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Themed Treasure Hunts, Scavenger Hunts and Theme Party Ideas

Looking for theme party ideas? Perhaps you're looking for scavenger/treasure hunt ideas, themed Bingo sets and more? Look no further! Our extensive collection of scavenger/treasure hunts and theme party idea packages will provide everything you'll need for a great party!

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Treasure Hunts for Prereaders

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The Quest for the Holy Grail Full Party Adventure
World Spy Email Adventure - Send someone on a clever spy email adventure!
The Gold Crown of Anubis - a fun combination of dice rolling, choose your own adventure and education!
Discovery of the XT-99 Adventure
To Catch A Wizard Party Adventure
Noferatu - A Vampire Themed Party Adventure
Quest Adventure Journals
Night of the Ghosts - A Ghost Hunt Party Adventure

 

Setting Up A Creative Treasure Hunt
(an article by By Joe Dean)

Treasure Hunt activities are double edge swords. On one hand they can leave room for an abundance of creativity and fun for the planner. On the flip side, the more creative the planner gets, the quicker the process gets more complicated, causing an escalating feeling of being overwhelmed and a desire to quit. Creating one of kind, themed treasure hunts is my passion and I hope that the suggestions provided in this article will assist you as you plan a fun treasure hunt activity for your friends, family and co-workers.

WHY PLAN A TREASURE HUNT?

Treasure hunts are great because of their wide appeal. Their flexibility enables the maximum amount of participation no matter what group is involved. Young can participate as well as old. Those less cerebral can enjoy it as much as someone who works crossword puzzles in their sleep. They can utilize a wide range of skill sets from problem solving opportunities to physical agility to interpersonal dynamics. The shy and bold. The tall and short. The poor and wealthy. EVERYONE can enjoy the activity!

Treasure hunts are also great because of their versatility. They can be adapted to any location or locations and surroundings. They can be created to fit any duration of time needed from several minutes to several days! They can even work around any theme or special occasion you might be planning around.

WHAT KINDS OF FORMATS/OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE

Over the years, I've explored literally hundreds of varieties of formats. There are a few basic formats to begin with. Enjoy creating hybrids of the ones detailed below, or have fun creating your own!

· At a single location - This is where the treasure hunt itself is at a fixed location and all activities, clues, maps, etc. revolve around this single location (i.e. inside your home, at a church, inside a baseball stadium, etc.) Participants travel by foot typically (although there is a lot of room for creativity here…)

· Car Rally - This is where the participants are grouped by carload and progress through the treasure hunt as a team, driving from one location to the other. The options for varying locales are much greater, but deep consideration must be kept so that your participants aren't spending the bulk of their time driving only.
CREATIVE TIP - In order to ensure maximum safety with this type of format (to limit the speeding for example, as the teams will be tempted to do in their cars while they race throughout the city) try this: Group each team together. Tell EVERY participant to remove their driver's licenses from their wallets/purses and hold them in the air. Provide each designated, team driver with an envelope. Instruct each participant to put their driver's license in their driver's envelope. Make sure every envelope is sealed. Now instruct the drivers to put this sealed envelope into the glove compartment of the vehicle they will be driving. When teams return, they must present a sealed envelope. You see, should they get pulled over by a police officer, the officer will ask for the driver's license. At that time, the team will need to tear open their envelope - thus disqualifying themselves from the race.

· Progressive Dinner - This is a fun variation wherein the participants will partake in a full course meal at different locations. Each course (i.e. salad, soup, main course, dessert, etc.) will be served separately at different, previously undisclosed locations throughout the city. The team's job will be to use the clues provided at the beginning to get to their first course/location. Once there and they've enjoyed the course, they will be given instructions/clues that will lead them to a new location, wherein the next course will be served. This can be a lot of fun, especially if the food/meal is themed to the theme of the treasure hunt (i.e. seafood with a pirate theme, etc.)

CREATIVE IDEAS AND NEW TWISTS

· Give your treasure hunt an overall theme. It's more difficult to make sense of the activity without cohesiveness. An overall theme (no matter what it is) does the job nicely. The theme could either be already built in based on the gathering itself (Christmas party, St. Patrick's Day festival) or purely imagined by you. The following is a healthy list of themes to get your creative juices flowing: Pirates, Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider, Spy/CIA/Mission Impossible, Wild West, any of the Disney movies would work for children (and adults…), Medieval, American Revolution, Civil War, Roaring 20s/Mobsters, Arabian Nights.

