A Birthday Present Scavenger Hunt

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The birthday girl with her scavenger hunt spoils. Photo: Amy Kraft

My daughter’s big gift for her 8th birthday was getting her ears pierced. We did it the weekend before her birthday, but then I was afraid her birthday would be a let down on the day itself. All we planned to give her to open was an earring holder and a multi-pack of inexpensive earrings.

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Step 1: The first gift starts the hunt. Photo: Amy Kraft

What could we do to make the birthday seem more special without spending any more money? A birthday scavenger hunt was in order.

Here are my steps for this birthday scavenger hunt, and I hope this will inspire you to make your own scavenger hunts. The trick is to make clues that are age appropriate without being too easy–you don’t want it to be over in a minute or two.

I attached the first clue to the earring holder itself for my daughter to discover when she unwrapped it. The earring holder was shaped like a butterfly, which I worked into the first clue.

There’s more to this present if you are a spy.

Can you find what belongs on this butterfly?

Follow the clues to see what you find.

Like Ladytron says, you must use your mind.

Without further ado, here’s your first clue.

A present awaits in a glittery shoe.

The Ladytron reference comes from one of my son’s favorite Yo Gabba Gabba videos, all about solving a mystery. In her pair of pink sparkly shoes my daughter found a pair of flower earrings with the next clue.

Aha! I see you found the flowers.

Now you’re showing your spying powers.

I think you’re ready for the next present.

Try looking in the Room of Requirement.

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Owls peek out of Harry Potter. Photo: Amy Kraft

Aha! A little Harry Potter there. I hid the next pair of earrings in Order of the Phoenix. That one took her a little while. I think for a moment she thought a real Room of Requirement might materialize.

You found the owls! They’re friends of Hedwig.

They said to look next in a truck used to dig.

The next pair of flower earrings was in my son’s bulldozer toy.

What are those? I see flowers you’ve dug.

Now in the plant I see some kind of bug.

Then a pair of dragonfly earrings was hiding in one of the plants.

Now look for a picture of mom’s niece.

If you find her, you’ll also find peace.

This one was tricky for her, too. A pair of peace sign earrings was on the refrigerator held in place my a magnet photo of one of my nieces.

This last clue has a lot of heart.

Look on top of some cute Olive art.

My daughter’s name is Olive, and after first searching all around art that she made, she found the last pair on a painting someone made of her. The last pair of earrings came with this message:

We love you, spy girl. Hip hip hooray!

You found all the presents for your birthday.

I’ve made a bunch of I Spy games in my time, so I felt compelled to rhyme all the clues. Habit. Rhyming isn’t important, but it’s good to make your clues enigmatic. It’s good if there’s both an obvious response and a less-obvious one, so there are places where your child will look first and then have to think harder. Each clue doesn’t have to come with a present, either. A series of clues could take your birthday boy or girl on a chase to find the location of a single present.

I think the scavenger bug is spreading because my daughter also made her dad a scavenger hunt for Father’s Day. This may become a family tradition.

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7 thoughts on “A Birthday Present Scavenger Hunt

  1. Great idea! Love the literary references in the clues. We do something similar for Easter and even though our kids are young adults they still enjoy an “Easter scavenger hunt” simply for the tradition.

  2. Such a great idea! And our family was a lot like Jodi’s (the other commenter): as we got older, my parents would hide Easter baskets using clues. You’ve given more than a gift, but a great memory.

  3. Fantastic! What a great way to make the day a little more special. I will have to keep this in mind, now that my daughter is finally reading her way through everything she can get her hands on. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Thanks, I’m doing the same for my Girlfriend. She wants a nice sowing machine, and knows she’s getting one, so I’m making her work for it. 24 hidden clues which form a secret code which reveals the location of the key for the suitcase her sowing machine is in. She doesn’t work on Saturdays but I do, so I’m gonna leave a little note explaining the game and hope she figures it out on her own. =)

  5. Having enjoyed a number of different occasion scavenger hunts as a child, I can say, this one is excellent! Very age appropriate. A nice reward at each stop. Building a bit in complexity in the middle to build cognitive skils. I really love it. I may give earrings as a gift to a niece just to do a similar thing. Thanks so much for sharing!

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