How to Conduct a Treasure Hunt

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Treasure hunts are one of a handful of mainstay games at parties or gatherings. The game involves having guests locate a series of clues in order to find the “treasure.” Treasure hunts can last a few minutes or a few hours, depending on the number and difficulty of the clues. It's not all just for fun either, treasure hunts can also be team-building experiences, if people have to work together to discover and decipher the clues.

  • Pick out a “treasure” that the players will be seeking. Small goodie bags work well, as more then one player can enjoy them. Fill them with anything you desire, like candy, toys, tchotchkes and even lottery tickets (for older players). Or, pick out one large prize for the winner, but be careful. A desirable prize that cannot be shared can lead to intense competition, which everyone may not enjoy. Intangible prizes work well, too, like preferential seating at dinner or the first piece of the party's cake.

  • Create a list of clues players will follow. Each clue tells the players where to find next, so they form a chain leading to the treasure. Tailor the difficulty of clues to the ages of the players, and the location of clues and route between them. They can be in the form of poems, riddles, pictures, or simply explanations of where the next clue is. Or, challenge the players to decipher the message in a small game, like a word scramble.

  • Place the clues throughout the playing space. You don’t have to hide clues, but in a a small space, like a backyard, it is better if the clues are out of sight.

  • Split the treasure hunters into teams, if necessary. If all are on one team then the clues can be consumed or destroyed, like a note in a plastic egg, hidden among numerous empty eggs. However, for multiple teams, clues need to be replaceable once found, so that other teams can still play.

  • Start the game by telling the players the first clue. For multiple teams, the first clue should separate them so all don’t end in the same place. Have the first clue offer the teams multiple possible locations for the second clue. When everyone works together, you can ignore this.

  • Monitor the game as it is being played. Step in and help teams that fall behind, or if anyone encounters a clue they cannot figure out. Make sure players return the clues, so other players can use them.

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  • Photo Credit treasure chest image by sumos from Fotolia.com
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