· Give your treasure hunt a storyline if possible. By storyline I am referring to some 'goal' the teams will be attempting to accomplish. In this way, you'll be transforming a treasure hunt into an adventure. Why connect random locations around the city when you could have the participants continue their search for a specific treasure, recover an ancient Aztec idol or rescue a French aristocrat from the guillotine during the French Revolution! Since we began offering treasure hunt downloads revolving around different themes, our customers have reported that they have observed a much higher level of fun on behalf of those participating.

· Utilize volunteers whenever possible. It's fun to show up at a location to get a clue…however it's a LOT more fun to show up and find someone waiting to interact with! This is especially effective if you've chosen to incorporate a theme to your treasure hunt. Then, you could have volunteers dressed in costume, ready to bring to life the adventure you've created! Volunteers can be recruited from friends, family, schoolmates, children, co-workers, children's friends, co-workers' children's friends…you get the idea. It's not unusual for the volunteers to enjoy themselves more than those actually going through the treasure hunt itself.

· If the teams haven't been grouped by the participants themselves, have fun dividing up the group. This can be done in a variety of ways (you can also see our Article 'Grouping' for specific ideas) including grouping by drivers license numbers, drawing names from hats, passing out 'like' objects written on pieces of paper (those with similar objects are in a group.) In this way, you'll also be providing a creative solution to the 'how do I keep everyone from running out at the same time?' problem. You see, only allow a team to head out once all the members of their team are found and assembled. In this way, the teams being released will be staggered, making it more difficult for teams to follow each other.

· Depending on the reason for the hunt, you might opt to spread the treasure hunt over several days, releasing a little fun each day. This can be especially fun if the treasure hunt is for a single person. They can enjoy the treasure hunt over a prolonged period of time. Each day would present a new surprise on their journey. This can be accomplished by providing the clues needed to lead someone to a new location, but instructing the participant that they must wait until the following day at X time before the next clue will be available. This is also great for the workplace because it will only pull the workers away from their duties for a few minutes a day (depending on how elaborate you've designed the clues and puzzles for a single location.)

· Launch it with a bang! If you've chosen a theme for your treasure hunt, have someone dressed up in character to see the teams off. Be excited and enthusiastic.

· Do your best to have a bang of an ending. Your participants will have rushed, sweat and pushed their brains all in an effort to get to the 'end' of the treasure hunt. Reward them with a great ending by providing snacks and drinks, possibly even entertainment. When possible, give closure to the adventure by providing a visual representation of their goal (i.e. set up a treasure chest if they were looking for pirate treasure, have someone dressed up as a thief if they were trying to catch one, etc.)

 

Creative Ways to Form Teams
(an article by By Joe Dean)

Whether for party games, corporate teambuildings or just small focused discussions, a host/facilitator is presented with the task of putting people into groups. Depending on the participants involved and the activity in mind, this task can fall between overly simple and extremely daunting. The following illustrates some ideas from the simple to the fun and creative on breaking your larger groups into smaller ones.

Simple options
1. Allow the participants to form their own groups. Make sure you inform the participants ahead of time the minimum/maximum member group size you'll allow for the activity.
2. A simple count off. Decide ahead of time on the number of groups that you'll need for the activity. Then count down the participants (1, 2….), starting over with 1 when you've reached the amount equal to the number of groups you'd like to set up. This way will ensure that the groups will have (as close as the possible) the same number of team members. The numbers themselves can be given in a couple of different ways.
a. A simple verbal countdown in front of everyone (for smaller groups.)
b. At the time of sign in/registration, assign each person a number…then recall this number during the time of the activity set up.
3. Similar to #2 above, provide each person with a color. These colors can then be repeated in materials for activity and other parts of the event.

Some more creative solutions to forming smaller groups:
1. Play farmyard animals (for the more outgoing groups…) Give every participant a farm animal (similar to the numbers and colors above - the number of different farm yard animals being equal to the number of groups you'd like to be formed and participate in your activity.) When you say 'Go!' the participants will make an attempt to find their fellow team members…however, they are not allowed to speak! They can only make the sound of their animal. For example, everyone with a 'cow' written on their piece of paper will begin mooing until they all find each other. Sound overly simple? Well, it won't be when simultaneously the ducks are quacking, the dogs are barking, the cats are meowing, the pigs are snorting, the horses are neighing and the chicks are peeping! This can be especially effective for activities involving a competition (such as a treasure hunt, etc.) because the teams will be formed in a staggered formation. Each team will begin the activity/hunt only when all their team members are present. The facilitator could then release the beginning treasure hunt materials to a team only when all members are present and accounted for.
2. Something that take a little more preparation (but can be worth it) is to give every participant a unique item written on a piece of paper. If you know ahead of time that you'll need groups of four, come up with different categories for each team. For example, if you have 15 participants and you want them to break up into three teams of five you might choose three categories such as planets, body parts and musical instruments. Then, on separate pieces of paper write five different planets, body parts, etc. Mix the papers up and randomly hand the papers out to the participants and explain that they must form themselves into like groups. In this scenario, it isn't hard to see that the participants would quickly and easily form their groups. The activity quickly complicates when the number of participants increases (likewise the number of categories.) To control the level of complication (and overall time required to form the groups) you can either choose categories that are more similar (states, countries, cities, continents, etc.) or by opting to tell/not tell the participants the categories to choose from.
3. A variation on the above is to instruct the participants that each team must be formed from ONE of each element of a given group. For example, give everyone in the room a piece of paper with a day of the week on it. You could either group all the Mondays together…or instruct the participants to form a 'complete week' - one member from each day. This works very well…just be careful when dealing with 'left overs' (perhaps there aren't enough Fridays in the room to complete the final week group.) This can be compensated for by instructing the participants to form groups of five (for example) and every team member must be from a different day of the week, etc.

