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Scavenger Hunts

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Big and Little Scavenger Hunt

In the past, we’ve created scavenger hunt templates on a variety of themes including anachronismsluckfairy talesNancy DrewpunchlineschildhoodHarry Pottersymmetry, and dreams.

For this month’s hunt, we’re going big.

And we’re going small.

We present the Big and Little Photo Scavenger Hunt List:

  • Someone wearing Giants gear (either New York or San Francisco will work).
  • A Little League team member.
  • An “Andre the Giant has a posse” sticker.
  • A Micro Machine, in the original packaging.
  • Movie poster for BigGiantHoney, I Blew Up the Kid; or something else along those lines
  • Movie poster for Little MonstersSmall SoldiersTiny Furniture, or similarly titled film.
  • Jolly Green Giant packaging.
  • A baby animal.
  • They Might Be Giants album art.
  • Someone being micro-managed.
  • A giant check. Like, Publishers Clearing House giant.
  • A MINI Cooper.
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That’s just to get you started. This theme gives just the right amount of constraints to be fun and challenging—you could keep adding to this list forever!

Remember, we’re happy to help plan a scavenger hunt for your next birthday or surprise party. Contact us for a free consultation.

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Scavenger Hunt: Words of the Year

I’m a bit of a word nerd (or maybe just wordy and nerdy), so I always enjoy checking out the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year, and similar lists.

I love that the words can help us frame the events of the year in such a concise way. The 2013 Oxford choice, selfie, calls to mind self-indulgence (Ted Cruz), over-exposure (Miley Cyrus), and a loss of privacy (the NSA revelations). On the other hand, “selfie” also reminds me of self-assuredness (Beyoncé), and sillyness (the new season of Arrested Development), so it’s not all bad!

I wonder if someone took a picture of the person taking a picture of this famous three-way selfie. Meta-selfie!

I wonder if someone took a picture of the person taking a picture of this famous three-way selfie. Meta-selfie!

The lists also prompt us to strive for a cliché-free 2014 (hint: these words are no-nos, not bon mots).

Why not say good riddance to these overused terms with our special scavenger hunt, inspired by Oxford’s list, the BBC’s most overused words, and Lake Superior State University’s list of banished words for 2014?

WORDS OF THE YEAR SCAVENGER HUNT

We’ve used a kind of winner-takes-all scoring system where only one team can win a point for each task. It will up the intensity of the game!

  • Selfie: Take one with a Barack Obama lookalike. Closest likeness wins the point.

  • Binge-watch: Build a house of cards in honor of one of the year’s most binge-watched shows. Tallest house wins the point.

  • Twerk: Record it. Upload it. Most views in an hour gets the point.

  • T-bone (to describe a car crash, rather than a cut of beef): Grill one up (the steak, not the crash). Most delicious dish wins the point. (Pescetarian-friendly version: best seared tuna steak; vegetarian-friendly version: best grilled portobello.)

  • Hashtag: Record an encounter with a stranger in which you use the word inappropriately (e.g. “Can you give me hashtag directions to hashtag the beach? Hashtag thanks!”). Most egregious overuse wins.

  • Hipster: Best photo of an ironic mustache wins.

  • “[insert word here] on steroids”: Collect Livestrong wristbands. Most wristbands wins.

  • Mister Mom (we didn’t know people said this other than to refer to the Michael Keaton movie): Re-enact a scene from the movie. Like this one. Best performance wins.

  • Twittersphere: Record yourself yelling into some kind of echo chamber. Most echoes (retweets?) wins.

Go ahead. Get it all out of your system, and start fresh in 2014!

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Moments: Moving to a new home

This past weekend my sister, brother-in-law, and six-year-old niece moved into a new home. I’d figured that my niece might be anxious about moving—even though it wasn’t a long distance move, she would have to change schools, make new friends, and leave the only home she’d ever known! Sure enough, while I was watching her the night before the big move (to give my sister and bro-in-law some much needed last-minute kid-free packing time), she teared up and confessed that she wanted to live in her “real home” and not the new “sleepover home.”

Fortunately, my sister and I had been scheming for a couple of weeks, and had a plan of attack. Operation: New House Scavenger Hunt was in full effect!

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We came up with a new house-themed scavenger hunt that we hoped would accomplish a few things:

  • immediately give her a positive, fun association as soon as she arrived at her new home
  • get her focused on the things about the new house she was excited about
  • give her an opportunity to put some of her newly acquired reading and writing skills to use

And, honestly, we were hoping to distract her from her fears and anxieties for awhile.

It worked even better than I’d imagined! Here’s how the scavenger hunt went down:

  1. We chose six places in the new house to focus on: her bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom, the livingroom, the front porch, and the backyard
  2. To get to each new place, she had to first solve a puzzle of some kind—hangman, a wordsearch, or using a special decoder wheel to decode a word or phrase
  3. Once she cracked the clue, she had to complete a “time capsule task”—trace her handprint and write her “signature,” cut a piece of string as tall as she is, fill out a worksheet listing the things she was looking forward to in her new house and neighborhood, take a picture with her family on the porch, etc.
  4. She also got a small “prize” in each room—something for her to be excited about. She gets to look forward to making butterfly-shaped cookies in the kitchen, using her butterfly nightlight in her bedroom, playing in her new backyard sprinkler, and more!
  5. The final task was to bury the time capsule in the backyard, with the promise that they’ll dig it up next summer. The time capsule fits in nicely with some of the themes she and her family have been focusing on these past few weeks—namely, change is difficult, but it can also be exciting.

