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This past weekend we got together with some of my son’s friends and held a scavenger hunt at a local shopping center to celebrate his birthday. WE HAD SO MUCH FUN! After posting pics on my instagram, a lot of people were asking questions about how I did this and that so I decided to do a post on it.
If you ever went on scavenger hunts as a teen (we used to do them with church a lot) then you know how incredibly fun they can be. Here is my list of steps to pull it off with low fuss, low muss:
- Choose a Location: We chose an outdoor shopping center because the kids can be a little louder there and not disrupt anything or disturb anyone.
- Send out invites! Initially, I sent out evites (email invites), thinking that would be the simplest and surest way to reach everyone. I was wrong though, because very few teenagers check email as it turns out. They check texts. Email is old hat y’all (I didn’t know this either). So I had Brady send texts to everyone and I contacted the parents.
- Be sure you let parents know what to expect – If you are inviting parents to drop their kids off, make sure you come right out and say that. If you need volunteers to help with the hunt, be sure you request them. Have multiple forms of communication (emails, phone, etc) and make sure every parent has a way to contact you during or after the party should the need arise. We made sure to tell parents that each team would have an adult with them at all times (because that is just how we roll). Remind kids to bring their phones and make sure they are fully charged for pictures!
- Make out your list. This is where it gets really fun. Talk to friends and family members to get as many creative ideas as possible. However, keep your location in mind when planning and make sure you don’t add anything that might cause your participants to get into trouble. Check out my list at the bottom of this post for ideas to give you a jump start and then add your own ideas in the comments to help expand all of our lists!
- Give parents a designated drop off location and time as well as pickup location and time.
We waited around at the location while everyone arrived and once the gang was all there I handed out shirts to each person. The shirts were an important part of the scavenger hunt (see my list) and I thought they’d be a neat momento. To save money, you can forego this or just ask kids to bring an old t shirt they don’t mind having folks write on.
Once we did that, we divided up into teams. Next time I do this, that is the one thing I will do differently. I ended up placing them on teams based on who was born on odd and even days and it pretty much worked out. A more fun (and easier) way to do it would be to place two different colors of lollipops or laffy taffy in a bag and having them draw.
Each team was assigned an adult “coach” to walk around with them, help take photos if needed, and make sure no one gave them any trouble (or vice versa in some cases, but that isn’t a concern with these kids) and I went over the rules:
- Do not be intrusive or disrespectful of any person, business, or creature (natural or mythical). There was a Dr Who convention at the location of the scavenger hunt so mythical creatures could have possibly come into play and I didn’t want to upset any weeping angels.
- Stay out of the way of crowds.
- Remain with your group at all times. Except for the bathroom, of course 🙂
Each team chose a captain and a person responsible for taking photos of everything. I gave that person my cell phone number so that they could text me a photograph of each item along with its number as they went down the list.
And then, we were off! Here are some of the more memorable pics and the total list follows.
Seeing their list for the first time…
Riding air horses outside of P.F. Changs
Searching for an imaginary lost contact
Posing with a fire hydrant as if it were a celebrity
An Entire team in a photo booth at one time. (This is a classic)
Playing Twister without the Twister mat
Re-enacting the King Of The World scene from Titanic
A business card from an Apple Store employee with birthday greetings written to Brady on it 🙂
All of the girls on your team in one bathroom stall. (Make sure there are girls on each team!)
The number 15 (for Brady’s fifteenth birthday)
Shooting a commercial for your team.
An entire team in midair.
These are just some of the highlights. All in all, I had 25 things to find and photograph and then a few questions to answer. I was really surprised that both teams finished everything on the list!
This was great fun, more fun that I even remembered it being when I was a teen. Everyone loved it and it gave them some fun things to do while hanging out and having a good time.
We are thinking about hosting another scavenger hunt once school starts back and inviting the new kids at school to help everyone get to know each other better. If we do that one, we’ll have kids bring their own shirts and definitely make sure we have plenty of adults.
Here is the entire list. I specifically wrote it to keep everyone out of the stores (with the exception of one) to avoid any disruptions and I tried to come up with a few challenges but they rose to the occasion and had a ball doing it!
Brady’s Birthday Scavenger Hunt!
- A coin with Brady’s birth year on it.
- Get a stranger to serenade you.
- Take a photo of your team with a person wearing a concert t-shirt.
- The team with a person playing a musical instrument
- Convince a stranger to sing a Justin Bieber song (video) to the team.
