Your preschool and elementary aged school kids are going to love chasing cookies around your house in a gingerbread man hunt! Writing clues and getting a cookie scavenger hunt set up can be daunting. In this post, I’ll give you everything you need (free printable clues, tips to set it up, and even recipe suggestions) to make a gingerbread cookie hunt an easy tradition to implement and enjoy with your family!
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Setting up a Gingerbread Man Hunt:
There’s a little prep work you can do to make setting up a gingerbread man hunt a little easier, but if you want to do the cookie hunt immediately – you can do totally do it (I never prepare in advance!) Here’s a list of things you can do in advance:
Choose a Cookie Recipe:
I know that traditionally these hunts involve gingerbread cookies… but gingerbread cookies have never been a favorite in our house. Besides, if I make gingerbread cookies then I feel obligated to make frosting and find things to decorate them. In all honesty my kids just want to go on a scavenger hunt, chasing cookies all over the house. (At this point, they couldn’t care less about decorating cookies!)
So I’ve found that I can make any kind of cookie, cool the dough the in the fridge or freezer until it firms up a bit, and then help my kids mold the dough (like playdough) into the shape of a gingerbread man. This saves me from having to roll out dough, get out the cookie cutters and take on the big mess that goes along with frosting cookies.
(The free printable gingerbread scavenger hunt file for the clues can be found at the bottom of this post).
I typically print my clues on plain white printer paper, but if I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll get out cardstock. I recommend cutting them out before you need them and making sure you know exactly where to hide them. I’ve included a page with blank clue cards, in case you need or want to write a few of your own.
I usually hide the clues in my pocket while we are making cookies, so I can hide them quickly when the time comes.
Additionally I would recommend having a second baking sheet handy, similar to the one you are baking the cookies on. That way, when your kids’ cookies are one baking, you can put an empty baking sheet in the oven and quickly hide the hot cookies out of sight.
Prepare Your Kids
Depending on the age of your kids, they may or may not know the story of the Gingerbread Man. You have a few options here.
you could either read them the book (buy it or get it at the library). We have the Catch That Cookie book, which is cute book about Marshall, an elementary aged boy whose class makes gingerbread men and then chases them around their school. There’s also more traditional versions of the story available, like this one.
Another option would be to let them watch the short cartoon movie of it, either on Youtube or Amazon Prime. There’s a pretty well known cartoon of this story that’s roughly 10 minutes long.
Tips for Having a Fun Gingerbread Man Scavenger Hunt:
Make sure you have a rough plan in place, because once your kids’ cookies are in the oven, the clock will start ticking. If you have an Elf on the Shelf, I have used the excuse that the “elf” needs to use his Christmas Magic to bring the cookies to life and in order to this, we can’t watch.
I will then take them to fold laundry (does it ever end?), play with their Playmobil toys, or listen to an audiobook. During this time, I have to make excuses to leave them (I have to change the clothes in the washer, I forgot something downstairs, I have to run to the bathroom, etc.) I have to make a pretty significant number of excuses because during this time, you need to be hiding clues and checking the cookies. When the cookies are done, I quickly swap the pan of cookies with the empty pan an then set the hot pan of cookies on a hot pad on top of my China hutch.
Then I have a timer go off (a few minutes after the cookies came out of the oven) and love seeing their delight when they see the oven is empty! It is the purest joy! I then love watching them hunt for clues. My little guys can’t read well enough to read the clues yet, so they bring me the clues and I read them. As the clues start to get to higher numbers, you have to start making a plan to get the cookies under the tree. Since I don’t know the layout of your home, I unfortunately can’t help much here.
So sneak the cookies under the tree and then enjoy their amazement when they find them.
Printable Gingerbread Scavenger Hunt File:
Here is the file for the free printable gingerbread scavenger hunt. If you have any questions, please reach out.
If you enjoyed this scavenger hunt, be sure you check out my Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt! In February, you kids can chase Cupid around the house instead of a gingerbread cookie!
I wish you a wonderful holiday season with your kids.