I love having birthday parties for my kids, but I refuse to spend the big bucks for a pre-fab party (you know, at the kids’ museum or the indoor play place or the swimming pool, etc). This means I actually have enough money to throw a party for each of my kids, but any time you save money to DIY something, you almost always make up for it in extra time and work. So if you are working on a DIY preschooler birthday party, maybe this will help you out!
My oldest recently turned five, and I thought it would be a good age to do a simple treasure hunt as our party game. I did a bunch of searches online for scavenger hunt clues, and I found a lot of people asking for clues, and no answers. So I had to start from scratch.
The rainbow theme for our party gave me a starting point. Well, actually, an ending point: what better place to end a treasure hunt than the prize at the end of the rainbow?
I started the game with a cloud-shaped card that I gave my daughter, with the introduction and first clue on the back. Six clues followed, each on a piece of paper a different color of the rainbow, and the final clue was on a piece of paper shaped like a sun. As they found and brought back each clue, I added it to the card, so in the end my daughter had a little rainbow sign to keep.
We had another element to the game that would be totally optional: as the kids (they all worked together in one group) found and brought back each clue, they received a piece of a large rainbow puzzle that matched the color of the clue they found. In this way, they built a large rainbow as they went along. When they were out searching for the very last clue (the sun) I put their finished puzzle up on the mantle. The last clue told them their prize was at the end of the rainbow, and I had their prizes (a gift bag for each kid) hidden behind an ottoman on the floor near where the end of the rainbow pointed.
So here are my clues. Obviously, some of them are very specific to our family and our house, so unless your birthday kid is five, and you have a piano, and an uncle to hold the first clue, and your kids’ favorite book is “The Bernstein Bears Tell The Truth”, then you’re going to have to modify a couple of them. But this should get you started!
INTRODUCTION AND CLUE #1 (written on the cloud card):
Happy Birthday, (enter name)! Did you know you’ll be five??
We’ve had such a great time these years you’ve been alive.
Now in your five years, you’ve been quite quick and smart,
So I have a fun game, and this is the start.
Just think on each clue, and go where it leads,
And once at the end, you’ll be happy, indeed.
For if you solve every riddle, the first to the end,
Then you’ll find the prize, for you and your friends!
So gather them up – we’ll need help from each one,
Your first clue is held by Grandma’s last son.
Answer: birthday kid’s uncle. If this isn’t for a five-year-old, you could just leave out the first two lines. “One” is pretty easy to rhyme at the end, so it shouldn’t be too hard to modify the last line for something else. Like… “Your first clue is found in a place you have fun.” (play room) or “To find your first clue, go where you see the sun” (a window where the sun is coming in).
CLUE #2: written on red paper, held by the birthday girl’s uncle in our game.
In this book the bear cubs decide to play ball
In the tree house, which makes Mama’s best lamp fall.
They tell a big whopper, but learn in their youth,
That what they should do is just tell the __________.
Answer: “truth” – next clue hidden in the book “The Bernstein Bears Tell The Truth”. This one can’t really be modified, but you could just skip it and not have a sun clue at the end if you don’t want to come up with something else.
UPDATE: Here’s an alternate CLUE #2, which you could put in any of your children’s books:
You can ride a rocket to outer space,
Or dive deep in the sea and take a look.
Anything you can think up or imagine,
You can explore by reading a ________.
CLUE #3: written on orange paper, hidden in “The Bernstein Bears Tell The Truth” (or any book they can find if you’re using the alternate clue).
When you start to get big, and you’re all done with diapers,
You know which room to use.
But puppies, it turns out, are quite different from people.
When they need to go potty, where do they choose?
Answer: the back door. This probably works even if you don’t have pets – kids should know that dogs use the outside / grass so you could put the clue on any outside door. It’s only more fun if they have to search a couple before they find it!
CLUE #4: written on yellow paper, taped to the outside of the back door in our game.
When the day’s winding down,
And bed time is your path,
Before you get pjs,
You must head to the ______.
Answer: bath. Hide the next clue in the (dry) bath tub!
CLUE #5: written on green paper, hidden in the bath tub.
Some snacks are stored on the shelves,
Some stay on the counter for later.
But some foods like to stay nice and cool
In the ________________.
Answer: refrigerator. You can slip it in the back if you want so they have to look around a bit!
CLUE #6: written on blue paper, hidden in the refrigerator.
Sometimes you just want to sing all alone.
And when you do, we answer, “Bravo!”
But when you want music to back up your song,
Ask Daddy to play the ________.
Answer: piano. You could easily replace “Daddy” with any other name or person. I hid the next clue on the piano keys with the key cover closed, but if you’re worried about kids opening that (they can be heavy on some pianos), you can hide it anywhere under or behind the piano.
CLUE 7: written on purple paper, hidden in the piano:
Play in the dirt, play in the mud,
Play in the sand and the muck and the mire.
Your clothes will swish with soap and suds,
Then clean and wet, go into the _________.
Answer: dryer. I made sure to tape the next clue to the door of the dryer so it was accessible when the kids opened the door and no one was tempted to go climbing inside.
FINAL CLUE: written on sunshine paper, hidden in the dryer:
You can find every color here,
From red to blue to yellow.
Your smart thinking has brought you far.
You’ll find the prize at the end of the __________.
Answer: rainbow. We had a rainbow on the mantle and the prizes were hidden behind some furniture on the floor where the end of the rainbow pointed.
Our group of mostly three- through five-year-olds had no trouble solving these clues (although we had to work through the logic with them a little on the very first one). Between solving the clues, running around the house, searching for the prize at the end, and examining the contents of their gift bags, I’d say this took about 25 minutes. Add to that cake, presents, and a little play time and our allotted party time was all filled up!
All told, this party game cost me about $25: $5 for the colored paper (I bought a sheet of good card stock for each color), $7 for the foam board that I used to make the large rainbow puzzle, and about $10 or $15 for gift bags and contents for eight kids. I spent a little more than I normally would on our rainbow party treats and snacks — about $40 due to some specialty items and ingredients — so this party ended up being a little over my usual goal of no more than $50 (which may be getting a little unrealistic but I’m not ready to officially adjust the budget yet). Still, better than $200 for a couple hours at the germ-infested indoor play place in January!
If you modify the game or add or change any clues, please share your handiwork with us!