How to Plan a Scavenger Hunt for Kids

As the masters of hide-and-seek, Scout Elves happen to know a thing or two about planning scavenger hunts. During the holidays, Scout Elves often plan Christmas scavenger hunts in their families’ homes. Now, they’re providing the best tips for hosting your own DIY scavenger hunt for kids. Best of all, you can cut down on planning time by using common household supplies for this activity. Happy hunting!

Ideas for Hosting a Scavenger Hunt

  1. Balloon Clue Finder

    Series of elf with clues and balloons

    Start your scavenger hunt by determining how you will ask kids to find items around the house. One way is to buy a group of helium-filled balloons from your local party or dollar store, and attach a number and a clue to each one. Wherever the balloons are placed will serve as the hub for the scavenger hunt. Starting with balloon number one, ask children to read the clue and then go to the location it describes to find a special prize. For example, a clue to describe the kitchen could be, “Go to the place where we make cookies, cakes and pies, and there you will find a sweet surprise!” In the kitchen, leave a treat out with a #1 next to it so kids know they solved the riddle correctly. Keep playing until all clues are solved.

  2. Themed Scavenger Hunt

    Elf and reindeer with sweet treats sign

    Another way to host a kids’ scavenger hunt is to determine a theme, and ask kids to find specific items that fit the theme. This works especially well as a birthday party game for kids. Shop online, or grab items from the dollar bin at a local store that fit the theme of your child’s party. For a beachy scavenger hunt, hide seashells, flip flops and sunglasses around the room, or for a princess-themed scavenger hunt, hide different dress up items like crowns, slippers and wands. To simplify this concept even further, buy one package of candy or party favors, and have kids see how many of that item they can find. The Scout Elves love to use this tip to create Christmas scavenger hunts for their families!

  3. Free Printable Scavenger Hunts

    In a crunch for time? Download these free printable scavenger hunt lists from the Scout Elves! The summer scavenger hunt is perfect for encouraging kids to get outside on a sunny day, while the Christmas scavenger hunt is an ideal winter break activity once your holiday décor is up.

  4. Map the Way

    Elf seated with map

    If you’re feeling creative, create a map-based hunt for kids specific to your home! Draw a rough outline of rooms, and join them together with a dotted line. Number each location. Then, in each room, have a fun activity set up. You could ask kids to play a game or complete a puzzle before moving on to the next location. At the final destination, leave a special surprise out to reward kids for finding the hidden treasure!

  5. Activity Based Scavenger Hunt

    Elf seated with note cards

    Start this hunt by writing out activities on small pieces of paper. Set rules up front, such as, “Each player will need to complete five tasks and document each one by taking a picture.” Then, children take turns drawing a slip and hunting for the items that they will need to complete the task. Ideas include, “Find a hat, and put it on backwards” or “Take a selfie with a stuffed animal.” Once kids are done with the tasks, they can bring the photos they’ve taken to you to receive a big prize!

For more family-based fun, check out Scout Elf Craft Corner!