If you’re thinking about a scavenger hunt for your next birthday party, bachelor party, or just for fun, you’re in the right place. We’ve got everything you need to make your hunt fun and memorable.
Setting up a scavenger hunt for adults doesn’t have to be complicated. A successful scavenger hunt should include:
- Choosing fun clues that put your friends in hilarious situations
- Creating or buying desirable prizes
- Making great memories with friends
To set up a successful scavenger hunt for adults you need to do the following:
Step 1: Choosing a theme for your scavenger hunt
We’ve touched on the five steps, now let’s look at each one in detail.
A theme is, of course, optional. That said, a good theme creates a special atmosphere that can heighten a special event such as a birthday or a bachelor party. Having a scavenger hunt that’s perfectly suited to the occasion can make for a truly memorable event.
Tip: Out of ideas for an upcoming holiday? Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are all classic party themes.
Typically, creating a holiday-themed scavenger hunt allows you to stick to simple, funny ideas for clues that everyone is familiar with.
Themed Christmas hunt example
Let’s say you’re having a Christmas themed hunt.
The clues could involve participants singing Christmas carols to complete strangers or running around dressed as Santa Claus and asking people for directions. The point of a clue like this is to get the participants to do it, capture the evidence, and then present the ridiculous results when everyone gets together again at the end of the hunt. How funny would it be to see your best friend singing their lungs out in the snow wearing a big fluffy beard?
So, what other themes are out there?
Given that almost everyone has a smartphone, you could make this into a theme. A popular example is the so-called “Selfie Scavenger Hunt”, where you give your participants tasks like taking a selfie with a stranger, selfie with a stop sign, with a bus driver, and so on.
Tip: If you really want to make your scavenger hunt stand out, don’t make all of tasks the same. Do connect them with a theme, but then be creative! Get your participants to go out in public, do some funny things, and document it! Remind your participants to be mindful and respect the personal space of others (don’t just run up to a stranger unannounced, snap a picture, and hightail it out of there).
Other themes worth considering are bachelor/bachelorette parties, baby showers, or celebrating a work or personal milestone. For more concrete ideas, visit our For Kids page for a long list of ideas you can easily adapt for adults.
Step 2: Make a list of tasks for the participants!
Finding the right balance between difficulty and the feeling that all the tasks can be accomplished is tricky. Making the tasks too hard, or simply giving the participants too many things to do makes it feel like it’s impossible to win – or even finish! I suggest a list of 15 tasks that range from somewhat easy to pretty darned hard and/or embarrassing.
Set a time limit as well . That way the participants know when they should return to claim their prize. Make it clear that there’s a time limit (two hours max) and that the group who completes everything first wins.
Your list of tasks should be multidisciplinary, playing to the strengths of your entire group. Getting different people to sing, dance, take photos with strangers, pretend to get married in a public place, light some fireworks, slow motion Kung Fu fight on a subway platform (while carefully avoiding fatal accidents) are the kinds of things I’m thinking of.
Tip: When creating the tasks, try to think of what your guests are capable of. Are they shy? Are they musical? Can they sing or dance? Are they good at impressions? The point is to get them out of their comfort zone. You can cater to the people who are good at certain things: i.e. getting a group to try and make 5 cents on the street just by using their voices. People who can sing will probably pull it off, others might try and fail miserably – BONUS for video evidence!
I strongly recommend a scavenger hunt that forces the participants to go out into your neighborhood and interact with the public. Unless it’s below freezing in the middle of winter, there’s simply no excuse!
- Don’t make too many tasks
- Set a time limit (2 hours, 3 for pros)
- Use your guests’ skills to their advantage
- Create a balance between difficulty and the feeling that you can WIN
Step 3: Make or buy prizes for the winners (and losers)
Prizes are, of course, the motivation for folks to play in the first place. In any case, you’re going to need to think about prizes and whether they should be bought or homemade. Should they be consumables? Should they be expensive? Don’t break the bank, save your money and rather come up with something memorable or funny.
Tip: Some hosts like to announce the prizes before the hunt starts. The thinking is that this motivates your participants to really go for it. Personally, I like to keep everything secret. Never underestimate the value of a good surprise! I’d rather have the wow factor at the end of the game, leaving things on a high note – you don’t want to create a situation where your friends bicker about who cheated and who really deserves that special prize.
Something else worth mentioning is that the prize for 1st place shouldn’t be drastically better than for the last place.
Say there are four teams of three players each. You send them out into the world with their list of to-dos and two hours later they all come back. Only one group completed all the tasks. 1st prize should be something like a coupon for a night of bowling – make it so the team who wins gets to do something else to celebrate their victory. The other teams can get movie tickets, loot bags, or a bottle of cheap wine. Or perhaps a combination of things?
Put some thought into what prizes will surprise and delight your guests – and then brainstorm from that starting point! Go the extra mile and they’ll be talking about it for years.
Step 4: Invite your friends and split them up into pairs or groups of three
Planning a party of this magnitude requires advance notice. Make sure nobody bails at the last minute – especially if it’s a relatively small group. Send out invitations (snail mail means it’s serious!) well in advance. I recommend at least a month’s notice.
I suggest 4 teams of 3 people each for the following reasons:
- Even if you have 1000 friends (on Facebook), you probably only speak to, meet up with, or regularly see 12 of them. Time with close friends ought to be celebrated. Put in the effort for them.
- 3 is a magic number. Think about it: lots of important things are divided into 3 groups or categories, the most obvious example is time (past, present, and future). In all seriousness, though, the practical reason is that two people will often be performing a task and the third person is there to film it!
- The likelihood that three people have different skills or abilities is high. 3 is a party, as the saying goes!
Step 5: Making sure things run on time
And now onto the most important point: Time.
Tip: Give everyone around 2 hours to accomplish all the tasks and return to the meeting place
Why 2 hours? This number is based on experience. It’s enough time to work through the list and feel the pressure, but not so long that things start to drag or get boring. This also leaves time to decompress, have some food, and hang out afterwards.
Choosing the right length also helps everyone stay focused on completing the tasks quickly. If the participants feel they have all day, then they’re going to mess around (and get hungry). If you want to make your scavenger hunt a real hit, make sure that after the prizes are awarded there’s food and drinks for everyone. Don’t be caught off guard! You’d be surprised how hungry people get when they’re running around the neighborhood being silly, interacting with strangers, and having a good time.
While your guests are doing the hunt, you can use the time to prepare. Make sure the prizes are somewhere handy, set the table, and make sure everything is in order. Then take a breather and imagine how amazing the videos are going to be!
If you plan well in advance, invite a diverse group of friends, split them up into teams, set challenging tasks and hand out great prizes, everybody is going to have a good time. Even the skeptics, I promise! Themed parties can be the right move depending on the time of year or the occasion being celebrated. However, you can still have a memorable evening without a theme.
If want some more clues and tips, take a look at our HUGE LIST OF IDEAS as well. I bet you’ll find something you didn’t think of, or something you can’t find anywhere else. Almost all the ideas in the FOR KIDs section can also be great fun for adults.
If you’ve set up your own scavenger hunts before, or simply want to share your clues, comments, or the like, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Learning about how run or improve their scavenger hunts is fantastic.