- A business card from someone in the apple store with birthday wishes to Brady written on it.
- Have your entire team sign your shirts
- Have the other team sign your shirts
- Come up with a team name and logo that can be quickly drawn and draw it on everyone’s shirts
- Photo of two team members with a uniformed police officer
- Entire team jumping, each member must be mid air
- Entire team posing in front of the fountain
- Entire team playing twister – without a twister mat.
- A married couple kissing.
- A clock striking 7:00 pm
- All of the girls on your team in a bathroom stall (Boys stay outside for this)
- The number 15
- The entire team posing for a photo with coins over their eyes
- The entire team with a fire hydrant behaving as if the fire hydrant were a celebrity.
- Shoot a commercial about your team. Bonus points if Brady is in the commercial.
- Everyone “searching” frantically on the ground for a contact lens
- Pictures of each of the letters of BRADY, from all different signs, and formed into a collage. App suggestion : instacollage
- Two members of your team re-enacting the King Of The World scene from the Titanic
- Your entire team in a photo booth – at the same time.
- The entire team riding air horses in front of the PF Chang horse
How many benches are there at Bridge street?
What is the time of the last movie showing at the Monaco tonight?
How many sinks are there in the men’s restroom?
Hi… I am doing this as a bday party theme for my son. I have a ton of things on my list, though most are simple and easy to find. Can you tell me about how long it took to complete the hunt? The kids are mostly 8… I wasn’t sure if I should give a certain amount of time…. It will be very hot so I’m concerned…
I don’t really recall but I think it was about an hour. These were teens, though, so they had a ball. You can easily customize it to take thirty minutes if need be. I’d definitely make sure everyone has a bottle of water though. Sounds like it will be fun!
Yes my local library was happy to help out and the kids will be finding items inside… As an opportunity to cool down… As well as have the ability to refill the little water bottles that I am giving them as a party favor!
That is PERFECT!
I just turned 13 on June 16th and my parents are letting me plan my party and I’m going to do a scavenger hunt at my house outside, sense were staying on my property, I’m not sure what I can use for the scavenger hunt , right now I have pencil, map, #13, #211, Soccer ball, could you help me out and tell me some more things I could use, id really appreciate it .
Hi Emma!!! What about a certain kind of leaf, a rock that has to be round, a selfie with a pet or a parent. Something that is a certain color. I will keep thinking and see what else I come up with.
This is great! I’m in the processes of planning my son’s 8th grade graduation party and every idea I have had so far has been “not cool,” but now I have the one that is cool! We live in the middle of a historical town with shops and restaurants that all the kids hangout in. It’s the perfect setting for this! Thanks! Now I just need to figure out the grandprize. Maybe movie tickets for the winning team.
Great idea Cherie!!! They are going to love it!!
thank you this is so helpful my birthday is in a month or so and i had no idea what i wanted to do i saw this blog last year but only had a few friends so now that i moved and have enough friends i can’t wait to do it!
We are currently planning for my daughter’s Sweet 16 party/scavenger hunt. It will be in the downtown area of a small town that most of the kids are at least somewhat familiar with. They will have a map denoting the boundaries of the hunt area, along with their list and clues. One of our goals is to have almost all the clues findable from outside. The only businesses they will have to actually enter will be clued in and we will get an OK from the owner beforehand. In walking around downtown, my husband picked up on the fact that the parking meters in this town are numbered. So we can include clues like “For the business at parking meter #114, what time do they close on Fridays?” or “… what color is the awning?” So they will have to figure out the parking meter numbering to answer the clues.
How long did you give them to do the scavenger hunt? How many in one group? Did you meet up afterwards for food and cake?
Never mind! I just read the other posts! How big was the outdoor mall you went to?
It is of average size I would say. Not really sure how to compare it’s size for you.
So at the end was there a winning team? Prizes? Food after?
I work at a summer camp and i have been trying to plan a scavenger hunt for the older group of girls. they cannot drive anywhere or leave the camp site so i used a lot of these ideas and changed them to fit the camp setting. I will be trying it out next thursday! 🙂
I hope they have a fabulous time!!!!
Same here! My family and I live and work at a camp and I Googled for ideas to fit our space. I’m having so much fun tailoring these ideas to use here: entire team in the changing booth at the pool, spinning on the merry-go-round, photo with a staff member, finding special land marks, etc. This will be mixed ages and group sizes. I am excited!