How Does the Trap Work?
1. The Christmas tree is home base.
2. Parents set up a trap-a series of obstacles-from the kid’s room to the tree.
3. If the kids can reach tree unnoticed and unheard, Christmas can commence!
4. If not…it’s back to bed, until the parents are ready to begin the day (maybe even waiting until after breakfast!)
5. No one can open presents until the parents are awake.
6. The trap must be possible and should be age appropriate. An impossible trap will only discourage the kids. And an easy trap for older kids won't be memorable. The goal is to have fun, build confidence, and encourage creativity.
After 50 years, we have learned a thing or two about executing a successful trap. Consider these suggestions and adapt this tradition as necessary. We'd love to hear how you made it work! Check us out on Instagram and Facebook and share your story. #christmastrap or email us comments and photos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Planning Your Trap
- It’s a busy time of year, and you can throw a trap together last minute (that’s how the first trap came to be). But we recommend you spend some time preparing. If one parent isn't into the shopping aspect of Christmas, we think they'll love the trap planning and building part of Christmas.
- A successful trap includes a few obstacles. We recommend 4 to 5.In the Obstacles section, we offer a variety of trap ideas of varying difficulty and complexity.
- Traps can range from easy and playful, to clue based scavenger hunts, to impressive engineering feats. It really all comes down to you, and what you want to put your escapees through. My brother once had to dive to the bottom of a swimming pool to retrieve a key - It was balmy Arizona (not recommended for white Christmas climates).
- After a few years, be aware of the things experienced escapees will do to outsmart you and the trap. This really becomes a parents vs kids battle of wit and skill.
Setting the Trap
- This can be a noisy process; spreading grocery sacks, accidentally tipping your cup tower, or building something with with a hammer or drill (yes there can be very complex traps).
- If you are worried about keeping your children up, consider the placement of your traps so the noisier elements are further from their door. Or setting those up first before they are really asleep.
- Depending on your home, you may need to adjust where the little ones sleep. Some experienced trappers put all kids in the same room for the night so they can start the trap together.
- Consider a room with a bathroom.
Wake Up Time
- Those with eager children may need to establish a wake up time. This may depend on how long you think it will take your escapees to traverse the course. Our typical trap as preteens took 2-3 hours! Yes, it took that long, but with 6 siblings to get through the obstacles and our vigilance to avoid making noises, we were painfully careful and slow.
- Leaving the room before the assigned wake up time, or trying to hide elsewhere in the house and getting caught will lead to forfeiture and an automatic win for the parents.
- You may also choose to establish a bed time or a time they must all be sequestered in their room.
The First Year
- For older escapees, it may be helpful to provide them a few tools to help them get through the trap. Mirror to see around corners, a flashlight, and scissors are a few suggestions. After a few years, your escapees will know to start gathering useful supplies to sleep with.
- The young escapees (under 5) may need a bit of coaching if they don’t have older siblings. At that age, it’s more about the fun experience than about stealth and sneakiness.
- Best to keep animals in a safe place!