How To Design the Ultimate Scavenger Hunt for Kids

Updated: March 15, 2019
Looking for the perfect birthday party activity for kids? Scavenger hunts bring the party to life, and help burn off all that sugar. Here is a guide to designing the ultimate scavenger hunt for kids' birthday parties.
kids on a scavenger hunt in the woods

It’s time to plan a birthday party for your child, but what activities are going to take place that aren’t part of the same-old birthday party routine? According to Pinterest trend reporting, searches for birthday scavenger hunt parties are up 302 percent, and for good reason.

More: Family Scavenger Hunt

A properly executed scavenger hunt at a birthday party is a great way to entertain kids, teach them teamwork skills, and burn off sugar from cake, and we’re here to show you how to do it, whether you’re hosting it at a mall, in nature, or just at your house!

Start With A List Of Things To Find

Depending on the ages of the kids playing, you’ll be able to determine how easy or hard the items to be found can be. You can also choose, depending on the ages, to go with a straightforward list or a series of riddles or rhymes to lead them to finding the items.

Here are a few ideas via Pinterest to get you started:

If the birthday is around a holiday, such as Halloween, Christmas or Thanksgiving, it can be a fun way to incorporate the holiday. Try these ideas for some more festive fun:

There are a few questions you should ask yourself when creating your list of items to be found, which is the basis of the hunt:

  • How old are the kids playing? Will they be able to understand riddles or should I stick to specific items? Should I add pictures next to each item, or just stick with text?
  • Am I setting a time limit to how long they can play? Or is the first team to find all items on the list the winner? How long will they be able to maintain attention without getting distracted?
  • How many teams should I create, and how many kids should be on each team?

Once you’ve answered some of those questions for yourself and created the list of items to be found, planning the rest should be fairly easy.

Choose A Location

Depending on other party activities, you’ll need to pick the right location for the scavenger hunt, which probably won’t work best at an activity center or gymnastics center, but somewhere a little more open. For little ones, a scavenger hunt in the backyard or around the house can be just as exciting as a trip to the mall for tweens to teens.

A public park for a nature or even Pokémon theme can be fun, or the zoo for your child that’s interested in animals. If your party is happening in the winter where it’s a little too cold for something outdoors, you can still have all the fun in your house or at the mall.

Prepare Supplies

You’ll need a few supplies for the kids to carry with them on their adventure, here are a few tips to help your party stand out from the rest:

  • Assign team colors and purchase baseball hats or beanies for the kids to wear so you can easily identify team members.
  • Coordinate colored ink and designs on the printed list of items to be found with crayons or colored pencils for checking items off.
  • Use a matching solid color tote bag as a way for kids to collect the items.

Pick Teams

Pick teams by having each child draw a coffee stirrer that’s painted on the bottom with the team color in nail polish or marker, or any way that makes it fair to divide up into two or more teams without favoring anyone or leaving anyone out.

More: Scaggy Scavenger Hunt

Decide How to Supervise

If your scavenger hunt is taking place in a public place such as a mall, park, or zoo, make sure there is at least one or more adults tagging along to supervise each team. They can even get in the team spirit by dressing in the team colors.

If the hunt is taking place in your house or a confined backyard, you probably won’t need to directly tag along with the kids, but obviously continue to keep an eye on them while they explore and work together.

Pick a Prize

A small addition to goodie bags will go a long way in the eyes of an excited child without leaving the other team sour.

Here are a few ideas that work for little ones:

  • Mini stuffed animals
  • Trading cards
  • Stickers
  • Temporary tattoos

And some for the older kids too:

  • $5 gift cards to a store in the mall or iTunes
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Notebooks and colored pencils
  • Fun socks or sunglasses

Have fun and good luck!

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