A personalised Christmas

It’s been a lean Christmas in the Peake household, we’ve all got very little money. As I can’t really afford to get the presents I’d like to for my family, I decided to personalise things for Christmas Day itself. It went spectacularly well!

Firstly, I stuffed my own crackers from a cracker making kit. I put very random things inside the crackers including bouncy balls, chocolate, bubble blowing solution and a bouncing spinning top. It’s surprisingly difficult to get interesting objects that fit within a Christmas cracker. Now I know why all crackers tend to have the same set of gifts inside. However, I was able to put my own jokes in. These included:

Who should you call to protect your farm? The Hay Team.
Have you heard about the glow in the dark encyclopedia? It’s volume-inous!
Why was Clifford the big red dog in jail? He was caught red hounded.
What is a vinegar loving dwarf’s favourite musical instrument? A piccolo.
What do mermaids use when wrapping Christmas presents? Shellotape.
What do you get if you cross a reindeer with the ocean? A rudolphin.

They went down… well, about as well as any Christmas cracker jokes did. I was pleased, at any rate.

The real highlight of the day was a surprise treasure hunt around the downstairs of my house that no-one knew about. It took about a day to plan and write the clues, and I hid all the clues just before midnight on Christmas Day (so I didn’t see Santa, naturally).  It was quite a treasure trail – an extra cracker was mysteriously laid out after Christmas dinner. Upon opening the cracker, the 30 minute time limit immediately started (as controlled by me on my PC). They were presented with a lock with a clue inside, but no key. Along with the lock was the following clue:

In these dark and gloomy days,
we really need some light.
Find seven sources made of ‘wax’
that don’t require a ‘light’.

Pretty quickly, they figured out that meant a candelabra of seven electric candles. When they looked behind it, they found:

If Tom Jones put some clothes on,
you could describe him thus.
Remove the middle of the three
to continue all this fuss.

It took a while to poke them towards working out that Tom Jones putting his clothes on could be a Welsh Dresser – and indeed the clue was behind the middle of the three drawers in the dresser, Of course, I made it so they had to take the entire drawer out to see the clue, didn’t I? Naughty Daniel. They then found this:

I reckon that the next clue
is one you’d need to find.
To discover your next CLUE,
see where it’s well defined.

Where is the word CLUE well defined? In a dictionary, of course. They found that one quite quickly – there was about 24 minutes left on the clock. This is what faced them next:

After all the tasty turkey,
basted, cooked and greased,
you’ll kick yourselves when you find
a clue beneath your feast.

Within 60 seconds, they’d found the clue on the underneath of the table where we’d sat and eaten Christmas Dinner. Oh dear, did I make the time limit too long? There was still 23 minutes left! Luckily, the second half of the treasure hunt was more difficult than the first…

There is a thing about gazpacho
likely you have observed.
Find a recipe for the soup
on a place like it is served.

The family quite rightly latched onto the word “served”, and so the looked in and under all the things in which it could be served – tureens, plates, bowls, jugs, saucepans – the entire kitchen was turned inside out! But no clue. I had to prod them “LIKE it is served”, and “why gazpacho?”. Then they started to twig, gazpacho is served cold. A place “like it is served” is a cold place – a fridge! So, how to find a recipe? One of the fridge magnets is a “Tomato Cookbook”, which has recipes in it. One recipe is, you guessed it, for gazpacho soup. So the clue was within that fridge magnet, next to that recipe. That stumped them! Haha! There was about 15 minutes left on the clock, when they found the clue:

In this time of Christmas cheer,
what should we dance to?
___  ____’_  ____  _  ____  _____
Number 52.

Quick as a flash, they realised they needed to be looking for the CD of Now That’s What I Call Music #52 – but there were six draws and one CD rack through which they had to search to find it! Still, a very quick two minutes later, they found the clue. 13 minutes on the clock, and they were 3/4 through the hunt. However, this is where I was quite sneaky:

Now that you’re all dancing,
perhaps you’re “cutting” this.
Lift it up, look underneath,
and spot something amiss.

To ‘cut a rug’ means to dance, and we only have one rug. So did I place the clue underneath there? When I nodded that I had, they looked at me in astonishment. Why? The only rug we have is in the lounge and has two sofas and a very large coffee table underneath, three heavy items which they would have to move to get to the clue, which I had put under the middle of the rug! Very naughty Daniel. It took them ages to move the furniture and roll the rug up but there was the clue, slightly dusty, in the middle of the room. The family couldn’t believe I’d done that! So, then they had this, with seven minutes to go:

You’ve got this far, you’ve done so well,
you’re certainly perplexed.
You now have all that you require.
Be bold to find what’s next.

They quickly realised the bold letters all over the place spelt out the message. It was an entire clue! Written out in full, it was:

In order to undo the lock,
you need to find the key.
Take a look and poke around
deep inside the tree.

I can tell you, it was very very difficult to hide that clue in order amongst the other eight clues. The clue has plenty of unusual letters, four K’s, a few U’s and so on. But I’m very pleased with myself that I was able to do it. They decoded the message with ease… until they came to “inside the tree” where they consistently missed the R in tree. They started looking for a “tee”. I helped them out there – they realised their mistake and with three minutes to go they found the key within our Christmas tree. This allowed them to undo the lock and access their final clue:

Well done! You’ve found the key.
It’s time to cast your eyes
to find yourself and look beyond
to discover your prize.

This was going to be close. After reading out the clue, they had about 2 minutes left to find this “prize”. They realised quite quickly that to find yourself you look in a mirror. We have three mirrors downstairs, but they quite rightly focused on the largest one (more than three times the size of the next mirror). But they mistranslated “look beyond” as look in the mirror, see what you can see in the reflection, and go and look there. This took them to the already quite untidy kitchen. The time ran down very quickly, and as this was the last clue and time was tight, I wasn’t going to help them. Time ticked down… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… TIME UP. Sadly they hadn’t found the prize. I then told them think about the clue again, how could they “look beyond”? Then the penny dropped – they needed to look BEHIND the mirror. As soon as they did that, a bar of chocolate fell out from behind the mirror, which would have been their prize. Well, it still was I guess, as I shared a bit of it with them.

They had come SO CLOSE to finding the treasure. They got through 9 out of the 10 clues in the 30 minutes, and had thoroughly rearranged the lounge, downstairs bedroom and kitchen in the process. They did have a fantastic time however. Unwisely, I left the chocolate I hadn’t eaten downstairs on Christmas Day. I came downstairs on Boxing Day to find it was no longer there, instead a note replaced it, which said “When you find your chocolate, it will light up your day”. Took me five minutes or so, but I finally found the chocolate in a box of tissues which had touch activated fairly lights built in. I deserved that, I suppose.

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