I love treasure hunts, whether at Easter or just to spice up life some other time of the year. Really, really love ‘em. I’ve thrown elaborate ones, engaging the help of friendly local businesses, neighbours, even webmasters to help dole out clues and prizes; when I was a teenager I threw a big Easter hunt with 20+ kids aged 3-10 in my parents’ home (bless my dad for his enduring good nature. Bless my mum for being out of town); and this year, with my son now 16 months old, I am planning a fun outdoor Easter brunch and treasure hunt. We’re inviting 11 kids between the ages of 1 and 9.
Here are a few tips and tricks for a successful hunt:
Keep It Age Appropriate
If you’re organizing a hunt for a range of ages be sure to keep the hunt fair. One idea is to colour code the eggs by age group or child, and/or include ability appropriate clues. For instance pictures or pictograms for the preliterate crowd work well, while simple written clues for early readers are great, leaving you to get creative with elaborate riddles, word plays and puzzles for older kids. (The toddlers will just toddle, picking up giant empty eggs – their non-chokable prizes come at the end). Another keep-it-fair approach is to set up boundaries for each age group, allowing each group to hunt in a designated area. Organizing kids in teams and having them problem-solve together can also work well.
Set hunt location boundaries. This tip is as important indoors as out. While you absolutely don’t want kids wandering off in a park, nor do you want them in your medicine cabinet or your utility room. For outdoor spaces, you’ll want to inspect them first, ensuring there are no dangers lurking (broken glass, tripping hazards, dog poo, that sort of thing). Have extra adults on hand to help supervise, inside or out.
Think Beyond Candy
While a little bit of chocolate and candy is sort of a prerequisite for these things, consider including other small treats like stickers, temporary tattoos, bubbles, small toys and collectibles (hello Lego Mystery Pack Series 4) and little home-made coupons for treats with mom or dad (a special day out together, a family movie day, double allowance for a week). Granted it’s messy, but having each egg burst open with a poof of confetti also goes over really well.
Have Extra On Hand
Sometimes an extra kid or two shows up – a sibling, the new kid on the block. So be prepared, no one likes to feel left out. Worst thing about having too much: treats for you as a reward for your wonderful hunt or little goodies to gift to kids who visit through the year (or for your next round of birthday loot bags if you’re a parent).
The Back Up Plan
Sometimes the weather (among other factors) can throw a wrench in your plans, so be aware you may need a venue change. If you’re hosting the hunt in the park, see of there’s a covered space like a gazebo you could employ with some ingenuity. Or maybe a light shower just adds to fun so long as the kids are splash-booted and rain-coated.
Plastic Fill-up Eggs Versus the Hand Dyed Real Deal
I love decorating eggs and am excited to do this with my son this year. But for the hunt, with the number of kids we’re having and the span of ages, they’re just too fragile (and too much work). We’ll certainly incorporate them into our table’s centre piece, but this year it’s plastic eggs. If you don’t plan on copping out like me, here are three wonderful how-tos:
- Not Martha’s Easter Surprise Eggs, the Easy Version. These simple but pretty dyed eggs are stuffed with candies. Her no-fail step-by-step guide is great and includes precise directions to get the most vibrant colours.
- Not Martha’s Surprise Eggs, the Craft Genius Version. Whoa, these are nothing short of spectacular! A real eggshell version of the Kinder Egg stuffed with candy and trinkets. Not for the faint of heart as the detailed how-to will describe.
- For something a bit different, try Mexican Cascarones. These fun eggshells are filled with confetti and are meant to be broken by very happy children!
Add-On Games to Keep the Fun Going
- Decorate Easter baskets or bags before beginning the hunt
- Egg and spoon races
- Finish up with a piñata!