I have three children who have had a combined total of 26 birthdays. That’s a lot of balloons and cake. Feel like if you have to take your shoes off to watch your kid jump into a pool of foam blocks one more time you just might punch a clown?
I’ve been there people, and there’s a better way. Of course you can Google “kids birthday parties” and spend two days reading through all the delightful and creative ideas from Real Simple and iVillage. But I don’t like centerpieces that require glue guns and no kid wants healthy snacks in the goody bags.
Our family likes scavenger hunt parties so much, we did it twice: first for my 10- year-old, and the following year for my 8-year-old. It’s pretty low maintenance, doesn’t break the bank, and is a home run with kids.
The first time we did it was in February so we opted for the nearest mall as our scavenger hunt location, but in warmer weather we did it in our suburban downtown. We broke into teams of 4-5 kids– chaperoned by an adult– who toted clipboards with task lists, $5 petty cash, and a camera (or phone that takes photos.)
Each completed task earned points and the team that got to certain stops first received special candy treats (ring pops, Pez, pop rocks, etc). The tasks ranged from educational (add up how much Aden’s favorite meal costs at a restaurant, budget money to buy clues) to silly (try on lipstick and/or nail polish—huge hit with giggly boys.) The winners got the most points within the allotted time limit. My uber-competitive boys loved the thrill of the hunt and came up with many creative ways to increase their points.
The kids maintained their excitement for almost two hours, which I considered a triumph. For the mall hunt, we ended up at a burger joint and ate a meal but in our town we ended the party at our house for cake so the cost was amazingly low. The planning took about two hours and clean up was nothing.
My scavenger hunt task list and rules are below. I’d love to hear about your favorite birthday party ideas and/or your scavenger hunt experiences in the comments!
–How many players are there on the baseball cake at Village Ice Cream? (5 pts)
–Try on jewelry at toy store and take a photo. (15 points)
–Take photo of 2 team members sitting in tiny wire chairs outside kids store.
–What color is the door at xx Woodland Rd? (2 points)
–Buy an animal cookie at Village coffee for Aden. (5 points)
–Get chopsticks from sushi place. (15 points)
–Look under bench across from corner of Beach St/Woodland- (candy taped under there) (2 points)
–Take a photo with an angel at flower store. (10 points)
–Try on a hat and take a photo at store. (20 points)
–What time is it on biker’s watch in the display at Beacon Jewelers? (10 pts)
–What is the color of the “Welcome” sign at the old Village Belle? (2 pts)
–How many owls are there in the window of Bee and Thistle? (5 pts)
–Get a menu from Village Trattoria. (2 pts)
–Who teaches the 930am class at Yoga studio on Tuesday? (5 points)
Remember we are in a public place and have to be quiet and respectful to shoppers and employees. The goal is to do as many tasks as possible and get the most points. Don’t worry about completing every task. No one should be forced to do anything they don’t want to do so decide as a team what works best.
— No running. You may walk quickly but you will lose points for running and/or bumping into people.
–Be polite. We do not want to bother people or get kicked out of a store for being too loud or rude. You will lose 25 points for any bad behavior.
–Creativity will get you extra points. If you can’t find the exact item on the list, improvise and you may still get some points.
–No infighting among team members. You will get 20 extra points for working well together.
–There will be special bonus surprises at a few locations. These surprises are worth an extra 25 points. Some places will have one surprise, if there are multiple surprises, please only take one per team.
–Be on time. Your team will receive 10 bonus points for getting back to Aden’s house at the appointed time.
Please send me any questions in the comment section. Happy hunting!