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Riddle Scavenger Hunts

Riddle scavenger hunts are classic favorite party games. Whether you are hosting a party for toddlers, teenagers, or even adults, this fun and challenging activity is sure to be a hit.


How do Riddle Scavenger Hunts Work?

You can easily customize your scavenger hunt to suit any theme or age group you like, but most games do tend to follow a certain pattern. Basic riddle scavenger hunts will likely involve at least some of the following steps:

  1. For a large group, divide the participants up into teams. This is especially important for scavenger hunts involving young children, so nobody gets lost in the excitement.
  2. Each team assigns a captain. For children's parties, this will probably be an adult or older child.
  3. Teams are given a sheet of clues in the form of riddles. The answer to each riddle is an object that must be returned to complete the scavenger hunt. Alternatively, if you have a lot of time to prepare, you can give just one clue at the beginning and teams will find subsequent clues by solving each riddle.
  4. Once teams have solved all the riddles and found the necessary objects, they return to the starting point. The first team to successfully find all the required items is declared the winners.


Any group activities will usually run more smoothly with an established set of rules in place, even for adult participants. Laying the rules out clearly before the game begins will prevent needless confusion and arguments later on. The rules you choose will depend on the age of the participants and the sort of scavenger hunt you have planned. Some typical rules might include:

  • A map or set of boundary points that restrict where the participants search for items.
  • A set end time for the game. With a definite end in place, nobody will still be out looking for clues when everyone else has moved on to cake and presents.
  • Teams should be reminded to respect both public and private property, especially if the game involves moving throughout the community. Your neighbors will not be pleased if a roving band of teenagers tramp through their gardens in search of an item.

Theme Ideas

Photo Scavenger Hunt

The advent of digital cameras has opened up a completely new dimension to scavenger hunts. Until recently, clues were limited to items that participants could pick up and take with them. For a photo scavenger hunt, each team is given a digital camera along with the list of clues, and is instructed to take pictures of the answer.

Possible clues for this kind of hunt include:

  • Marching forth in single file, I travel home to my sand pile (an ant)
  • Wherever you go I am always near, when night comes I disappear (your shadow)

Pirate Scavenger Hunt

Every child loves a pirate party. What pirate day is complete without a treasure hunt? For this theme, write the clues on a battered up piece of cloth or paper, and add a little pirate jargon to create the mood.

The website Peppers and Pollywogs ( offers some helpful tips for planning a pirate party, and a number of pre-piratized riddle clues. Some of the riddles you will find there include:

  • An old matey could take me down, and make me into a boat to sail around (a tree)
  • If you pull a bunch from the bed, they will flourish and bloom and make our ship move ahead (flowers in a flowerbed)

Princess Scavenger Hunt

For a more girly theme, a princess scavenger hunt is sure to please the elementary-aged girls in your life. Have the party-goers search for items related to their favorite fairy tale princess. For example:

  • The Prince was in love, he knew not with who, but after the ball, she lost her ____ (shoe)
  • Belle is loved for her kindness and looks, but she would rather spend her time with a ____ (book)
  • Snow White and her prince are off to the chapel, now she's recovered from the poisoned ____ (apple)

Alternatively, you could have your treasure hunters search for the princess's lost jewels, or items she may need to go to the ball. Riddles could give hints to the items' locations, or to the items themselves.


Whatever theme you choose, you will need to decide if you want to reward only the player or group who completes the scavenger hunt first, or if you want each participant to get a prize. For younger children, you can avoid disappointment by having the final clue lead to a small treasure chest full of chocolate coins or a similar small prize.

Of course, the real fun is in the hunt.