Blog | 4 festive Scout hacks


Have a go at these 4 festive hacks!


Make a candle out of an orange

Caught without a candle? Head to the fruit bowl and make your own, using this ingenious Scout hack. To light up a room for 6-8 hours, all you need is an orange, a dash of cooking oil and a match.

Orange Candles

Time: 5 minutes

Equipment: an orange, a knife, a dash of cooking oil, a match


Cut the orange in half and hollow out the fruit, leaving the middle stem in tact. You should be left with something that looks a bit like an upside down mushroom.

Fill the orange skin with cooking oil.

Using a match, light the middle stem like a candlewick. The flame will slowly grow, and the room will soon smell of freshly squeezed oranges.

Top tips: 

This activity works just as well with lemon, grapefruit or lime, so take your pick.

To make a pretty ‘hat’ for your candle, hollow out the other remaining half of the orange and carve some shapes into it. Place it on top, and voila! You’ve upgraded from a tea light to a lantern!


Hide your gift inside a bar of a soap

In 1910, Scouts used the humble bar of soap as a hiding place for their gadgets and pocket change. Today, adding a token gift or note to a bar of soap is a great way to surprise and delight your loved one. Rather than receiving the money right away, they’ll have to scrub their way through the bar until the reward magically appears.


Time: 15 minutes

Equipment: bar of glycerine soap, money (bank notes work best), clingfilm, pen, screwdriver


Start by removing any packaging and labels from your bar of soap.

Roll your money up as tightly as possible. Secure using Clingfilm.

Position the rolled up money in the centre of the bar of soap, and make a small mark of where it ends, using your pen. This will serve as your guide when drilling, so you know when to stop.

Take your screwdriver and drill directly into the soap, stopping at the mark you made with the pen.

Slide the money into the gap you have just drilled, pushing it as far as you can.

Your drill will now have some soap remnant stuck to it. Remove this and place it back over the gap you have just drilled, securing the bar of soap shut.

Give the gift to your recipient. Bonus points if you can make a cheesy joke about money laundering!

Write a super secret letter to Santa, using invisible ink

Invisible Ink Scouts

Psst! Have you ever wondered how spies and secret agents conducted their private conversations? This Scouting-inspired activity teaches you how to create your own covert code, using one simple kitchen ingredient: lemons.

Time: 15 minutes

Equipment: half a lemon, half  a teaspoon of water, small bowl, spoon, white paper, cotton buds, lamp with a light bulb that puts off a lot of heat 


Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the bowl.

Add half a teaspoon of water and stir with a spoon.

Soak the cotton bud in the lemon juice-and-water solution.

Using the damp cotton bud as a pen, write a top-secret message on the piece of paper. To keep things seasonal, perhaps you could write a covert Christmas greeting, or a letter to Santa! If you want to be even subtler, you could write or draw something else on top of the invisible ink. No one will ever know.

Wait a few minutes for the paper to dry. While you're waiting, you can switch on your lamp to give the light bulb time to heat up.

When the paper is dry, hold it up to the hot lamp for a few minutes. To stay safe, make sure you don’t touch the bulb with your hands, and keep an eye on the paper so it doesn’t get so hot that it burns.

After a few minutes, what can you see? Has the invisible become visible? How long did it take for the change to occur? If you’re creating the beacons with your young people, these questions are a great way to initiate a conversation about Science.

Make a festive bottle beacon

Make a Christmassy edition of a classic signal light, and watch as it spreads a little cheer to all who walk by!

Beacon Bottle

Time: 10 minutes

Equipment: an empty glass bottle, a candle, a fabric bow (optional) 


Remove the base of the empty glass bottle, and remove the bottle cork if it has one. Take extra care to avoid cutting yourself.

Get your candle ready, and head outside. Once you’ve found a suitable spot, light it.

Place the glass bottle over the top of the burning candle, pressing it firmly into the ground. This will keep your beacon in place, even in the gustiest of gales.

Top tip: 

For add an extra dash of Christmas spirit, you could tie the bottle with a big red bow. Just make sure you take the appropriate fire safety precautions to avoid any accidents.







Back to articles list

Most read