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Operation Christmas Sparkle

Call me “Scrooge”, but (for me at least) Christmas just isn’t the same as it used to be. I long for the excitement I once felt as a child - enthusiastically bouncing my way through the festive period with the traditions my parents had installed when I was a kid.

Has Christmas Lost Its Sparkle?

I blame technology and increasingly busy lives. But this Christmas I’m going to be less “Bah Humbug” and more "Ho Ho Ho"! I'm going to make an effort to bring in some fantastic activities to do with my family, both in the build-up to and on the big day itself.

Yes, it’s a great excuse to overeat, relax and wind down, but I also think Christmas is the perfect excuse to be a BIG KID; your kids will love you for it, and you’ll love yourself for it!

So, here’s what I’m doing this Christmas to rekindle the magic that I’ve lost!

Just like Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”, I’ve re-visited my Christmas Past (thankfully no ghosts were involved) to try and bring back some of the magic that I’ve lost somewhere over the past 30 years.

I’m not quite there, so I would love to hear your ideas on festive traditions you have – please comment below and we will post these for all to see – and the best couple of suggestions, I’ll make sure we do over Christmas!

Commencing Operation Christmas Sparkle! 

Operation Christmas Sparkle Idea 1!

Dress up! Don’t be a Scrooge, get a festive outfit. Stupid Christmas Jumpers are all the rage, but why not be original and create your own Christmas day outfit. This year I am going to decorate my PJs with paper-clipped on tinsel, and bring out the flashing Christmas Hat.

Operation Christmas Sparkle Idea 2!

Make some decorations with the kids. It's time to embrace the glitter and get creative. Don't worry if you make a mess, it's part of the fun!

Here’s some inspiration from Pinterest 

Operation Christmas Sparkle Idea 3!

Play silly games which get everyone off their bottoms.

My flamboyant Aunt used to make us play this game which I loved. It was a bit like pass the parcel, with multiple layers of wrapping paper and packaging, but with a difference! I can't recall what the prize was, it was only something silly, but it's the game I really remember.

All generations watched as we each took turns with a pair of really thick ski gloves on and a pair of blunt scissors, trying to snip our way through 10 layers of heavily sellotaped and wrapped boxes. You only had 30 seconds each and the rules were that you could only take one layer off at a time!

Still not sure what I mean? Watch this video I found on YouTube to give you more of an idea!

Operation Christmas Sparkle Idea 4!

Hide presents – we set an awesome I-Spy treasure hunt game a few years ago for our Trailers – it can be set around your own home really easily and makes finding the presents so much fun (my wife told me that year that the treasure hunt was more fun than the present – not sure what that says about my presents!).

You can download the game here!

Operation Christmas Sparkle Idea 5!

Go to a panto, and take the whole family. I still fondly remember my half blind gramps shouting “he’s behind you” when we all went to the panto one year as a kid. I am sure he couldn’t see what on earth was going on, but he absolutely loved it and it got three generations together having fun.

My advice – go local – all respect to the actors, but you often get the unplanned comical events happening!! This was always a good post-Christmas activity for us as well, as it gave us kids something to look forward to.

Did you know that here at Treasure Trails we put together our own Panto a few years ago? OH NO YOU DIDN’T! Oh Yes, we did – and here’s the proof:

Operation Christmas Sparkle Idea 6!

Dance to Christmas songs – and do it dad style. Don’t just leave the kids to it – do it, and do it proper. You could even do a Strictly come Christmas Dancing Special in your own lounge!

Operation Christmas Sparkle Idea 7!

Do something nuts!

This year, I am going to do my local Boxing Day swim in my trunks. Yes, people actually do this!

Don’t live by the sea? Why not go for a Boxing Day walk in your Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip flops?

Operation Christmas Sparkle Idea 8!

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t suggest doing a Treasure Trail would it! The perfect post-Christmas activity to get everyone out of the house.

This year we are doing the Porthcurno Treasure Hunt themed Trail and have decided we will all be dressing up as pirates for the Trail!

What’s more, we are going to communicate using our Pirate names – if you would like to know what yours is then have a look at this Pirate Name Generator.

