Holly Holly Holly Holly Holly Holly Holly

Christmas Ornaments

Arrange the ornaments in the box so that no more than
three are in any line horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

Teacher: There are also self-checking versions of this activity for different sized grids:
2 by 2 3 by 3 4 by 4 5 by 5

A Christmas Mathematics Lesson Starter Of The Day


Topics: Starter | Puzzles | Xmas

You can find many more ChristMaths activities at:



  • Rachael, Kirsty and Ewan, Leswalt Primary
  • We really enjoyed doing this.
  • Katie Lumsdaine F2 High School Of Dundee, High School Of Dundee
  • It was challenging but fun and we could use this method to decorate our Christmas tree! :).
  • Transum,
  • After solving the problem for the 4 by 4 grid (not forgetting to check the diagonals) investigate how many different solutions there are. Extend to a 5 by 5 grid and then consider how many ornaments could be arranged on an n by n grid if each column, row and diagonal must contain one empty space.
  • Mr Shepherd, St Lawrence Academy, Scunthorpe
  • 7set4 and 9set4 really enjoyed this, given a minute each and a default fail as soon as a line was completed. We managed to get 14 pupils involved in a 10 minute slot. Exetending to how many possible solutions was beyond them though.

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This starter has scored a mean of 3.3 out of 5 based on 408 votes.

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There is a printable worksheet to go with this activity.


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Laptops In Lessons

Teacher, do your students have access to computers?
Do they have iPads or Laptops in Lessons?

Whether your students each have a TabletPC, a Surface or a Mac, this activity lends itself to eLearning (Engaged Learning).

Laptops In Lessons

Here a concise URL for a version of this page without the comments.


Here is the URL which will take them to a related student activity.


Student Activity


Investigate other sized ornament boxes using a spreadsheet.

Use "1" to represent an ornament in the box.

Set up row and column totals to check whether your solution is correct



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