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12-25 Christmas Number Challenge

Put your math skills to the test with this Christmas number challenge involving the digits in 12-25. Can you use the digits 1, 2, 2, and 5 to create expressions equivalent to each number between 1 and 25?

I was inspired by the great success of the 3-1-4 Pi Day Number Challenge, and I wanted to create a number puzzle with a Christmas theme.

I realize that Christmas-themed puzzles are not appropriate in every school setting. My school goes all out with celebrating Christmas. We have had 7+ days of Christmas themed dress-ups, a school wide Christmas movie themed door decorating contest, and a daily Christmas trivia contest over the intercom. If you are looking for non-Christmas themed puzzles, I’ve got hundreds of other free printable math puzzles to choose from.

Christmas Number Challenge Instructions

Use the digits 1, 2, 2, and 5 exactly one time each along with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, parentheses, and exponents to create mathematical expressions equivalent to the numbers between 1 and 25.

partially completed 12-25 christmas number challenge

Exponents can only be used if they are one of the digits 1, 2, 2, or 5. For example, I could do 5^2 – 2 – 1 to make 22. The exponent of 2 counts as the use of the digit 2 in my expression.

Additionally, concatenation of digits is allowed. 2 and 5 can be combined to form either 25 of 52.

screenshot of 12-25 christmas number challenge puzzle

Want to allow your students to use other mathematical symbols such as decimal points, factorials, square roots, etc? That’s totally fine. But all of the numbers from 1 to 25 can be found without using any of these symbols.

Update 12-18-23: I received a message from a blog reader letting me know that the entire puzzle can be solved without using any concatenation. So if you are looking for an added challenge, try to solve the puzzle without concatenating any digits. Special thanks to Jamie Spencer for this suggestion!

Using this Puzzle in the Classroom

I’m a bit late getting this puzzle put together this year. I actually only see my students for two more days before Christmas Break, and we will be taking semester tests both of those days.

christmas number challenge in magnetic pocket under "puzzle of the week" sign

This year, I plan to have my students work on this Christmas number challenge after they finish with their semester tests. Next year, I will likely put it up on my dry erase board as one of my December Puzzles of the Week.

close-up of written solutions to 12-25 christmas number challenge
christmas garland with ornaments on them with text "christmas math activities" 


Looking for more free printable Christmas resources? This activity is featured in my collection of Christmas Math Activities and Puzzles. You’ll find 30+ more creative ideas for incorporating Christmas into your classroom!

Puzzle Solutions

I intentionally do not make answers to the printable math puzzles I share on my blog available online because I strive to provide learning experiences for my students that are non-google-able. I would like other teachers to be able to use these puzzles in their classrooms as well without the solutions being easily found on the Internet.

However, I do recognize that us teachers are busy people and sometimes need to quickly reference an answer key to see if a student has solved a puzzle correctly or to see if they have interpreted the instructions properly.

If you are a teacher who is using these puzzles in your classroom, please send me an email at with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.