How to Make a Birthday Treasure Hunt for Kids

It's the easy and exciting birthday tradition you've been searching for—and it promises to make present opening even more fun.

Scavenger Hunt Birthday Tradition
Photo: Johnny Miller

Searches on Pinterest for birthday scavenger hunts increased 302% year over year between 2017 and 2018. Here's how to start the fun tradition with your kid.

First, decide where to hide the gift. This will be where the scavenger-hunt clues end, so it shouldn't be visible. A closet is ideal. Add balloons, streamers, or a big sign; when your kiddo opens the door, he'll know he's hit the jackpot!

Next, assess your home to figure out where the other clues should go. You can use the whole house for a big kid, but for a preschooler, consider sticking to one or two rooms, says Krystal Chiarolla, of the blog Destination Family Fun. Announce the boundaries before you start.

Base the number of clues on your child's age. Include four for a 4-year-old, five for a 5-year-old, and so on, says Joy Cho, creator of the lifestyle brand Oh Joy! You want the hunt to be long enough to be fun and challenging but not tedious.

Fill in a birthday card with your first clue. This is what you'll give your child when you're ready to start.

Jot down the rest of the clues on slips of paper. Use our riddles and customize them to your liking. For younger kids, clues can be more direct, such as, "Where do we keep food cold?" You may be tempted to pair clues with small treats, but preschoolers might get distracted by the trinkets and lose interest in the hunt!

A idea for school-age kids: For an older kid, you can get fancy and write the last clue on the back of a puzzle. She'll need to assemble the pieces to reveal the hint.

Treasure Hunt Ideas: Clues You Can Use

Copy some or all of these rhyming leads to delight your kiddo!

  • Hooray, hooray! It's your special day! Follow the clues to find your treat. Start by checking under where we eat.
  • Stay on track: Grab an icy-cold snack.
  • Peek inside your rainy-day shoe and you'll find the very next clue.
  • Run to the door, and look beneath where we wipe our feet.
  • Now take a look inside the cover of your favorite book.
  • Dig into the pile of those toys that make you smile.
  • You're almost done. You're missing just one! The final note is hiding with your coat
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