The Ultimate Guide to Treasure Hunts and Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts can be a fun addition to any family reunion or party.  We’ve included several fun scavenger ideas in this blog that can easily be personalized to your own situation. Scavenger hunts aren’t just for kids though- teenagers and young adults love scavenger hunts too.


Video Scavenger Hunt

Divide everyone into 2 or more teams. Give each team a list of video-taping scenarios such as those in the list below. Be sure each team has a way to take videos and that phones or cameras are completely charged.  Most importantly, set a time limit, so that you don’t have dead time waiting for everyone to return.

Once you’ve gathered your teams, your clues and your video equipment, each team takes off in their cars or on foot and attempts to complete all of the tasks on their list. The first team to  complete all tasks on  the list is the winner.

Provide popcorn or other treats as you watch the videos.  Consider giving prizes for the most creative videos and best actors.

video scavenger hunt

Puzzle Treasure Hunt


Take a picture of where the treasure will be hidden.  Cut up the picture of the location into several pieces. (The older the participants the more pieces)

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Hide the pieces in a designated area. Players search for the pieces then try to assemble the puzzle to get the prize or treasure.

Sandbox Treasure Hunt


Sandbox treasure hunts are tried and true hunts.  Hide pennies, nickels and quarters in sand or saw dust.  Be sure and keep the sawdust and sand contained in a #10 tub, children’s pool or on a sheet of plastic. 


Who’s Got the Key? Treasure Hunt


Gather as many spare keys that you can find. You will need a lot of keys so ask family members to bring their keys also. You can purchase large lots of key blanks on eBay for under $10.00. Hardware stores that make keys usually keep a bucket of reject keys that they are often happy to get rid. Buy a lock and key. Put the lock on a treasure chest or box of some sort with a hidden treasure in it. Hide all of the keys including the key that will open the lock. Everyone searches for a key, when they find a key they try it in the lock- if it doesn’t work they search for another key until someone finds the correct key and opens the treasure.

Nature Scavenger Hunt

This is a great idea for the younger children in your family. Gather 12 random things from your yard, reunion  site or party location. Take pictures of the items and print on cardstock.  Glue to the top of an egg carton  and send them out to find the items.  The egg carton provides the perfect place to store the items they find.

A more complicated version of a nature scavenger hunt is pictured below.  The drawing next to each item make the hunt a little easier.  This type of hunt could be used for an  entire day can be a way to entertain kids when they aren’t excited about other activities that might be planned.

Digital Camera Treasure Hunt- idea 1

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This is such a fun idea for a family reunion. You’ll need one digital camera or phone with camera for each team. Give each team a list of things to take pictures of.  If you want to put a family history spin on this hunt, challenge teams to find:

  • Someone who served in a war
  • Oldest relative at the reunion
  • Youngest relative at the reunion
  • Relative that  has won a trophy
  • Someone that had a rotary dial phone
  • Relative who came the farthest distance to the reunion
  • Someone who has lived out  of the country
  • The couple that has been married the longest

You get the idea- it’s fun to really make teams talk to their older relatives to find out the information.  Be sure and take a team picture with each relative.

Digital Camera Treasure Hunt- idea 2

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Cousin Bobbie planned a digital camera hunt as part of our Thanksgiving fun a few years ago.  We had to find as many things on our list as possible, take a picture of them and return back to the meeting area and determine the winner.  We had to find things like a scarecrow, pumpkin, cat, turkey and Christmas lights.

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“I Spy” Scavenger Hunt for Weddings and Receptions

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Provide a list of “I Spy” photo opportunities and a disposable camera on each table.  As guest eat their refreshments they can look for the list and snap a picture.  These photos will give the bride and groom a different perspective of the wedding festivities.  A printable list such as the one below is available on Etsy.

Scavenger Hunt Clues Using Pictures

Take a picture of the location of a hidden clue but only take a portion of the picture. In the example below you can see that just a portion of the word is shown.  You could do part of a clock, drinking fountain, corner of tent, a car wheel with interesting rims etc.  When the hunters figure out what the clue is a picture of they run to that location to get their next picture clue and so on until they find the treasure.  This does take some advance planning but makes for fun hunt for even the very young that may not be good readers.



Secret Codes Hunt

Writing secret codes is another way to generate clues. Using numbers in place of letters is an easy way to create the code (1=a, 2=b, etc.), but  using a backwards letter code can make things a little extra challenging. Decipher the  clue to find out where to look for their next clue.

Urban Race Scavenger Hunt


As a Youth Council advisor for our town, I had the fun opportunity to participate in a Great Urban Race at Utah State University.  The teenagers learned a lot about the university by unscrambling clues and completing challenges to complete the race.  The kids loved it and I couldn’t help but think what a fun activity it could be for a family reunion, especially if you held your reunion in a town that your family had ties to. 

