"I spy" isn't just for family road trips any more. This holiday season, the Darien Chamber of Commerce is creating its own version of the game throughout Downtown Darien.

This year, the chamber is launching a new program called the Holiday Hunt, which aims at promoting local businesses during the holiday shopping rush, according to Chamber President and CEO Carol Wilder-Tamme. The program will run from Sunday, Nov. 29 to Saturday, Dec. 5.

"We've done different things in the past, but decided that we try this approach this year, because we're really trying to get people to go out and shop that first week in December, which notoriously isn't the busiest week," Wilder-Tamme said. "Usually the last two weeks before Christmas is busier."

Darien residents and shoppers can pick up an entry form at participating stores or the Darien Rowayton Bank, or download one from the Chamber's Web site (www.DarienChamberOnline.com) or www.AllAboutDarien.com.

"Once they have the entry form, they have to go to at least 20 of the participating stores and look for the sign in the store that has a red elf on it. The red elf will be saying something, and they have to write down the underlined quote for 10 of the stores," Wilder-Tamme said.

Participants don't have to buy anything when they stop into the shops; the point is to make locals aware of what Darien shops have to offer without forcing them to make purchases.

"At least it gets the shoppers to go into that business," she said. "Even if they don't buy, maybe they'll see something they didn't think the retailers carried.

"There's all sorts of things different stores have that -- who knew -- we're hoping people go in and say `Wow.' And if they don't shop then, they'll come back and shop."

Holiday hunters can drop off their entry forms at the Darien Rowayton Bank lobby after filling in clues from 10 retailers.

Those who complete their entry forms will be entered to win one of three prize baskets. Each of the participating retailers is being required to donate an item to be placed in a gift basket.

The result: three baskets with a wide variety of gifts, appropriate for all ages.

"I think that people are realizing that there are more shops and restaurants in town and that if they go in and look around in some of the stores, they might discover they can do all of their holiday shopping in Darien," Wilder-Tamme said. "We're hoping this will really motivate Darien people to go out and discover a little more about what our specialty shops have to offer."

Participating stores include: Artifact Lanier Collections; Barrett Books; Baubles; Beadz Boutique; Brooks Brothers; Compleat Angler; Darien Doughnut; Darien Sport Shop; Darien Toy Box; Darien Rowayton Bank; Edward Tunick Men's Clothier; Equinox; Fairbanks Photo; Gofer Ice Cream; Grieb's Pharmacy; Helen Ainson; Hands on Pottery; Learning Express; Megan Dey Photography; Melting Pot; Olé Molé; Peartree's Salon; Patricia Blake Catering; Ring's End; Robeks; Runner's Roost; SPECS; WinePort of Darien; WishList and Ten Twenty Post~ Oyster Bar & Bistro.