Thursday, December 1, 2011

treasure-hunt paper-chain advent calendar


December 1st has rolled around yet again and that means countdown time! This year, I wanted something easy but fun – and I’m a bit obsessed with paper chains at the moment so I thought I’d combine that cutting-off-of-the-link to countdown the days with a good-old fashioned treasure hunt. I have great memories of our Christmases growing up where mum and dad always made our last present - the main one – extra special. One year there was a treasure hunt with clues hidden throughout the house, another year we were each given the end of a coloured string and told to follow it – it wound all through the house until finally the other end was wrapped around the gift. So much fun. I try and do the same, but this year brought it forward and extended the fun with a treasure hunt advent calendar.

FYI: the papers are Love Mae confetti (triangles) and Clouds (blue and white); a wallpaper sample and Laikonik (brown and white)

The trickiest part about this was coming up with 24 riddles. Clues just aren’t fun if they don’t rhyme! But about four clues in I remembered how bad I am at poetry and debated stopping. And I did stop – at 17. My riddles were bad enough when I was fresh, so by 1am they were getting even dodgier. I figure I have 17 more days to come up with the next one! And I have no doubt it will be another gem like this one…


“Today is day four. 
Is that a knock I hear at the door? 
Have a look and you might see, 
a little something below your knee.”

or this…
“Today is day six.
You could say it’s St Nicks’.
He’s anything but a brute,
So be sure to put our your boot.”

or this…

“Day 14 has now come.
Ideas she is out of, your mum.
But if you are able, under a table,
Is a surprise I think you’ll find fun.”

Hand me the Nobel Prize in Literature – I’m on fire… Not exactly clues, but hey – they’re only little! And the first one was a hit tonight! They’re already psyched about tomorrow’s one so I guess I can make an early call that this is a success, crap riddles and all!


Layla won the coin toss to snip away first. Zak is keen to flip the coin each night too…

And on the stairs? Wagon Wheels! Yeah! Just what they needed after a birthday party, cake and lolly bag today!!!!

And don’t you love it when you think you’ve come up with an original idea and then you do the big test to see if it’s been done before – the Pinterest search. And there it is: in a similar vein. Grr! Oh well, there’s no such thing as an original idea is there?

I was debating trying to make one of these feather wreaths, but caved and bought the West Elm one! I bought it when shipping was half price, but the actual wreath is on sale right now!

At the end of these “hunts” is something different – sometimes a edible treat (today they had Wagon Wheels); sometimes something to play with (bouncy ball); something they keep bugging me about wanting (mini torches). And on Christmas Eve, they’ll find a Christmassy book which we’ll all read together. Fun!
Do you count down to the big day? What kind of advent calendar do you do?

{All images Belinda Graham for The Happy Home}
14 Responses to “treasure-hunt paper-chain advent calendar”
  1. KL says:
    Yes, this idea has a variation in my house in Australia. We’ve been visited by ‘the christmas beetles’ for every advent night for the last 22 years! My eldest daughter was terrified of the big buzzing beetles that seem to be around only during the christmas season. She also had lots of questions re ‘how does Santa know I’ve been naughty or nice’ so advent and those beetles came together to be
    a. spies ensuring good behaviour,
    b. messengers to the real Santa about the wish list; catch, whisper and release… no fear
    c. bringers of the day’s treasure hunt letter that unfolds exactlty like yours!
    My youngest is 9 and a boy; still a true believer. I cannot imagine a year without this magic but I know my days are numbered…Enjoying this year more so ’cause it could be my last till grandchildren arrive to start it over….
    x KL
  2. Marnie says:
    Great idea with the chain rhymes/treasure hunt. I just actually made my advent calender today too.. Nothing like leaving it to the last minute.. Same as you, was trying to find something easy and not too time consuming… so ended up buying some noodle boxes, got the kids to paint/decorate them… My 2 year old decided to decorate my curtains/carpet when I wasn’t looking aghghg… then hung them all on a large branch in a vase.. Mind you, I’m looking forward to getting to the middle of December as the branch is looking rather full… I was thinking about you today and all your crafts and trying to do them with three kids under your feet. I had a huge craft day today… trying to get my house just right for Christmas.. and doing it with 2 kids under 4 is hard enough… I painted a seat outside, re-upholstered (if you can say that) two directors chairs, emptied out two moroccan pouf’s of all their beans… not very enjoyable with two kids around… especially when I keep telling them not to grab any of the beans… sewed up the holes and then stuffed them full of old clothes etc.. I found 3 of them on the side of the road this week for the rubbish collection and couldn’t believe my eyes, they’re leather ones too.. They just needed a few holes sewen up :) Thought you would enjoy my find as none of my friends seem to understand :)
  3. So much fun, Belinda! I love the idea of the treasure hunt. We are doing this advent activity this year-
    We did the first craft this morning and it was a hit! ;)
  4. Stephie says:
    I did some West Elm half price shipping shopping too! Great post – thanks for sharing, Stephie x
  5. Such a great idea! I can’t wait until my little guy is old enough to really get into the Christmas stuff. Right now, he’s just interested in taking the ornaments off of the tree and throwing them. :-)
  6. Kate says:
    Great idea!
    Our advent calendar is a length of twine strung up under the breakfast bar with 24 ornaments pegged ready to be placed on the tree.
    I’m seeing plenty of really sweet and creative ideas this year.
  7. [...] 3: Fun advent chain from The Happy Home blog. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); [...]
  8. Sophie says:
    What an awesome idea! We did both a paper chain AND a little treasure box advent “calendar” this year, but I love the idea of combining the two! Pinning this so I remember for next year :)
  9. [...] treasure-hunt paper-chain advent calendar « the happy home You could say it’s St Nicks’. He’s anything but a brute, “Today is day six. [...]
  10. Jaye says:
    I love your paper chain calendar!! This year I’ve made my first ever advent calendar out of old kids story books and hand made envelopes … and I’m loving your riddles because that’s the thing I’ve been stuck on! I’ve decided to fill mine with little inspirational quotes and images :)
  11. Grace says:
    It’s really a fabulous idea!!!Can’t wait to try!!!!I love ur idea, it looks fun!
  12. Val says:
    Hi Belinda,
    I landed here from A Beautiful Mess. Really inspired by your creativity — this is unfussy and organic and joyful. Thanks for sharing! We tried a branch last year with ornaments, but as my 9 year old son pointed out, “it’s nicer in white with lights, Mom. Let’s do it!”
    I totally agree.
    Merry Christmas!
  13. Brilliant idea. If you are struggling with your clues or riddles then please feel free to use some from here:
    Keep up the good work!
  14. …well, your idea may not be original but it is authentic to you (being of your own imagining, rather than inspired by others), and it certainly is one of the prettiest I’ve seen. I’ll be remembering it for next year now. I went for a more classic paper pockets pegged on rows of trim for mine this year (you can see pictures on my blog)… It’s getting really close now :)

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