The Kringle Caper was the first game published in the Holiday Hijinks series of holiday themed escape room style games. As I’m sure you can guess from the name, this one has a Christmas theme.
My entire family sat down to play this one during the holidays and we had a great time. Read on to find out why I think The Kringle Caper is a great way to spend some holiday time with your family.
Disclosure: Thank you to Marc from Grand Gamers Guild for dropping off a stack of these Holiday Hijinks games for us to check out. Grand Gamers Guild is now also a sponsor of The Tabletop Bellhop Gaming Podcast. Links in this post may be affiliate links. Using these costs you nothing but may earn us a small commission on eligible items.
What is The Kringle Caper?
The Kringle Caper was the first game in the Holiday Hijinks series of escape room games from Jonathan Chaffer and Grand Gamers Guild who first published this game back in 2020.
This small Escape-Room-in-a-Box style game is designed for one or more elves of any age, with a playtime of about an hour. It has a listed difficulty of 2 out of 3.
As expected from the name, this game features a North American Christmas theme and has you playing elves at the North Pole trying to solve the case of a missing cookie. This is all done through a set of eighteen double-sided cards and a browser based web app.
As this is an escape room game and we didn’t want to spoil anything I did not record an unboxing video for The Kringle Caper. Though there really isn’t a lot to show off for these games.
Like all Holiday Hijinks games, The Kringle Caper is just a small card pack with eighteen cards in it. The inside of the pack provides the instructions and a QR code that links to the required web app.
The component quality in The Kringle Caper is good, but nothing fancy. The card design works well and the information is clear and easy to read (except when making things difficult to read is part of the puzzle).
When playing The Kringle Caper you are going to want to have some scrap paper and something to write with. I also strongly suggest having a set of card sleeves and some wet-erase markers on hand. Some of the puzzles are going to be much easier to solve if you write on the cards, and putting them in sleeves first makes it so you can save the cards. That way you can gift this game to someone else when you are done.
How The Kringle Caper Is Played
Getting started in The Kringle Caper is super simple. You just unpack the cards and place the deck face down without looking at any of them. You load up the webpage and hit start on the game you are about to play. The Kringle Caper is easy to find, as it was the first of the Holiday Hijinks game so it’s right at the top of the page.
Hitting the start button brings up the introduction text, gives you a bit more information about the game, and starts the timer. It also instructs you to flip over the first card.
On this card, and on future ones you draw, you will find some form of puzzle to solve and one or more magnifying glass symbols. For each of these symbols, you will need to figure out an answer to enter on the web app. If you get it right, the app will continue the story and have you draw additional cards.
Some puzzles require more than one card, and most will require familiarity with North American Christmas traditions (the Santa-based ones, not the religious ones).
If you aren’t familiar with these traditions, or just can’t remember what gift was given on the ninth day of Christmas in the classic carol, the app includes a list of traditional holiday songs, writings, and poems to help you out. There’s also a progressive hint system if you get stuck.
You continue solving puzzles, entering answers and reading the story until you eventually find out who the culprit is.
At that point, you are given a final score and have the option to submit that score to Grand Gamers Guild where they will use it to help in the creation of future Holiday Hijinks games, tracking things like the average playtime, how many hints people are using, which hints they used, etc.
The Kringle Caper is a great holiday activity for families.
The Kringle Caper is the fifth game in the Holiday Hijinks series that we’ve tried out. Marc from Grand Gamers Guild handed me a bunch of them all at once, and we’ve been playing them as we get close to each holiday.
The reason I bring up those past reviews is that I can tell that The Kringle Caper was the first game in the series, as it’s extremely linear. You start at card one, which has a single puzzle on it. You solve that and it tells you to draw card two, which has a different puzzle on it, and when you solve that you draw card three. Eventually, some puzzles have you draw two cards, and some of the solutions need more than one card, but you are hand-held through the entire thing.
Unlike some of the later games in the series, you won’t find any branching paths or exploration in The Kringle Caper. You are also never presented with more than one puzzle at a time. It’s always one clue, one puzzle, and then move on to the next clue and the next puzzle.
I found this to be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I think this makes The Kringle Caper the most accessible Holiday Hijinks game for families, especially those with young kids, or for a family gathering with non-hobby gamers. On the other hand, it doesn’t make it easy to collaborate with others while playing.
There were things like searching for words, looking for differences, and figuring out a maze. Because of the type of puzzles, most of the cards could only be worked on by one person at a time.
To help with this, if you are going to play with more than just a couple of players, you should plan to take turns flipping and reading the cards and solving the puzzles. Let everyone get a chance to have a try at a puzzle and then have them call in the other players for help as needed.
The difficulty of the puzzles in The Kringle Caper seemed just about right. There were some puzzles we solved almost instantly, progressing the story quickly, and other puzzles that took some time and additional thinking.
We did find one puzzle that had us stumped for a bit which made me glad that there were four of us at the table so we could bounce ideas off each other. We managed to figure it out without using a clue but I think if there had been fewer of us playing we would have been checking the web app for at least hint.
One thing to note is that our family grew up with all of the typical Canadian Christmas traditions. Someone unfamiliar with these is going to have a harder time getting through The Kringle Caper. That said, the web app has an extensive note section that does provide all of the information you might need.
While it didn’t apply to me and my family, I think this could be a cool game to present to someone who is trying to learn about North American Christmas traditions and lore.
Of all of the Holiday Hijinks games we’ve played so far, The Kringle Caper is the one that made me want to write on the cards the most. Even with sleeves, there’s one multi-card puzzle that I ended up taking a picture of with my phone so I could doodle on it digitally. So that’s something to be aware of.
While you can write on the cards and may even want to pull in some glue or tape for this one, I suggest doing what you can to preserve the cards as the Holiday Hijinks games make for great gifts.
Overall my family had a good time playing through The Kringle Caper. The story was cute, and the puzzles were well-designed and were just hard enough. The theme truly did give that traditional US/Canadian Christmas feel, with plenty of references to holiday traditions.
If you are looking for a fun holiday activity to do with your family, especially if you have kids who will get a kick out of being elves running around the North Pole solving a mystery, you should pick this game up.
You can get The Kringle Caper as a print and play, as a physical stand alone game or in a bundle, directly from Grand Gamers Guild where you can use our code BELLHOP to save 10%.
While there be sure to check out the other Holiday Hijinks games. Each is themed after a different holiday with the next one coming up (calendar-wise) being The Groundhog Gambit set on Groundhog Day. You can expect a review of that one soon!
There you have my thoughts on The Kringle Caper, the first game in the Holiday Hijinks series of escape room games from Grand Gamers Guild.
I’ve really been enjoying these holiday themed escape room games, though I am getting towards the end of the pile. However, I do have it on good authority that more are coming. What holidays are you hoping to see featured in this series? Tell me about it in the comments below.
- POCKET-SIZED ESCAPE ROOMS: A whole escape room packed into a light, easy to carry holder, making it ideal as a travel game, holiday game or as a fun gift!
- MINI MYSTERIES FOR ALL ABILITIES: With a range of difficulties, Holiday Hijinks is a family game for kids and adults to enjoy no matter their mystery game know-how.