Clue IQ – Operation Jingle Bells [Review]

Operation Jingle Bells is one of the best games in the Metro DC area. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms around Washington DC.

The HR department saves Christmas

Location:  Frederick, MD

Date Played: October 3, 2021

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 2-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: scaled pricing from $46 per player for teams of 2 to $28 per player for teams of 10

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We’ve generally had a lot of fun in Christmas-themed escape games, and Clue IQ’s take on saving Christmas was one of our favorites.

Operation Jingle Bells had a great aesthetic, and an entertaining mix of smart, joyous, and funny puzzles.

Flight Command in Santa's Workshop.

This game was explicitly designed for large families to enjoy. The large volume of approachable content, blended with the theme and non-linear gameplay, reinforced that design decision. As a result of its non-linear nature, experienced puzzlers will blow through this game. Bring a team size (and mentality) that fits your goals for Christmas puzzling.

Whether you’re new to escape rooms, or you’re just looking to enjoy a great Christmas-themed escape room, check out Operation Jingle Bells if you’re in the DC area.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • You’re feeling the Christmas spirit
  • Great for any experience level, but fantastic for newbies

Why play?

  • A true large-team game
  • For joyous, cheerful fun


While all of Santa’s elves were busy watching the annual Reindeer Games, the mischievous elf Slappy had broken into North Pole Flight Command and made a mess of all of Santa’s systems. It was up to us to restore them and save Christmas.


Operation Jingle Bells was set in the festive North Pole Flight Command, which was as festive as you are imagining it to be.

The naughty/ nice scanning station in Santa's workshop.

Clue IQ produced a clean Christmas aesthetic that hit all of the right notes and presented clear puzzle stations. It was a great environment in which to channel your inner Buddy the Elf.


Clue IQ’s Operation Jingle Bells was a standard escape room with a lot of parallel solving opportunities. Difficulty will depend on team structure and experience level.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, solving puzzles, and communicating.

A work bench in Santa's Workshop


➕ Operation Jingle Bells was delightful, joyous, charming, and funny. It was packed full of all the holiday cheer we wanted from a Christmas-themed escape room. It included the requisite nostalgia-inducing Easter eggs to amuse any non-puzzlers in your family (and David gives it bonus points for acknowledging Die Hard as a Christmas movie!).

➕ The gameplay flowed smoothly. The puzzles were well clued. It was easy to find similarities to connect information across the gamespace.

➖ The lighting in one area made perception of one puzzle more challenging than it needed to be.

➖ One mundane puzzle lacked intrigue or the thematic pizzazz of the rest of the experience.

➕ Clue IQ added enough swerves to keep a puzzler on their toes.

➖ There was opportunity for a more interesting final challenge that pulled together the puzzling and the plot.

➕ Operation Jingle Bells was designed with a specific audience in mind: families celebrating Christmas together. It was a non-linear game, with space for large groups to spread out and tackle multiple puzzles at once. It delivered on its goals.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • There are lots of restaurant options within walking distance.

Book your hour with Clue IQ’s Operation Jingle Bells, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Clue IQ comped our tickets for this game.

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