Hopefully you’ll join me in bringing back some of the sparkle this Christmas!

So rather than remembering the escapades of Paddington and Moz the Monster from the M&S and John Lewis adverts (other department stores are available, may I add!) you’ll remember all the great things you did with your family. And, with any luck, your kids may start to look forward to the festive traditions of your family Christmas more than all the presents they’ll be getting for Christmases to come!

Please let us know your Christmas Traditions (simply comment below), and make sure you’re not alone on this mission, as like Santa himself I have my own little helpers in the form of my “Christmas Mad” wife Lucy (they say opposites attract) and my ever-energetic children Max and Emily.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Max, Sam, Lucy & Emily


  • My family play a ‘snatch’ raffle. We have 3 raffle prizes, one of which is wrapped making it a mystery prize. Each family member is given 5 raffle tickets, the matching numbers are folded in a suitable cgristmas container. The youngest player pulls out the first ticket and the person holding that number chooses a prize. That player then pulls the next ticket. The person holding that number can take one of the other 2 prizes or ‘snatch’ the prize already chosen by the previous winner. The new winner pulls out the next ticket and the holder of that number gets to choose any unclaimed prize or ‘snatch’ any already claimed prizes. This continues until all tickets have been drawn. Therefore those holding the prizes when the last ticket is drawn are the actual winners. The number of prizes can be increased if there is a large number of people present.

    • Thanks for sharing your Christmas tradition with me Carol. It sounds a lot of fun and I bet it get everyone very excited. I like the sound of the mystery prize, I don’t think I could resist it!

  • I used to feel exactly the same! But a few years my two best mates and I instigated a tradition where around the start of December we’d all go to Alwnick together. We’d go to the gardens and have hot chocs in the potting shed when it’s got dark and all the walkway is lit up with fairy lights. We’d visit Alnwick books and we’d exchange our gifts early and have a day of fun and walking and chatter and cuppas and this would be our start of the festive season. We’re doing it this Sunday coming and I can’t wait as then the festive season will really have got started for us.

  • Every year I hold a family party for all the generations between christmas and new year. The food is a simple buffet of post christmas leftovers, but the real fun is the evening stuffed full of treasure hunts, quizzes and games. Any leftover prizes and a few silly cheap items are then used in the final game. Two packs of cards are used. One is equally divided between the guests in a circle on the floor, with the prizes and second pack of cards in the centre. The host then takes a card from the oack in the middle and calls out what it is. The person who has the card in the corresponding pack then gets to pick a prize. This then continues until the pack is usd up. The fun really starts when all the prizes have gone as prizes can be requested from the ones won by other players. Sonething silly like a name place marker or imitation diamonds will always become the object of desire with them switching ‘owners’ at a fast pace. It is a lovely way to end a party and everyone usually has a gift or two to take home.

    • You sound like an amazing host Sheila, thanks for sharing your tradition with me! I love the sound of the game, who doesn’t love a silly gift! I bet it gets very competitive in your household. Have a great Christmas.

  • We ask each member of the family/guest to come prepared with a quiz of ten questions, plus answers of course. At some point we divide into teams and take it in turns reading out our questions. When we introduced the idea about eight years ago we were worried that some might find it a chore and/or worry about it. Not the case. It is now one of the highlights.

  • We play a Danish present game – you have a pile of presents (all random things from the £1 shop) all wrapped in the middle of the table. Take it in turns to try and throw a 6. If you do roll a 6 you get to take a present from the pile. Once all the presents have gone from the middle agree a time – normally 5 minutes for us and put a timer on. Now every time some rolls a 6 you take a present from someone else at the end of the timer whatever you are left with you keep! We always have a family quiz, a game and an activity. One year each team of 2 had to put together and decorate a gingerbread house – we then post all onto social media for friends to judge. We of course also arrange for all the family to do a driving treasure trail between Christmas and New year where we start each car off at ten min intervals – a selfie is sent when each team arrives at the final clue so we can check times.

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22nd November 2017

Posted In: Christmas, Ideas

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