There is no set of rules when planning a scavenger hunt – all you need is a little imagination. However, to make it most enjoyable it’s important to consider the interests of the child.
Here are some ideas from a birthday scavenger hunt we had for my daughter when she was young and an avid reader of Nancy Drew:
- The morning began with a ring at the door. A mysterious package addressed to my daughter was left by the front steps. Inside the package were detective cards printed with her name, a pocket watch, pen, and the first clue.
- The first clue led to a special location where she was given the hint to look for something red. A red scarf was tied on a tree branch. She climb the tree (with help) to reach the scarf, which held another clue.
- She was directed to a friends house where she kayaked a short distance in a lake (again with help) to find a floating bottle containing the next clue.
- The next adventure sent her climbing a ladder. With adult assistance, she reached the rooftop where a gift was waiting, along with another clue that guided her to a secret compartment in the pocket watch.
- The clue in the pocket watch led to a surprise party at an ice cream shop where all of her friends had gathered for a mini-party to wish her a happy birthday. Her next clue was hidden under one of the tables.
- This led to a clue in her pen, which directed her to our favorite bookstore. Inside the bookstore she found another hint in a Nancy Drew book.
- The clue led her to a mysterious person with a Fedora hat in a coffee shop who gave her the clue to her final destination – a family birthday party where a clue was hidden in a walnut shell that led to a treasure box.
Ideas for hiding clues:
- Freeze a clue in an ice tray.
- Carefully open a walnut, take out the nut and replace with a clue. Glue shell back together. And place in a bowl of walnuts.
- Hide a clue in a pen, pocket watch, or compass.
- Get friends involved by having them secretly waiting at different locations with funny hats.
- Get other peopled involved and ask them to wear a bright-colored smiley face that your child has to find.
- Hide clues in favorite stores at the mall (with the permission of management).
- Empty an old chap stick tube and place a clue.
- Create funny rhymes that lead to clues.
Ten Scavenger Hunt ideas:
- Hold at a shopping mall. With each clue, place a small gift card they can spend at the next location.
- Make it a road trip to a surprise destination.
- Take the treasure hunt to the beach and hide clues in shells and in sealed containers hidden in the water.
- Keep it simple and hold in your back yard. Hide clues under rocks, in water hoses or spouts, inside balloons, write messages on leaves with permanent markers, and if you have a pet, tie a clue to the pets collar.
- Give it a movie star theme and have friends and family dress up like favorite entertainers.
- Separate in groups and make a list of items each group needs to find. Winners get a prize. Guest of honor should always gets a special prize.
- If the hunts for a boy, try a Hardy Boys theme.
- Have friends dress up like their favorite detective – like Sherlock Holmes.
- If your child loves to dress up, incorporate that into the day.
- If your child loves to bake, have a scavenger hunt at the grocery store. Put clues by the ingredients you need to bake a favorite goodie.