These free scavenger hunt ideas are loads of fun! Scavenger hunts aren’t just for kids… teens and adults have a real blast from this great activity! Scavenger hunts are a great way to spice up a free afternoon, explore places you never new existed, and make new friends!
(Make sure you don’t miss the section of Free Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids)
First off, what are scavenger hunts? It’s important not to get confused between treasure hunts and scavenger hunts. Treasure hunts involve following a set of clues that lead you to a hidden treasure. Scavenger hunts involve two or more teams, each with a list of tasks the team members need to accomplish during a predetermined time.
On this page you’ll find all the coolest free scavenger hunt ideas, information and inspiration to piece your own scavenger hunt. Here are some free printable invitations for different Scavenger Hunt themes (Nature, Mall, Around Town, Photo, etc.):
There are a ton of ways to create a successful scavenger hunt and lots of variations. You can create the scavenger hunt to have a specific theme – having to do with a relevant holiday, at the mall, a hunt around your town or city, even an environmental recycling hunt could be great fun! It’s up to you to choose if you want a specific theme or if you just want to create a general scavenger hunt.
It’s important your guests know beforehand that they will be participating in a scavenger hunt, let them know that comfortable clothes are a must!
Divide everyone into teams, It’s best to have no more than 5 people on a team, that way they all can fit in one car (unless you have a big van that can hold more people). Ideally 15 or 20 people would be great (that way you have three or four teams). Try to mix the groups as much as possible so that people who don’t know eachother can get to know one another. If you’re having a couples party, you can also have a couples scavenger hunt, then there’ll probably be more teams and only two people (a couple) on each team.
A fun idea is to disqualify the use of cars and challenge the teams by requiring them to walk and/or use public transportation (bus, subway, train, taxi, etc.).
Give each team a list full of things they need to find, photograph, and/or video-tape. This list could relate to a specific theme, for example at the mall. This can even be broken down even more – for example the teams need to find things at the mall that start with every letter of the alphabet (A to Z), or finding items at the mall that have to do with one specific color. There are unlimited variations! It all depends on what you and your group are interested in. Here are all kinds of free Scavenger Hunt lists you can use:
In addition to the list of challenges, you should also give out a sheet with Scavenger Hunt Rules including a deadline (usually one to four hours from the start time works best). You can also give out to each team: a team colored bandana to each teammate, a map of the city or mall the scavenger hunt is taking place in, ten dollars (or more), a compass, and a few other things you think each team needs during their scavenger hunt.
The first team to find and/or photograph/videotape everything on their list (in a designated amount of time) wins! If none of the teams finish accomplishing everything on their list once the game is over, then the team that achieves the most (whether it be quantity or quality) is the winning team.
Another way to handle your scavenger hunt is to create your own point system. When the scavenger hunt is over and everyone has gathered together to see the photographs and video-taping that occurred during the scavenger hunts, the guests can vote on the presented tasks. For example 1 point if the stunt was completed (whether done well or not), 2 points if the stunt was completed with creativity, 3 points if the stunt was exceptionally creative, etc. This point system can be anonymous, where people write points on a piece of paper anonymously.
At the end of each scavenger hunt there will be a winning team. The winning team was the one to bring all of the items on the list; or maybe each item on the list has a certain amount of points, so the team with the most points wins. You can also add or deduct points for teams who are early or late arriving to the last and final location (a location and final time that is known from the beginning of the hunt). For example: “You earn ten points if you are early”, “You lose a point for each minute you are late”, etc.
We’ve created specific pages full of free scavenger hunt ideas. Don’t miss out on them!:
- Around Town Scavenger Hunt for Adults & Teens
- Mall Scavenger Hunt for Adults & Teens
- Free Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids
It’s best to think of prizes for all of the teams (even if each prize is something small from the dollar store), so that everyone feels that they are awarded something. The winning team can get a bigger prize, for example, each person arriving to the scavenger hunt can put 10 dollars in a prize pot, and at the end- the winning team gets all the money.
When the hunt is over, a great keepsake is to make a scrapbook full of pictures that were taken on the scavenger hunt or a small video showing a few fun scenes that were filmed during the scavenger hunt. You can also send out a picture to each guest with thank-you cards.
Here are some scavenger hunt thank-you cards you can print and send out:
Another cool idea is to edit a small video (possibly 10 minutes long) with all of the highlights of the scavenger hunt (from all of the team’s footage). Then burn a DVD of each movie and send out to each guest (definitely a cool keepsake for everyone!).