Here are some other categories that you might choose if using options 2 or 3 above: states, cartoon characters, countries, languages, dogs, trees, vegetables, fruits, cookies, continents, modes of transportation, presidents, authors, artists/painters, cities, movies, letters of the alphabet, numbers, songs, phobias, occupations, holidays, months of the year, fast food chains, candy, actors, directions (North, South, East, West), titles (Queen, King, Duke, Prince, Lord, Countess, etc.), illnesses, forms of world currency (yen, dollars, pounds, francs, etc.) and universities.

Focused suggestions for corporate teambuildings:

1. Grouping individuals that normally work together can bring with it two different dynamics. On one hand it can be quite functional, enabling the team members to 'practice' working together in ways that perhaps they might not normally. This can bring about a 'freshness' to their working relationships - which might have drifted into staleness over the preceding months or even years. However, depending on the activity, it could also easily slip into an 'auto-pilot' group interaction where each individual plays the same or similar role that they play day to day (i.e. the leader will lead, the follower will follow, etc.) By mixing up members from different departments, individuals might get to experience an opportunity to play a different role than perhaps they see available in their own current department dynamics. This can be a great way to recognize leadership skills in individuals who might not be currently in a leadership role.
2. A suggestion that can have interesting results is to make sure that each team has a representative from every department (as much as possible.) This is especially effective when there consistent conflicts between certain departments (i.e. sales and accounting, loan officers and closing departments, etc.) It can bridge gaps and understanding between misunderstood departments when the individuals understand that each personality type can contribute something unique and essential to the overall success of the team.


A Treasure of a Fundraiser
(an article by By Joe Dean)

Throughout the 15+ years of designing themed treasure hunts/scavenger hunts professionally, some of the most successful and exciting events planned were for fundraising efforts. With low overhead costs and the ability to generate a lot of excitement for a fresh, new type of event, themed treasure hunts are proving to be more and more successful in raising money for private and public organizations, large and small.

There are a number of different creative and exciting ways to raise money by planning a themed treasure hunt. This article will attempt to 'whet your appetite' as to the numerous ways funds can be raised and excitement generated for your next fundraising event by creating a treasure hunt.

The treasure hunt itself can vary greatly in both size and budget. Some treasure hunts I've produced have been for crowds in the hundreds paying small entrant fees - all attempting to be the first to complete the treasure hunt for a prize donated by a local merchant. Others have been considerably more sophisticated, as in the case of a California Department of Mental Health function held a few years ago. Bids were sold to a more affluent crowd and a Quest for the Holy Grail adventure was held on the grounds of a very large and wealthy estate. (For more information on the Quest for the Holy Grail adventure, click here) The flexibility exists to ensure that every group fundraiser can be successful, no matter the size, age or affluence of the participants.

The following is a collection of ideas to show the various and numerous ways to raise money easily and creatively by planning a fantastic themed treasure hunt adventure:

· Begin by planning on selling tickets to participate in the event. Ticket prices can vary depending on the demographics of your participants. For example, if your are planning an event involving high school aged students, you'd probably fair better at selling hundreds of tickets at a cheaper price. However, if you were planning an event for a more mature and sophisticated crowd, you might want to sell tickets at a much higher price, making available only a set number of tickets for purchase to ensure higher odds at winning the grand prize for the participants (especially if a prize is given for the winning team.)

· Great prizes can be offered. Many groups have been very successful at arranging for prizes to be donated by local merchants. Sometimes a large prize was donated, such as a television set. At other times, a small basket of several smaller gifts has been offered from donating merchants ($15 gift certificates, etc.) Prizes can also come in the form of services provided by the organization planning the treasure hunt. For example, a prom committee raising funds for their dance could give out free Prom bids to the first five finishing teams. Another idea for a prize is to have the top placing teams being refunded their entry fee - or even getting a percentage of the total proceeds taken in by the event.

