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This puzzle is part of the Puzzling Stack Exchange Advent Calendar 2023. The accepted answer to this question will be awarded a bounty worth 50 reputation.

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It was Christmas at Captain Pun's house, and he had invited his good friend Captain Clumsy round for lunch. Over the turkey, the stuffing, and all the trimmings, Captain Pun regaled his friend with a series of Christmas-related puns (some better than others):

Who is a caroller's favourite Disney princess?
Which of Santa's reindeer is a dinosaur's least favourite?
What's a snowman's favourite chocolate bar?
How do sheep say 'Merry Christmas' to each other?
What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
Who infiltrates the bakery at Christmas?
Why is everybody thirsty at the North Pole?
What's the most popular Christmas carol in the desert?
What did Santa say when Rudolph got sick?
Who delivers presents to young sharks at Christmas?
What do Santa's helpers learn in school?
What is the Grinch's least favourite band?
What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?

Once Captain Clumsy's sides had stopped hurting and his tears of mirth had subsided, Captain Pun announced that actually there was one more joke available for his friend to enjoy, hidden somehow in his Christmas tree decorations ("My favourite of all Christmas puns," he confessed). Captain Clumsy studied the tree and - thanks to his area of expertise - soon had the secret phrase figured out, causing him once more to roll about on the floor, laughing.

Captain Pun frowned. "I haven't even told you the joke yet!"

TASK: Tell us Captain Pun's favourite Christmas joke! (And explain how you know this to be the case...)

Captain Pun's Christmas tree

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1 Answer 1

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What a fun, festive puzzle! The first step is to realize that:

All of the ornaments are stylized versions of International Maritime Signal Flags. Based on this association, you can substitute the associated letters in, and you get what looks suspiciously like a word search grid.

Now the puns:

The answer to all of the puns are hidden in the word search. I admit I had to look about half of them up, because I'm apparently only so-so at Dad jokes (don't tell my kids!), but the answers are:
Who is a caroller's favourite Disney princess? - BELL
Which of Santa's reindeer is a dinosaur's least favourite? - COMET
What's a snowman's favourite chocolate bar? - FLAKE
How do sheep say 'Merry Christmas' to each other? - FLEECE NAVIDAD
What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? - FROSTBITE
Who infiltrates the bakery at Christmas? - MINCE SPIES
Why is everybody thirsty at the North Pole? - NO WELL
What's the most popular Christmas carol in the desert? - O CAMEL YE FAITHFUL
What did Santa say when Rudolph got sick? - OH DEER
Who delivers presents to young sharks at Christmas? - SANTA JAWS
What do Santa's helpers learn in school? - THE ELFABET
What is the Grinch's least favourite band? - THE WHO
What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? - TINSELITIS

Putting them together:

The grid

And finally:

The remaining letters that have not been covered:
Shaded version
form the phrase "DEEP PAN, CRISP AND EVEN", so Captain Pun's favourite Christmas joke is:
How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizzas?

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  • $\begingroup$ Absolutely :) All correct! And this is actually my own favourite Christmas pun too. I'm also partial to the one with the bakery, the one with the desert, and the one with the sheep. $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Dec 10, 2023 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Stiv I actually got the Grinch's least favourite band without a lookup...that one definitely made me smile :-) Thanks for a great puzzle! $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2023 at 23:11

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