It used to be that scavenger hunts were just for kids. Maybe at camp someone handed you a list of things like "acorn" and "a leaf in the shape of a heart;" or maybe your dad sent you out into the neighborhood looking for a rubber band or some other random item to get you out of his hair.
But it turns out scavenger hunts can be AWESOME, now that you've grown up and pay bills and actually enjoy going to Target. Why not take the time-tested kid scavenger hunt and turn it into something crazy-cool? It's time to turn your birthday party from just a boring get-together where everyone brings a card and then leaves an hour later into an epic celebration that will be remembered for months — if not years — later.
Psst...want us to do it for you? We've done the work and designed a hunt designed just for adult birthday parties.
A great scavenger hunt starts with your guest list
Birthdays usually mean bringing together people from all different parts of your life (or if you're planning for a spouse or partner, people from different parts of their lives): work friends, family, childhood buddies, college besties, neighbors, friends from church or the PTA. For the person celebrating their birthday, it means having all the people you love best in one place. But it can be awkward for those who only know you in a certain context, and don't know anyone else at the party.
That's where a scavenger hunt can step in and save the day: by putting two to four people together who don't really know each other — and then ask them to complete a bunch of tasks that asks them to be a little silly, or display some special talent — your friends will become fast friends in the span of an hour, not to mention they'll learn more about each other than they ever could sitting next to each other at the table.
So as you're planning your scavenger hunt, think about who would make a great team — maybe Emily from accounting recently mentioned her love of yoga, and your sister was just raving to you how much she's enjoying the book Poser: My Life in 23 Poses, it may be time to get these two together for an hour and a half of scavenger hunting. Also, generally speaking, the more people you have to participate, the more fun everyone will have.
Set clear expectations for the hunt
hMost people think they know what a scavenger hunt is all about, but when it comes down to it, the details remain a little fuzzy. That's why it's good to establish a set of rules BEFORE your hunt, and send them out to everyone who's invited at least several days ahead of time so they know what to expect. This reduces confusion, and may also keep some of your more competitive friends and family from getting themselves or others into trouble. If people read through the rules ahead of time, and then you briefly go over them right before the hunt actually starts, they're more likely to enjoy themselves and not wind up disappointed because they didn't understand something. Whether it's the boundaries of where people can go, or how they approach strangers, the clearer you are about what a team needs to do to win, the better.
Enlist the help of friends (and strangers)
We get a lot of questions about whether or not the person running the hunt can actually be in the hunt — and the answer is totally up to you. But if you do decide to participate, then you'll either have to 1) not score the hunt — which is fine, sometimes it's the journey, not the destination, right? or 2) enlist someone else to help you out, which means having them agree to receive all the photo and video texts and keep track of points. You may also want to consider giving yourself a handicap of 5 points, since you'll have likely have seen all of the challenges beforehand. This doesn't necessarily disqualify you from the hunt, but it's probably a nice gesture to prove you've got no intention of "cheating."
Also, one of the absolute best parts of participating in a scavenger hunt is the interactions you get to have with total strangers. Of course you want people to be safe and aware of their surroundings, but most of the time strangers are totally game to help out with a scavenger hunt, especially if you ask nicely (and not have them do anything too embarrassing). So make sure you throw in at least a few challenges where your team needs to find someone who they've never met before in their life to help them out.
Customize the hunt for the person you're planning it for
One of the best things about scavenger hunts is that you can customize the challenges and trivia to the person you're celebrating. Do they have a favorite celebrity? Have the participants find someone who looks like that person to wish them a happy birthday on video. Is there a beloved childhood pet that only a handful of people know? Give extra points to the team that can guess the name/breed. Find inspiration in the person's social media feed, Google the year they were born, ask parents or siblings for funny stories, integrate the person's age into challenges — the possibilities are endless.
Offer prizes to more than just the top score
It's not absolutely necessary to have prizes — but we've found that it ups the ante (and the fun) significantly if people know they're competing for an actual prize. It doesn't have to be expensive — maybe it's the birthday person's favorite candy, or if you're ambitious, an elaborate trophy you make yourself out of spray paint and plastic animals you found at the thrift store. Regardless, a prize gives people something tangible to compete for. We like awarding prizes for other things besides the top score, including the most creative photo, MVP (Most Valuable Player) to the team member who goes above and beyond to creatively answer a challenge, best stranger, etc.
Share the photos afterward — responsibly
Once the hunt is finished, weed out any really embarrassing photos and make sure you share them with everyone who participated. It's best when you can set up your laptop and a projector to share the photos at the post-hunt celebration (many bars will even let you plug into their TVs), but even just creating a Facebook album or private photo cache after the party allows everyone to relive the fun. Just be sure to take out any photos that are really unflattering, or that might possibly make someone feel bad.
Or just download the hunt from us
Our hunts are an affordable, easy way to host an amazing scavenger hunt, without all the hassle. Our challenges are creative, offer something for everyone in the group and bring people together in a way that's non-threatening but totally fun. Schedule your hunt today, and we'll send you everything you need to know to run an amazing adult birthday scavenger hunt with your friends and family!