Combining the thrill of a scavenger hunt with the outdoorsy fun of a good hike, letterboxing attracts enthusiastic participants all over the world. In this scaled-down version, kids follow picture clues (great for pre-readers!) to locate hidden boxes and collect stamp marks in personalized logbooks. At the end, they work together to ?nd the ultimate prize: a secret trove of cupcakes.
Give each guest a small notepad, personalized with her name, to use as a logbook in the hunt and to take home for future letterboxing adventures. Then have the crew make custom stamps for marking the notebooks they find. Set out adhesive-backed craft foam shapes and small wooden blocks (either plain ones from a craft store or repurposed toy blocks). Have each of the kids pick a shape, stack two of them so that they align (doubled-up shapes produce a cleaner stamp mark), and adhere the stack to a block.
Before the party, set up the letterboxing hunt in your yard. First, decide how many boxes to hide and choose a spot for each: the crook of a tree, say, or under a garden bench. Photograph the hiding places, then put a photo of each place in a watertight box, along with a rubber stamp, notebook, pencil, and inkpad.
Hide the boxes in order, placing the first in a spot that kids can easily see. At the final spot (one that's dry and critter-free!), stash the party treats — frosted cupcakes, topped with a decorating gel trail and a letter cookie (we used Newman's Own Organics Alphabet Cookies), make a sweet reward at hunt's end.
When it's time for the quest, the partygoers use the first box's photograph to find the next box, and so on. At every stop, each guest uses the letterbox's stamp to make a mark in her logbook. She also marks the letterbox's notebook with her own stamp and signs her name.
Keep kids energized with a snack that celebrates the wandering life — and the flavors of a classic sandwich. Combine 25 pretzel pieces with a 1/2 cup each of peanut butter chips and dried cranberries. Place the mix in cupcake liners, then set each on a 14-inch fabric square and tie the corners together. If you like, insert a stick into the knot for carrying the bundle (or bindle, as dedicated wanderers call it) to the perfect snack spot. Makes 5 servings.