Planning a Scavenger Hunt

magnifying glassOne of the most popular of party activities is a scavenger hunt. Itís a fun game thatís suitable for both children and adults, and various types of parties. You can customize the hunt to fit your theme, your guests, and time constraints.

This game gives partygoers the opportunity to get out and about and socialize on their quest for treasures on their list. Careful planning of your scavenger hunt is important to the success of your party. There are many tips and ideas below for you to organize and set your hunt in motion.


If your party is celebrating a holiday, the theme should pertain to that holiday. When it comes to birthdays or general parties, you could select a theme so that you can create a list that focuses on a subject or hobby. For example, if the guest of honor at the birthday party loves the outdoors, you can create a scavenger hunt theme around outdoor activities such as camping and fishing. The list would include items such as matches, water purifying tablets, fishing line, and tackle. Ideas for a nature hunt would include natural things found outdoors such as acorns, clover, pine needles, and perhaps a red leaf.


You can mail out themed invitations, stating right on them that youíre planning a scavenger hunt. This will alert your guests to dress appropriately for the weather, wear comfortable shoes, and have adequate fuel in their vehicle if theyíll need transportation. You can add a little mystery to the event by telling them how to prepare but not discussing the details of the game.


Divide and conquer! If you already know who will be attending your party, you can pre-select the teams for scavenger hunt. If not, you can let your guests choose their own teams once you announce the game. Smaller groups of about four or five people work best because itís easier for them to get around in a vehicle (if needed) and they are less intimidating for neighbors and businesses.


The scope of the hunt can be as small or large as you wish it to be but safety should always be of concern. For young children, your yard may be all that is needed and you can gather your supplies and hide them in advance. You can enlarge the area for older children and assign them to a block if your neighborhood is a safe one. Itís always a good idea to alert your neighbors so they can be prepared. Make sure each team is accompanied by at least one adult.

Adult hunters can have much more freedom with less limits. Depending on the size of your neighborhood or city, you may need to assign them a section so that not everyone hits the same places. This will make finding the items on the list easier and keep the teams apart. Of course everyone will want to go to the nearest places but you can give a little more time to compensate for teams venturing further.


Every team should be given some supplies before they begin. You can add and subtract items that are appropriate for the scavenger hunt that youíre planning.

  • List of the rules
  • List of items to be found (Custom lists can  be found on the left side of this page. Consider adding one item that is very difficult to find and award bonus points for that item)
  • Bag to hold the items
  • Flashlights with fresh batteries
  • Cameras for photo hunt
  • Whistles for children on a nature hunt

Scavenger Hunt Rules

To ensure a fair game for everyone, you should explain the rules before the game begins and provide them again on a sheet of paper to each team to refer to while out on the hunt. The areas, the time limit, if substitutions and pictures are allowed, and whether or not items can be purchased should be stated in the rules. Stress how important it is to respect other peopleís property. Keep your word if you promise to return any items and be prompt.

You can also reveal how the winner will be chosen. The criterion doesnít always have to be the same. The prizes can simply be given to the team who found the most items on the list, or the list can be divided into a point system based on the difficulty of finding the items. With a point system, the items on the lists do not have to be identical but the points should.