My Favorite Christmas Morning Tradition, and 30 “Big Gift” Ideas

gift ideas for the tough people on your list

My family has a tradition to do one “big gift” that’s opened last on Christmas morning. Check out this really fun idea to make that big gift even more fun and special!


My very favorite Christmas morning tradition

Growing up, my parents loved finishing Christmas morning with a “big gift.”

Something exciting, fun, and special.

Sometimes it was a gift for the entire family, like a trip to Disneyland, or a family cruise. Other times it was a gift for just the kids, like bikes for everyone, or American Girl dolls for me and my sisters.

And sometimes it was an individual gift, like the one year I got a guitar from my parents. Or a family photo my dad had blown up and framed for my mom.

A scavenger hunt to find this “big gift” makes it extra fun!

The thing that always made these big gifts so special was how they were presented. We almost always had some kind of scavenger hunt to find the gift.

Scavenger hunts to find the big gift is fun for two reasons:

  1. The gift is not under the Christmas tree, so the gift receiver is completely surprised.
  2. The anticipation, decoding the scavenger hunt clues, and searching for the gift is almost more fun than the actual gift!

Some examples of my favorite scavenger hunts on Christmas morning

After Philip and I got married, we started it in our family. I gave him a BBQ grill one year and his hunt led us to his grandpa’s house where it was waiting for him.

One year my dad set up a string scavenger hunt, all around our house, into the backyard, and then across the street to the neighbor’s house where new bikes were waiting for us! We opened an envelope that had a piece of string tied to it, and it said, “follow the string.” Since the string was white, we didn’t notice it until we opened the envelope!

On our fifth anniversary, Philip bought me a diamond ring and sent me all over his parents house with various clues to eventually find the ring.

When my little sister was 8 or 9, her last gift under the tree was a book about how to care for a kitty. Then it said, “go look in the garage,” where she found a brand new kitty! She about died of happiness.

Now that the boys are older and able to follow clues, we’ve started doing it with them too! Two years ago we hid their big LEGO sets and gave them riddles to solve to find the hidden LEGO sets.

Here’s how to set up a scavenger hunt for your Christmas morning

If you want to do a scavenger hunt this year, it’s super simple! Don’t overthink it — just hide the gift, then just put together a few clues that lead around the house. Like one in the pantry, one in mom’s sock drawer, one in the dog food, etc.

Start the hunt with an envelope with their name on it, and inside the card is the first clue. You could do a clue like the kitty care book, or riddles they have to solve to find the next location, or a puzzle that they have to put together that says the gift on the back, or a string that leads them somewhere…the most important part is to have fun!


A few ideas for “Big Gifts” you could give this year


  1. A TRIP TO DISNEYLAND or DISNEY WORLD. We are surprising our kids with a trip to Disneyland this year, and their final gift on Christmas morning will be some Mickey Mouse sweatshirts!
  2. LASER TAG SET. I love this idea and I’m totally storing this away for the future when my boys will obsess over this.
  3. CAMPING GEAR. Sleeping bags and a tent would be so fun to give, and then start planning your next camping trip.
  4. A FAMILY TRIP. You could give plane tickets, new suitcases, a disposable camera for each kid, or some other fun way to announce your big destination.
  5. TICKETS TO A SHOW. You could do a concert, a broadway production, a comedy show, or some other fun show for the entire family!
  6. DIRT BIKES or GO KARTS. For the outdoorsy kind of family, this would be a great idea. Have them set up in the garage, or in the driveway so you can get dressed and go ride them on Christmas day!
  7. SKIS. Another great idea — you could also do a ski pass gift!
  8. A HOT TUB for the backyard! Perfect for winter — the whole family will want to jump right in.
  9. SEASON TICKETS to a local sports team. Great for the family that loves a local team!


  1. A TRAMPOLINE. This was a really popular idea. Get it all set up in your backyard and send them on a scavenger hunt to go out there. Or if you have big windows facing to the backyard, cover them in wrapping paper and have them tear it down when it’s time!
  2. A PING PONG or FOOSBALL TABLE. This would be another fun one to have set up and ready to play. Put some big bows on the ping pong paddles!
  3. STEP2 EXTREME ROLLER COASTER. These are so fun for little kids!
  4. NUGGET COUCH. I’d never heard of these, but they’re so cool! My boys would love building them in different shapes to create a fort or a boat or a slide!
  5. A NEW PET! I love the idea of giving them a book about caring for the pet to clue them in.
  6. A TEEPEE for the playroom! There are so many cute ones RIGHT HERE.
  7. INDOOR JUMP HOUSE. My kids would die of happiness.
  8. SEASON PASSES to a nearby ZOO/MUSEUM/AMUSEMENT PARK.  I love this idea!
  9. NINTENDO SWITCH. This one is fun for the whole family!
  10. SCOOTERS or BIKES. Our favorite scooters are MICRO SCOOTERS.
  11. BACKYARD PLAYGROUND/SWINGSET or TREE HOUSE. I would have died and gone to heaven if one of these was my Christmas present when I was a kid.



  1. A DOLLHOUSE. There are so many cute ones out there, but I especially love THIS ONE.
  2. BIG LEGO SET. This is a very obvious choice for my kids.
  3. AMERICAN GIRL DOLLS. My sisters and I got these one year for Christmas and we played with them every day for like 8 years. Target also has the knock off OUR GENERATION DOLLS for a fraction of the price!
  4. KEYBOARD PIANO. This would be a really fun one for someone learning to play!
  5. A DRUM SET or another musical instrument.
  6. AIR PODS. This is a great one for teenagers!
  7. A BEDROOM MAKEOVER. This is a great idea for tweens and teens who need a bedroom refresh!
  8. A NICE PAIR OF BOOTS. Perfect, practical winter gift. Snow boots, Ugg boots, or Hunter boots would be perfect.
  9. NICE CAMERA. Such a good gift for a child who’s into photography or a kid graduating soon and heading off to college.
  10. GOLF CLUBS. This will be us one day — my husband loves golf, and my boys are just starting to get into it!
  11. APPLE WATCH. This would be a great one for a tween or teenager!


I would love to hear if you have any other good “big gift” ideas, or if you’ve done special “reveals” or scavenger hunts for your big family gifts. Tell me in the comments!

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