Urban Race is the team race that’s part photo hunt and part trivia. Teams must solve clues to find checkpoints throughout the city. To move on they must take photos or perform certain tasks to earn points such as collecting:

  • A restaurant napkin
  • A get a take-out menu from a Chinese restaurant
  • A disposable toilet seat cover
  • A stranger’s autograph
  • A coupon
  • A copy of the front page of the local newspaper
  • A change of address card from the post-office

The fun part of an urban race is that the use of cellphones is  okay. Teams may call family members left back at the reunion site to get help with difficult trivia. Everyone gets a chance to participate in the fun.

Riddle Clues

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The most difficult part of a treasure or scavenger hunt for me is making up the  clues, it’s also time consuming. I found a website that can help with that- it’s called “Riddle Me”. They have over Over 10,000 Riddles on 1,200 objects and can target different age groups and types of gatherings.  Their program also lets you be in control over the time of the activity, because it lets you decide how many clues to print in a scavenger hunt.

Happy Hunting- Aunt MO

More Fun Family Reunion Ideas


We’ve done ten fun family reunion ideas now here are a few “bonus” ideas.

Family Reunion Idea #11- Make a Family Crest


Create a family crest or family logo. Brainstorm together what your family means and how that can be represented on paper. In European tradition, a coat of arms, which includes a crest, is a symbolic way of identifying a group of people. There is a wonderful site that makes designing your family crest easy and it’s free. After designing your family crest, enter your email address and then print it out and make your own family crest shirts and other reunion gear.

Family Reunion Idea #12. Hillbilly Dinner

Host a Host a “Hillbilly” dinner at your family reunion. Decorate with gunny sacks, old tires, aluminum cans and a clothesline with long johns and flannel shirts strung between trees or hanging on a prominent wall. Be sure and use plenty of duct tape when decorating your reunion site. Use old newspapers or burlap for your tablecloths.


A hillbilly theme is a great theme idea if you will be cooking hot dogs over a fire or tin foil dinners. Be sure and serve homemade root beer in pint jars (I like the jars with handles but they’re kind of hard to find.) and serve your food on pie tins you get from your local thrift store.

Get your family involved with a pig calling contest and use individual pies (Like Hostess pies) for a pie eating contest.

Family Reunion Idea #13- Make a Human Family Tree

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Take a family tree picture. Arrange your family just like their names would appear on a genealogical chart of the family tree. Take a picture from the young end first, then have everyone turn around and get a picture of the group from the oldest end.

Family Reunion Idea #14- “Who’s Who” Photo Game


Ask Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents or invite everyone to send photocopies of baby pictures of each family member. This is easy to do now that everything s digital. Mount and number each picture on a large poster board. Give each player a piece of paper numbered to match the number of pictures. Each player writes baby’s names that match the numbers. It’s so funny to see who the children at your family reunion think the pictures are of.  They have a difficult time imagining Uncle Ben or Aunt Lisa as a baby.

Family Reunion Idea #15- Have a video scavenger hunt.

This activity will only work if you have access to video cameras and a way to watch the completed videos. A projection system is the best for a large family group. Be sure you have at least one adult with each group. It is probably best to ask adults to bring their video camera and do the filming of the group.

a video camera

You have ________ (specify time) to complete as many items on the list as possible.
You must return to ____________ by the designated time for your tape to be valid.
Teams must limit the filming of each item to 20 seconds or shorter.
All team players except cameraperson must appear in each video segment.
Stay in the specified region for the hunt.
Wear your seat belt whenever the car is moving.
Cell phones cannot be used to complete tasks.
The following list of tasks is a list used at an activity I attended. This is the list they gave us. I’m not a big fan of embarrassing people so some of the tasks made me feel uncomfortable. You can use this list but I highly recommend adapting it to your location and family group.
THE TASKS: (Each task is worth 5 points)
Sing Happy Birthday Song (you may have to sing fast to get it recorded in 20 seconds)
Find a runner. Have your team jog with him or her.
Video of everyone searching on the floor for a contact lens.
Pump someone else’s gas and wash their windshield
Someone ordering a cheeseburger without any cheese.
Doing a cartwheel inside 7-11.
Team riding an automated kiddie ride in front of store.
Go to a restaurant and stand in front of it singing the restaurant’s theme song.
Do a good deed for someone you do not know.
Your group standing by a movie poster rated PG or less.
Someone doing a stupid human trick.
Organize apples at grocery store.
Form human pyramid in front of a famous landmark in the community.
Everyone wearing king hats from Burger King.
Get your whole group into a tree and have them sing “In the Leafy Tree Tops”.
Have a stranger tell you a joke.
When the time is over, teams return to the starting point, your family reunion site.  Dock teams 1 point for each minute they are late.  To view the scavenger hunt videos pop the tape into the player.  Choose two or three judges from your family to keep track of each teams’ score and award prizes to the top teams.