Sign

Merry Christmas or North Pole Sign
Desirée O for LittleThings

I was also hoping to track down a few jolly signs but wasn’t sure if I should opt for a Merry Christmas message or a post for the North Pole (something I thought we could spot along with a Santa or some elves). So again I made the aim of the scavenger hunt to find one or the other. And again, we were thrilled to find both. Not only did we spot an adorable garage door decoration that includes a scene of the North Pole, complete with a post, we also found a sign wishing us (and now you) a Merry Christmas! Happy holidays, friends!