12 Days of Christmas: Scavenger Hunts and More Family Fun!

On Christmas night, Michael James (6) was crying at bedtime because Christmas was over. Poor thing – 25 days of build up counting down on the Advent calendar, 4 weeks of waiting as we lit the advent candles on our wreath, SO much anticipation, and just like that the day had come and gone. Daddy reminded him that Christmas Day might be over, but the 12 Days of Christmas were just getting started. (The 12 days leading up to Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day, Jan. 6th. Traditionally, a time of “merry-making”!) And we would be able to pack in lots more fun and make much more merry  before heading back to school on Jan. 7th.

Since then, we have had many post-Christmas adventures! On the 2nd day of Christmas, we enjoyed the sunny Dallas day at Klyde Warren Park with friends, trying out the “ice skating”. (Tip: skip the synthetic skating if you go, and pack your own lunch to save money instead of spending a fortune at the food trucks.) On the 3rd day of Christmas, we enjoyed more of the beautiful weather at the Dallas Arboretum. (My teenage sitter played with the kids in the awesome Children’s Garden while I enjoyed a quiet walk by myself through the gardens – how luxurious!) That evening,  we went as a family to see “Frozen” (FABULOUS!). And on the 4th day of Christmas, we had a family gift exchange with my parents and brother’s family (at which MJ received a new scooter!), Ellie got to test out her new roller skates from Santa at the rink, and we went on a horse-drawn carriage ride to enjoy the lights in Highland Park. So the fun and games and merriment definitely continue!

Whenever I read/ sing the book “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to kids, I always comment on how many birds are given to the poor “true love”! What in the world is she gonna do with 23 birds??? (Check my work…..Sing through it with your family, and make it a math problem.)I say, “PLEASE don’t give Mrs. Manders 7 swans-a-swimming! I have NO POND in my yard! You can give me 5 golden rings or even bring me 12 drummers drumming, but PLEASE don’t deliver 6 geese-a-laying!

XRF 12days.jpg

Urban legend has it that when the carol was first published around 1780, it was composed as an “underground catechism song” for persecuted catholics in Protestant England, with a hidden meaning for the people of the church:

* The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

* Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments

* Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

* The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

* The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

* The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

* Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit – Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

* The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

* Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit-Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

* The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

* The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

* The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

 Certainly an interesting theory, though unconfirmed. Either way, it’s a fun song to sing and a fun tradition to celebrate with your family. If you live in Dallas, you can even sing along as you ride or stroll along through the “12 Days of Christmas” display in Lake Highlands.


We like to do it in pj’s!

My parents often hide images of the “12 Days of Christmas” for Christmas party guests to hunt for around their home  – hiding in picture frames, on the Christmas tree, in the nativity, on the fridge, even in the bathroom! (You can find lots of printable pics here.)

Plan your own scavenger hunt for these symbols around the house. Or make up a list for a trip to the mall, the park, downtown, a walk around the neighborhood….The Arboretum has a scavenger hunt for the angel display in the DeGolyer House that is free with admission until Dec. 31st.

My parents did something creative with the kids that I wanted to pass along to your families. They took them riding on the Dart Train just for fun, and turned it into a fun game with a scavenger hunt list. Apparently, they checked everything off but a helicopter…here is the list they created:

  • A bird on the ground other than a pigeon.
  • A decorated outdoor Christmas tree
  • A person carrying a wrapped Christmas gift
  • Person wearing clothing specific to Christmas
  • Antlers
  • A picture of a hamburger or sandwich
  •  Someone younger than 4
  • A person using a cane or crutches
  • A wreath
  • A person carrying another person
  • Someone on a skateboard or scooter
  • An airplane
  • An real animal that is not a bird, dog, or cat.
  • A bicycle at a train stop or on a train.
  • A helicopter (real or picture)
  •  A person with a suitcase

More ideas: Find 12 old toys or pieces of clothing in your home to donate to the needy. Think of 12 good deeds to do in the spirit of the season. Make it a meaningful, merry 12 Days of Christmas!

(By the way, our favorite version of the song to listen to is by John Denver and the Muppets, of course! see the video of them singing!)