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. I can be an all-day event and/or an evening full of friends, food and fun.
I have two variations of a scavenger hunt birthday party theme here. The first is a scavenger hunt setup for just the birthday person. The second is a scavenger hunt for the party guests as well. To skip to the group version, click here.
There are variations of scavenger hunts that make great hobbies.
Geocaching is one example. This is where treasure boxes are placed at specific 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.
Option 1 – Send the Birthday Person on a Scavenger Hunt
What is a Scavenger Hunt Birthday Party?
Just like when you were a kid, it is exactly as the name says – a scavenger hunt. We used to all have these, for Easter especially. It’s a fun little treasure hunt.
This is set up where the birthday person takes an adventure, finding little gifts along the way and discovering the big treasure at the end (the party!)
What You Need for the Hunt?
- 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 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.
Tip #1: Creating Your Course
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!
Scavenger Hunt Birthday Party Tip #2: 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.
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!”
Scavenger Hunt Birthday Party Tip #3: 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.
Tip #4: The Final Destination: The End is the Scavenger Hunt 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 final gift you’d like to give them, arrange gift-giving time so everyone can present their own gifts, too.
Tip #5: 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 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
- And “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 in to the next location. For example, if the next location is your favorite coffee shop; make the gift a $20 gift card to that coffee shop.
Option 2 – Everyone Participates – the Party Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt has become a tradition at the University of Chicago. Read about it in this New Yorker article.
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.
Free Download: How To Organize a 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!
For something a bit more detailed, here is an offer that includes a set of party games along with a scavenger hunt guide. Many people have used it to plan their 50th birthday party.
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 – share it 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.