The scavenger hunt worked like a charm! She was completely engaged for over an hour, reading, writing, and racing around her new house. She was definitely focused on the good/exciting things, rather than the scary/uncomfortable things (it helped that her parents had painted one wall of her bedroom purple!).

Do you have a kid in your life who’s going through a transition? New school? New home? Perhaps a well-designed scavenger hunt can help ease the transition. Let us know in the comments!

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‘Round the World Scavenger Hunt

Recently, I’ve been feeling the itch to travel internationally again. I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled abroad quite a few times, but I always seem to want to explore new places. The food! The people! The hilarious misunderstandings! I love everything about it. And, lucky for me, I’ve got a ticket to Barcelona and a couple airbnb reservations in my inbox. That trip isn’t until April, but in the meantime, perhaps I can satisfy my travel urges with a travel-themed scavenger hunt.

I love the idea of using something simple like a world map as the scavenger hunt list. Every country would be labeled, but it would be up to the teams to figure out how to find an item to represent each country (or as many as they can in the allotted time period). They could find cuisine from the country, a novel written by an author from that country, a product patented in that country, etc.

To provide a little structure (because constraints actually help to increasefun), share the following rules:

  • Up to 10% of your items can be food-related
  • Up to 20% of your items can be language-related
  • Up to 25% of your items can be art-related (including visual artists, performance artists, and writers)
  • Up to 20% of your items can be science- or technology-related
  • Items that don’t fall into any of the above categories are unlimited

Scoring works like this:

  • Every country on the map is worth 1 point, except the country you’re currently in which is worth 0 points
  • Award 20 additional points for having three completed countries in each of these regions: The Americas; Europe; East Asia; Northern Africa and the Middle East; Eastern/Western/Central/Southern Africa; and Australasia and Oceania. (Tip: define the regions in advance, to avoid confusion.)
  • Deduct 5 points for each region with no items found
  • Award 10 additional points for any region with every country completed
  • No item can be used for more than one country, but the team can decide which country to apply the item to if it has multiple origins or associations (for example, a team might plan to use their piece of baklava to get the point for Greece, but then later decide to apply it to Turkey after they stumble upon a political protest and decide to capture this moment of democracy in the Greece slot.)
  • Award 10 points to the team with the most creative justification for the link between an item and its associated country.

I think this hunt might be somewhat difficult to administer and score, because of debate about the associations between items and countries. I imagine Wikipedia would be consulted quite a bit. It would be important to set the right tone—one of curiosity and learning. Having teams justify their item associations would be part of the fun. Teams should be rewarded for their creativity!

In fact, the difficulty in this is exactly what is appealing about this hunt. Think of the conversations it would spark at the after party!

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Travel not your cup of tea? You might be interested in our other themed scavenger hunt templates. We’ve got something for everyone: Nancy Drew,Outer SpaceFairy TalesAll Five SensesLuckDreamsJokesSymmetry,ChildhoodHarry PotterFood, and Anachronisms.

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7 Ways to Make the Most of a Scavenger Hunt

This weekend I decided to try out a scavenger hunt from the perspective of a participant, rather than a designer. It had been awhile since I found myself on the seeker end of a hunt, and I had a blast deciphering clues, second guessing myself, and strategizing with my teammate.

Here’s what I learned about how to ensure a great time:

From a recent Everybody’s Invited scavenger hunt. Good people.

From a recent Everybody’s Invited scavenger hunt. Good people.

  1. Go with enthusiastic people. While I think anyone could have a good time at a scavenger hunt, not everyone will always be down. And nothing ruins a hunt faster than a teammate who’s complaining about being hungry, tired, bored, etc. (Note: My teammate was rad, but I can imagine the effect a less-than-rad player would have had.)

  2. Find the right hunt. There are lots of great scavenger hunt companies out there, so find the one that’s right for you. For example, I dig high-tech, puzzle-centric hunts best. But there’s a huge range of options to meet anyone’s scavenging needs. Do you prefer family-friendly or a little bit racy? Indoor or outdoor? A walking tour, a mystery, or a food tour? There are all sorts of settings—neighborhoods, museums, zoos, etc. There are events specifically for singles, for pet-owners, for Harry Potter fans, you name it. Google around a bit, or let us devise a one-of-a-kind scavenger hunt for your next gathering.
  3. Don’t settle for a less-than-stellar team name. Team names are kind of magical in that a good one can actually help create team spirit. As with trivia teams, puns, portmanteaus, a setting-specific “in joke,” timely references to local or world events, and trolling the other teams all make good team name fodder.
  4. Take it the right amount of seriously. On the one hand, it’s just a game. On the other hand…it’s totally a game! Strike a balance. My favorite part tends to be strategizing, so my teammate and I did a little of that, but I had to remind myself to not focus too much on winning as an outcome. The outcome should be having a meaningful experience. Duh.
  5. Bring sustenance. I cannot emphasize this enough. These events can be grueling. You’re on your feet, perhaps running around, barely pausing. This is why trail mix was invented, people.
  6. Enjoy the setting. The hunt I did this weekend was in an art museum, and my only regret is that I didn’t take the time to enjoy more of the artwork. See #4.
  7. Unwind at an after party. If the company doesn’t arrange one for you, I highly recommend picking a bar or restaurant for a post-hunt meetup. There will be stories to share, good-natured accusations of cheating to declare, and beer to drink.

If you’re interested in hosting an amazing scavenger hunt for your next birthday (or your next Tuesday), let us help you create an event that’s as unique as your DNA (unless you’re a twin).

p.s. Did my team win? Let’s just say you don’t become a scavenger hunt designer without learning a thing or two along the way.

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