How to plan adult treasure hunts

Updated November 21, 2016

An organised treasure hunt is a game in which players use a series of well thought out clues to locate hidden items. Planning a successful adult treasure hunt can be a time-consuming task that results in hours of entertainment and requires little more than an active imagination. Using a theme can prove helpful in selecting corresponding items, though making a list of random items can be just as fun.

Gather your supplies and start planning your party. Assemble your guest list so that invitations can be mailed at least two weeks in advance. Invite enough guests to make 3 to 4 teams of at least three people. Be sure to note on the invitations that guests are being invited to a treasure hunt and to dress accordingly.

Create a variety of hunt categories to inject more excitement than merely locating items. For example, require photos of items such as a statue, particular house or a certain breed of dog. Things to collect, rather than photograph, could be a French fry, movie ticket stub or a coaster from the local bar. Another category could be question and answer. On the hunt list, provide a series of questions that each team must answer, like what movie is playing at the theatre or the current gas price at a particular petrol station. Obviously all answers would need to be verified before the hunt begins.

Record video of your treasure hunt by arranging to have several video cameras brought to the party. Each team will be furnished a video camera and a list of activities to be recorded at various establishments or locations as evidence that the task was completed. Some examples would be to make a team sing karaoke at a particular bar, assist someone washing car windows at a petrol station or dance a jig in front of the local library for onlookers. Assign each team a list of different activities so they don't all converge in one location at once. This will also make the video viewing much more entertaining.

Set up a mall treasure hunt. This can be done one of two ways: photographing items or purchasing items. A mall treasure hunt would be great for including questions about the movie playing in the theatre or the current price of soft pretzels.

Greet guests upon arrival and notify them which team they will be on. If you have guests meeting for the first time, allow time for them to get acquainted. This would be a great time to serve appetizers and drinks. During this time, guests should also be able to peruse the various prizes they can win, such as gift tokens, cash, candles, DVDs or other fun items. To add more spirit to the hunt, you could ask each guest to donate a small amount of money towards the top prize for the winning team to split. Once teams have been established, the party host should collect cell phone numbers from team members so that they can check in with one another throughout the hunt.

Establish a reasonable time limit before the guests get turned loose in the city. Two and a half hours should provide plenty of time for all items, photos and/or videos to be collected.

Assign points to each item on the list prior to the party. When the teams return and all hunt items reviewed, points will be tallied to determine the winner.

Make sure all guests are aware that items to be collected may not be purchased (unless participating in a mall treasure hunt where money is provided in advance).

Guests should ask neighbours or people they encounter throughout the evening whether they can use items that they have found.

Notify all guests that one person on each team is responsible for highlighting items or tasks as they are found or completed.


Searching for random, obscure items is sometimes the best way to keep party guests entertained. A hunt list may include things like the oldest newspaper, a napkin from the city's most popular restaurant or a hotel matchbook. If designated drivers have been provided, it may be fun to provide each team with a list of drinks to be consumed at a series of bars, then have one teammate take video or photographs at each location.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Paper
  • List of items to hunt
  • Guest list
  • Invitations
  • Highlighters
  • Maps
  • Prizes
  • Phone books
  • Digital cameras
  • Video cameras
  • Transportation
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About the Author

Karin Barga contributes to various online publications, specializing in topics related to canines, equines and business. She earned career diplomas in bridal consulting, business management and accounting essentials. Barga is a certified veterinary assistant, holds certification in natural health care for pets, and is a licensed realtor and property manager.