· Here are a few tricks to get prizes donated for your treasure hunt:
o Offer the vendor's location as one of the stop's at the treasure hunt (free advertising)
o Offer to photocopy a small advertisement on the back of a map or clue to your hunt
o Allow the vendor (depending on the type of business they are in) to set up a booth or something thereof at the final destination to the treasure hunt.
o Put the sponsor's advertisement on the ticket the participants buy to the treasure hunt

· As a way to enhance your treasure hunt theme, find out if a local costume shop will donate one or some of the needed costumes

· Curtailing the above, if there are any other props or set pieces that would enhance your treasure hunt theme, find out if there are any vendors who would donate them in exchange for a form of advertising.

· Capitalize on your treasure hunt theme. Is your theme based on Pirates of the Caribbean? Why not have a small pirate port themed area at the beginning/end of the hunt and sell spaces to vendors where themed items and food can be sold? The same would work for a mini Renaissance Faire or an Egyptian marketplace. Depending on your treasure hunt theme, you could really plan a spectacular bazaar that could rival the hunt itself for excitement!

· Print up a mini story or background piece about the theme and storyline of your adventure treasure hunt and distribute them to the participants before they begin. It will generate a lot of enthusiasm when your participants get consumed with the story.

· Once the treasure hunt event is proven a success, it could easily be turned into an annual event, as it did with several of my clients. Teams from the year before's treasure hunt often reassembled in later hunts to try once more to win the prize. A continuing plaque or trophy could be displayed with the current and all past year's treasure hunt winners.

Perhaps the greatest part about planning a themed treasure hunt adventure for your next fundraiser, besides all the excitement it will generate, is the fact that it has a potentially very high chance of having very little overhead costs. Aside from some photocopies and footwork, few other expenses need to be expended - now that is music to a fundraiser's ears!

Plan something new and exciting that everyone will remember in future years! Plan a treasure of a fundraiser!

For a listing of our different treasure hunt packages CLICK HERE

 

Tips for Holding Treasure Hunts in Public Parks

It's been proven to me over and over again that one can hold a really great treasure hunt just about anywhere. Parks are great places to have them! Sometimes you can find some with small caves and tunnels made out of overgrowth (my personal favorite...). The following is a small list of useful and practical tips when hiding clues at parks (most I have learned the hard way!

1. Make sure that NO KIDS see you hide your clue or bury an object. I guarantee you, as soon as you leave, they will rush over and remove whatever it was that you left. It sounds terrible, but remember...they ARE kids and finding a mysterious clue or unearthing a treasure chest is like a slice of heaven to them!

2. Find out what times the parks open and close. Sometimes different parks close at dusk, other times much later in the evening. I've been escorted by policemen out of parks when I've tried to hide my clues the night before. Not fun.

3. Keep in mind where the sprinklers are. Many parks have their sprinklers timed to go off in the middle of the night. Even if you are successful at hiding your clues the night before, you could be left with soggy scraps in the morning.

4. Depending on your theme, look for parks with or near washes. Typically, at least in So. Cal. where I live, you'll find a heavy growth of vegetation. I've used locales like this for jungles and pirate scenes (the water is a great place to hide a bottle with a note - just make sure that you secure it with rocks so that the current of the wash doesn't move it.)

5. When exploring these heavy-growth areas (off the beaten track), be careful of vagrants' domiciles. You don't want to get too close to someone's home.

6. Many parks are themed. Get a hold of your local county map a puruse the parks in your area. I did that once and found a killer Western themed park. It had a street with shop fronts, a jail, a hotel, the works - and it was all made from old wood. Sometimes, the best parks are nestled in housing tracks where few readily know where to find them.

7. Be careful of festivals. Sometimes a festival can take over an entire park - without any warning - taking that killer place that you were planning on hiding the final object. Check the Dept. of Parks and Rec. in your area to make sure that a surprise like that won't happen.

8. Curtailing the above, make sure that you find out who might have certain areas of the park reserved. Sometimes a company picnic could be just as big a problem - if they were in the wrong spot.

9. Keep in mind the amount of walking time. It's great to utilize a huge park, just make sure you walk the entire path yourself first.

10. Find a park with nature trails. You can find some fantastic places for clues here (especially if you wander off the path a bit!)

11. Be aware that some parks charge you to park. Also keep in mind where the parking lots are - and all of them. I have had some participants once enter a parking lot that I wasn't aware of...boy did that mess things up!

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