Treasure hunts are a classic and popular party game idea, and great fun for kids of all ages. Creating a treasure hunt game is not as challenging as it might sound, by following just a few simple steps and using a little creativity you'll have your hunt up and running for your child’s birthday party or holiday event in no time!
Step 1: Choose your hunt location: Decide where you will hold your hunt. Options might include around your house, outside in the yard or neighborhood, in your classroom at school, at a park, or any other special location you might have in mind
Step 2: Choose your hiding spots: Look around your location area for good locations to hide your clues. You may need larger hiding places if you plan on putting goodies at each stop, but any size spot will do if you are just planning on leaving a paper trail of clues.
Make a list of these hiding spot locations. I suggest 10 hiding spots for a typical treasure hunt game. I’ve created a sample list of possible outdoor treasure hunt hiding spots for us to work from. Mailbox, window, gutter, fence, ball, flag, bike, dog chain, doorbell, welcome mat, bush
Step 3: Find Keywords associated with each of your hiding spots: Let’s take our first hiding spot from our outdoor sample game above, mailbox. The key to making good clues is to think of words that you might associate with this hiding spot. Here are some words that come to mind: letters, packages, mailman, flag (on the box), post, delivery, sender, communicate, stamps, etc. These will be your “keywords” for making your clue.
Step 4: Find Rhyming Words: Next, choose one of the keywords that we just came up with and write down words that rhyme with it. For example, if we choose “stamp” from our keyword list above, we can come up with the rhyming words - ramp, champ, lamp, damp, camp. I like “champ”, because I can then say, “you can be a champ!”
Step 5: Putting your Clue together: Use your keywords and your rhyming words to make your clue. The difficulty level of your clues should be adjusted to be age appropriate for your hunters. For younger children your clues should be pretty evident, and conversely a little trickier for older children and teens
Let’s go through an example that I’ve created for younger players for the mailbox hiding spot, using the keyword – stamp - and the rhyming word - champ. Notice I was able to incorporate 2 additional keywords - delivered & letters –from our keyword list into the clue, as a little extra hint. (Always a good idea for younger players)
“Find the next clue to become the champ,
Where letters get delivered with a stamp.”
Now let’s try creating a harder clue for teens and older children. This time I’m going to work with the primary keyword “sender”. My rhyming words include bender, lender, tender, slender, spender. I choose “tender” because it makes me think of love letters!
“Where you might receive words that are tender,
Created by a secret admiring sender”
This clue is a little more complex, in that hunters must first figure out that we’re talking about a love letter, before they can figure out that a letter would be received in the mailbox!
Now that you have the basic process down, you can continue forward creating clues for each of your 10 hiding spots one by one until you have an entire hunt ready to go!
Step 6: Set up your hunt: Once you have all of your treasure hunt clues prepared. Remember that you will have to hand the first clue to the children at the start of the hunt. So, if the first clue leads to the mailbox, the clue in the mailbox must lead somewhere else. (DON’T put your “mailbox” clue in the mailbox!) Hide the clues one-by-one as you walk yourself through the hunt so that you don’t get confused.
If you don’t have the time to create your own treasure hunt game. You can leave this part of your party planning to someone else, as there are great affordable ready-to-play treasure hunt games available online from companies like. Have a great treasure hunt party and happy hunting to all!