Our Christmas Lights Scavenger hunt was born out of a desire for special holiday memories without additional expense. Years ago when my kids were little, I wanted to create some extra Christmas magic, but we didn’t have the funds for a lot of “extra.”
Things like ice skating rinks, mind-blowing presents, or even tickets to special holiday shows and events were just out-of-budget for us.
About all we could afford to do was drive around and look at Christmas lights. And I mean driving the neighborhoods, not the drive-through displays that you have to pay to get in.
Still, I wanted it to feel special. How could I make a nearly free activity feel extra magical and fun?
I used to love looking at lights when I was little. We would sing carols, laugh at the houses with crazy lights, and ooh-and-ahh at the houses with impressive displays.
After we had been driving around for a while, we’d drive out to the country to see my grandma’s house. Then, on the way home, we would look up at the stars and “look for Rudolph” in the sky. Every radio tower with a blinking red light became a possible reindeer team pulling Santa’s sleigh.
Imagining, playing, laughing together as a family. That was the magic.
So I set out to make our Christmas lights tour just as fun.
The Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt
That was when I sat down and made our first Christmas lights scavenger hunt. I opened up a word document on my computer and typed out a list of things you might see in people’s yards as you drive around.
Some things were easy, like a star. Some had to be a little rare! It’s so much more fun to drive hunting for that one house with all blue lights.
We loaded up the kiddos in the minivan in their pajamas with blankets and little clipboards and crayons to check off their lists.
I wasn’t quite sure, would this be fun or a miserable disaster? After all, it’s dark in the car. Someone was bound to drop their crayon. The little one can’t even really read. Would she feel left out? Would the older kids get too competitive and turn it into a fight?
I’ll be honest, over the years, all those things have nearly wrecked our holiday fun, but with the right attitude, you can overcome that.
It’s so important as the mom to lead the emotional tone. As long as you are positive and having fun with it, you can overcome just about any challenge.
Cheap & Magical Holiday Traditions
Now, the Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt is one of our favorite holiday traditions, right up there with decorating the tree and opening our 3 Wise Men inspired gifts.
Early in December, my husband and I pull out our calendars and start writing in all that we have going on this month. It’s a busy season!
Usually around the 18-20th, we pencil in an evening to look at lights. It’s got to be a little later in the month so everyone has time to put their lights up.
On that night, we have a simple dinner at home then clear the table and I whip up my special Christmas cocoa in travel mugs for everyone.
We use these reusable travel mugs for all six of us, but if you’re worried about spilling, you might try some like these. If you prefer disposable, try these. Although this year, we used our Disney Resort mugs too!
We used to play our Christmas CDs, but lately we’ve been using Amazon Music to stream our holiday tunes.
Since we’re all in this together, and you have to shout out when you see the things on the list, there’s really no winners and losers, but somehow, no one seems to notice. We are too caught up in the fun!
Free Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt List
If you’d like to download our scavenger hunt list and print it out for your own family to use, just click the graphic below.
I’ve put together a typical one as well as an easy one for younger kiddos.
Printable Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt
Printable EASY Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt
With iPads and YouTube and everything else our kids have to entertain them these days, it’s easy to think that only flashy, exciting intensely awesome activities will make them happy.
But I’ve found that those over-hyped sort of things are kind of like candy, they may be thrilling, but they don’t last long.
Simple, heart-felt moments of togetherness as a family are the activities that fill up their hearts and satisfy them like a cream-gravy topped chicken fried steak.
All it takes is a little intention, a little focus.
This simple scavenger hunt acts as a bridge between the rush of regular days and the quiet moments that make Christmastime magical.
Slow down. Look at the lights. Laugh with your kids. Drink some hot cocoa and snuggle.
Enjoy these days.