Treasure Hunt

Ages 4+

Invitations, Activities & Goodies

Looking for a different kind of party? Follow the map!

Treasure Map Invitation

To make the mailing tube, photocopy a map of your neighborhood onto 8 1/2"x 14" paper. Use spray mount to glue the map to a 2"x 12" mailing tube. To make the invitation, trim the edges of an 8 1/2"x 14" piece of blue paper with scallop-edged scissors. Photocopy a second map onto 8 1/2"x 14" paper and trim 1 inch from each edge; apply spray mount to the map's back side and center it on the blue paper. Cut out two 3 1/2"x 2 1/2" green rectangles; trim edges with scallop-edged scissors. Affix one to the invitation and write in the party details. Glue the other to the mailing tube; add an address label.

Treasure Box

As guests arrive, hand each child a painted treasure box. Have them adorn it with glitter glue and plastic jewels from a craft-supply store.

Treasure Chest

Spray a Styrofoam cooler inside and out with black paint. Trim the lid and base of chest with gold ribbon. Cut out two 4"x 6" 0rectangles from yellow craft foam; glue one to the center of the lid in the front and the other directly below, on the chest, to make the lock. Heap the chest with gold-foil-covered chocolate coins.

The Big Hunt

Write or draw clues for a treasure hunt and hide them and a treasure chest an hour before the party. (Make it easy on yourself by using our printable Treasure Hunt clues and game). Divide kids into two teams for the hunt. Each team gets a clue that leads to the next five clues. The last one leads to the chest. For nonreaders, draw pictures.

Fun & Games

Play "What's Missing?" Fill a tray with familiar objects. Have the kids study it for three minutes. Secretly remove one object; let them guess what's gone.

Goody Bags

As kids are leaving, fill their decorated treasure boxes with foil-covered chocolate coins, Swedish Fish, telescopes, and beads.

Treasure Chest Cake

You'll strike gold with this treasure chest cake.

A double whammy of cake and candy, this loot-filled confection is an exciting finale for a pirate party. Key-shaped cookies, decorated with the children's names, make memorable party favors.

Prep and decorating time: 1 hour

Bake time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 box (16 oz.) pound-cake mix
  • 1 can (16 oz.) vanilla frosting
  • Yellow food coloring
  • 1 1/2 cans (16 oz. each) plus 1 cup milk-chocolate frosting
  • 3 pretzel rods, trimmed to 3 1/2" lengths
  • Assorted candies such as foil- wrapped coins, gold-foil-wrapped chocolate nuggets, colored rock sugar, foil-wrapped chocolate kisses, and Starburst hard candies*
  • 26 brown M&M's Minis
  • 1 cup graham cracker or vanilla wafer crumbs
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9"x 5" loaf pan. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes; invert and cool completely.
  2. Place cake on serving platter or foil-covered piece of cardboard. With long side facing front, cut cake in half horizontally at an angle. Set lid aside. With a small knife, cut a 1/2-inch deep rectangular well from bottom half of cake, leaving a 10 border in front and a 1/2" border in back. Remove scraps and crumble with your fingers; set aside.
  3. Frost bottom half of cake with chocolate frosting. (Don't frost the well.) To achieve a woodlike effect, gently run a fork over frosting in a wavy pattern. Tint vanilla frosting yellow and spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2"plain ribbon tip; set aside.
  4. Insert pretzel rods vertically inside the well. Fill well with some of the candies. For lid, cut an 8"x 4" rectangle from cardboard and cover with foil. Spread chocolate frosting on top, bottom, and sides of top half of cake. (Save 1 Tbs. frosting for the keyhole.) Place cake on top of foil-covered cardboard for support.
  5. Place lid over cake, using pretzel rods and back edge of bottom cake for support. Decorate cake with yellow frosting: Pipe a single line along bottom edges and double lines along top and center. For nail heads, place M&M's Minis around treasure box and in a row down center of lid.
  6. Spoon remaining chocolate frosting in a resealable bag; snip off a small corner. Pipe a keyhole. For sand, mix cake crumbs with graham cracker crumbs and spread around cake. Fill with remaining candies, allowing some to fall into the sand.

* Hard candies are a choking hazard for kids under 3.

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