What better way to plan a standout party than to have a scavenger hunt birthday party? It’s a unique way to present a gift and kick off a fun party. It can be an all-day event and/or an evening full of friends, food, and fun.
Below you’ll find two variations of a scavenger hunt birthday party theme. The first is a scavenger hunt set up for just the birthday person. The second is a scavenger hunt for the party guests as well.
There are variations of scavenger hunts that make great hobbies as well. When you can combine a hobby and a tradition, great things can happen.
Scavenger Hunt Birthday Party Plans
Here are some simple tips on how to plan a scavenger hunt birthday party that everyone will love to be a part of.
What is a scavenger hunt birthday party?
Just like when you were a kid, it is exactly as the name says – a scavenger hunt. It’s a fun little treasure hunt for the birthday person to go on.
You can easily set this up so that the birthday person takes an adventure, finding little gifts along the way and discovering the big treasure at the end (the party!)
What do you need for the birthday scavenger hunt?
Don’t overthink it – keep it casual and fun. Some items to consider are:
- A few small gifts
- Paper and envelopes, and a few colored markers and pen
- Helium balloons and some decorations
- Imagination and creativity
- Party organized at the end of the hunt
These are just some of the basic things you will need for any scavenger hunt, but you may end up using some other things to make yours uniquely fun. You want to make sure that the whole experience is memorable and special to the birthday person.
These scavenger hunts are always going to be different because you are making each one specific to the likes and interests of a specific person. But there are some tips we can give to get you started on planning your hunt.
Variations of scavenger hunts
Geocaching is one example of a specific type of scavenger hunt. This is where treasure boxes are placed at exact coordinates that you can locate with a GPS.
It is a variation on an older game called Letterboxing that originated in England in the 1850s and is still popular there. It’s a lot of fun and a simple way to lead someone right to their birthday celebration or gift.
Tips for a Scavenger Hunt Birthday Party Plan
There are two types of parties that you can plan here: “Create your own course” and the “everyone participates” plan. We’ll go over both below.
Create your course scavenger hunt birthday party plan
You need to create the hunt itself, like a road map. It’s where you want to send the birthday person to hunt for their gifts.
When creating this map, make it progress from their home (or work) to end off at the party location. It could be fun (but also cruel) if you send them back and forth a ton of times to find all the treasures.
An easy way to help organize your course is to draw it like a map. This will give you a good blueprint when planning and organizing on the big day.
Here are a few ideas for places you may want to send them:
- A local spot they hang out
- Their favorite store
- Friend’s or family’s houses
- A local coffee shop
- The park
Always make sure to end off at a place where you will be and where the party will be. The best way to make this type of party theme fun is to make sure they do not know there is a party at the end. Make every step a surprise!
Make them think
You do not want to just leave notes saying “Go Here” and “Look in Top Drawer”. That is boring and no fun! The victim — I mean — the person needs to think and should have to solve puzzles along the way.
What you want to do is make riddles and puzzles for them to solve. You can use things like inside jokes or past experiences to give them hints about where to go. But also, don’t make the hints or puzzles TOO complicated or they could get stuck for hours and never reach the party!
It is important to send them to places with meaning to them so you can easily create some riddles for them to solve.
Some fun birthday riddle ideas could be:
- One of your “stops” is to a coffee shop you guys always go to.
- You always order a caramel latte and last time you were there, you spilled it all over the floor when you tripped.
- Create a riddle like “It was a great trip but a waste of a caramel latte!”
Hide the treasures
Once you have them at the location, you need to get them to find each little gift … and the next clue.
Create some envelopes with “50’s” colorfully decorated all over them. These will hold the next clue, and give a visual of where the treasure is.
You can also have this envelope attached to a helium balloon somewhere in the location so it stands out.
You can mock up the directions to the treasures in a few different ways:
- Create a mini-map of the location with an “X” where the treasure is.
- Give foot-by-foot instructions (7 steps forward, 2 steps to the left, etc).
- Put arrows in tape on the floor.
At or near the location, place the next clue and/or a small box containing a gift.
The final destination (aka “the birthday party”)
Make this clue a little more difficult to solve. It will contain hints about where you and the guests are.
This clue does not need the map or instructions to where the actual gift is hidden, because you will be there with everyone.
If you do have a final gift you’d like to give them, arrange gift-giving time so everyone can present their own gifts, too.
Ideas for the incremental treasures
These gifts should be sentimental and special to the person. The large end-gift is the actual birthday gift. For that, you can use our 50th Birthday Gift Ideas to get ideas and pick out the perfect one.
For those little “filler” gifts or incremental treasures, you can use funny prank gifts, keepsake memories, or whatever you feel will fit the theme.
Here are some small birthday gift ideas:
- A box of their favorite chocolates or jars of their favorite candies
- Framed pictures of some of your great memories
- Stuffed animals
- Coffee shop or store gift cards
- Picture collages
- An “over the hill” t-shirt
- Birthday Boy/Girl pin
- DVD’s of movies they love or special ones you love together
- Baked goods
You can always tie each small gift into the next location as well. (if one of your clues is a coffee shop, then you can gift a $20 gift card to that coffee shop!)
Group Birthday Party Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts have become a tradition at the University of Chicago and you can read about it in this New Yorker article. This is a great example of how much fun a group scavenger hunt can be!
You could model your scavenger hunt on this example, but use fewer items to keep it reasonable, of course.
In a traditional scavenger hunt, the hunters are provided with a list of items to find. The winner is the person or team who returns first with all the items.
How To organize a group scavenger hunt
We have put together a free How-To Scavenger Hunt Cheat Sheet. (If you have any suggestions for making it better, please share them with us!) Use this to get started on creating a group scavenger hunt for everyone.
As you can see, a group scavenger hunt takes a bit less planning and gets everyone involved in the fun!
You choose the option that works best for you and your party planning ideas. There isn’t a wrong choice when you have two great options like these.
We hope these tips help make a fun-filled scavenger hunt birthday party.
If you could find a way to secretly tape the whole procession, that could be a great party event and so much fun to share with all the guests. At the very least, ask your participants to take photos at each find to share with the larger group later.
Even if it’s not a secret and you go on the hunt as the videographer, it will make a great keepsake.
What else would you add to your Scavenger Hunt Birthday Party Plan?