The Twelve Puzzles of Christmas

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The Twelve Puzzles of Christmas. Puzzles marked * are for younger children. Puzzles marked with ** are for older children. Unmarked puzzles are toughies!

SANTA IS enjoying a lie-in: he's had a lot of presents to deliver over Christmas.

**1. He's set his alarm clock for a time when the little hand and big hand are both on exact minute divisions with the big hand exactly two minutes behind the little hand. What time is that?

2. As he sleeps he dreams that a number of shepherds and sheep are about to be startled by angels. One of the angels in his dream notes that if the sheep were to become shepherds and the shepherds sheep, the number of legs would decrease to the number formed by reversing the number of legs.

How many shepherds were there, and how many sheep in their flock?

*3. The three wise men can see a five-pointed star. How many triangles are there in it? (See diagram, below.)

*4. One of the things that makes a long journey tolerable is swapping stories. Unfortunately, Melchior's memory isn't what it was: he tells lots of jokes but he can't always remember the punch lines, for which the other two would probably punch him too - if they weren't so busy hanging on to to their camels. Can you supply the punch lines to these?

a) What do you call a deer without eyes?

b) What do you call a one-eyed dinosaur?

c) What carol celebrates a cheese?

d) Which hymn do they sing in the desert?

e) What was the first stocking filler?

**5. There was a huge "jewel beyond price" in the winterval sale at Herrods and the three stopped to gaze at it.

"I don't know about `beyond price'," mused Balthasar, "but it's certainly beyond what we can afford."

"Let's just buy frankincense and myrrh," said Melchior, "that always goes down well. And anyway, it's the thought that counts, isn't it?"

"I hope not," laughed Balthasar, "as there's hardly a thought in your head." Then he dodged a well aimed kick.

While they are larking about, can you say how many pentagons (five-sided figures) there are on the jewel? How many triangles? (See diagram, above.)

**6. While this was going on, Humphrey the camel was outside, mugging up on his road signs (see diagram, below). What fraction of the area of the larger circle is the smaller one?

**7. "If you want something doing, I say, do it yourself," said a chap in the kitchen and bathroom department of Herrods to one of the wise men. "Do you know," he continued, "I sent my useless brother out with a shopping list. Not a long list, mind. It only had one thing on it. I thought if I wrote it down it couldn't go wrong. How wrong I was. Do you know what he did? He came back with over 2,000 baps. And we never eat bread. So I said to myself, I said..."

Caspar managed to dodge him by hiding behind a stack of bathroom accessories.

What was the man buying, and how had the misunderstanding arisen?

8. The person at the check-out punched in the three amounts in pounds for the gold, frankincense and myrrh. But instead of adding them together he multiplied them. Balthasar was just on the point of protesting when he realised that the answer was just the same as if he had added them: pounds 52.08.

"Now that's quite unusual," remarked Melchior, who shopped at Know-It- Alls, as the trio made their way back to the camel park. "You see, it would have worked for pounds 1, pounds 2 and pounds 3 as 1 x 2 x 3 comes to the same as 1 + 2 + 3. It would also have worked for pounds 3, pounds 3 & 75p, as 3 x 3 x 0.75 comes to the same as 3 + 3 + 0.75."

How much did the separate items cost?

9. A cherub inexperienced in earthly matters looked down from heaven and saw some shepherds tending their flock. Instead of counting the shepherds and the sheep he counted their legs.

The recording angel knew:

a) that there were shepherds and

sheep only;

b) how many legs there were all together.

He also knew that any flock worthy of the name had to contain more sheep than shepherds.

Knowing all this he was able to deduce with certainty exactly how many shepherds and sheep there were.

What is the greatest number of sheep there can have been?

*10. Two of the sheep in this flock are identical twins. Can you say which two? (See diagram, above.)

*11. The three wise men - Caspar (he's the one on a camel), Balthasar (he's trying to lose weight and is on foot) and Melchior (he's borrowed a friendly elephant for the trip) - can't agree which of the three stables they should be visiting or how to get there. In the end they all three decide to go their separate ways (see diagram, below). Which of them arrives at the right stable first?

12. Woken by Mrs Claus with a piping hot cup of breakfast tea, Santa settles back in bed with his daily paper- the six-monthly Polar Times - and turns first to the Puzzle Page, the most important part of any paper. He revels in puzzles such as:

a) The first letters of the first five lines of which carol spell out O SWIM?;


b) Rearrange the letters of the three words TRAGEDIAN, PIRATE, and REAPER to make a Christmassy ensemble (1, 9, 2, 1, 4, 4).

**c) He goes on to find the anagrams of Christmassy things in the following phrases: ITS MR CASH!; CASUAL ANTS; HERMETIC STARS and


Finally he rolls over contentedly

and goes back to sleep. And as he sleeps he dreams that a number of shepherds and sheep are about to be startled by angels...