How to Make a Scavenger Hunt for a Birthday Party

By Cheryl Starr
Maps work, a clue-driven scavenger hunt birthday party
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Scavenger hunts can be incorporated into birthday parties for all ages. With endless possibilities, your scavenger hunt can require the players to collect items from a list, and it can include a trail of clues, riddles or puzzles to solve before finding the items. In some cases, instead of collecting items, older players can be required to go to specific places and photograph an item or place, for proof they were there. However you organize them, scavenger hunts definitely spell fun.


Float rubber ducks, a kiddie pool, clues
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Design an age-appropriate variation for the scavenger hunt. Variations can include nature hunts, mall hunts, neighborhood hunts, a pirate-style treasure hunt, color-themed hunts, hunts requiring photographs or video-taped clues and hunts including trails of clues or puzzles to solve.

Write the list of clues or items for gathering, depending upon your variation. If you are using a list of clues, write the clues on tickets, separate pieces of paper that are small enough to fold and place inside of a balloon, an Easter egg, a thermos or another container that you want to hide them in.

Plan the guest list and decide if you will instruct the guests to hunt for the items on their own or in groups. If you choose the group-route, separate the guests into teams. If you are planning for varying age groups at the party, balance the ages out. Place personalities together that you feel will promote a positive and fun environment.

Setting Up

the purple door, you, eight or nine clues
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Supply tricks for each clue item. Hide the clues somewhere creative, such as behind a door, inside a balloon tied to a rock or inside of an Easter egg.

Provide bags for the players to place their items in, if they will be taking part in the contemporary style scavenger hunt. Items they can hunt for are random things that are challenging, but not too difficult as to be impossible, such as a glue stick, an apple, a thimble, a push pin or a green sock. Items can also be thematic, such as items that are all one color.

Insert inexpensive key-ring style digital cameras within each team's bag and place one of the team members in charge of taking photos as they find clues along the trail. Adults can upload the pictures onto a computer. After everyone enjoys some cake, players can watch their pictures unfold, set to music on the screen, for extra fun.

Tips to Keeping it Together

players, Sue's Sweet Shop, Main Street
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Write a master list of all of the clues and the order in which they appear on the map or in the chain of puzzles or riddles.

Visit with the neighbors in advance, informing them of the hunt. You may even offer your list to neighbors who want to join the fun, so they won't have to feel responsible for searching through closets or sewing kits while players wait at the door.

Draw a map on a poster board before anyone leaves for the hunt, outlining the boundaries with a red pen.