DIY treasure hunts

Six years ago our older sister Kate published a story and as part of her re-release blog tour, I am giving ideas for making your own treasure hunt!

One of our favorite fun things to do for a sibling has always been to set up a treasure hunt! IN FACT, Kate wrote a middle-grade fiction book about a treasure hunt based off our lives at the time, tweaking details and disguising our identities with code names and all!

It’s such a sweet, down-to-earth read.

Stuffed full of summer nostalgia, a family of friends, and so many mysterious clues… you kinda need this book.Β  πŸ˜‰

treasure hunt header

Today I am sharing some tips for making your own treasure hunt!

We like to do these for birthdays where the end prize is their gift, for just a way to practice sleuth skills, or for encouraging a sibling on a boring summer day.

make a detective kit

Your detective will need their tools of trade on the adventure you send them on, so be sure to equip their kit accordingly! I have a cool leather briefcase I like to use or you can just fill a school backpack.

  • Throw in some snacks to keep up their strength and moral. Trail mix, apples slices, a candy bar, juice box– whatever they like!
  • Next pack a small notebook and a pen so they can write down observations and crack codes.
  • Maybe include some sunglasses and a baseball cap… a good detective is always ready for anything! And who knows when they might need to go undercover.
  • Put in any specific tools they’ll need during the treasure hunt. Magnifying glass, bags to hold evidence, a code book.

plan the clues beforehand

This might be obvious but definitely don’t skip this part! lol Believe me, it gets confusing if even the grand master who set up the treasure hunt doesn’t know what’s going on. πŸ˜› So plan everything out in a notebook first to make sure it works!

  • Where each clue is hidden
  • What the clues say
  • What the solutions/decoded instructions are

Tip: Make any paper look really old and cool. Here’s a simple tutorial.


clue ideas

There are so many creative ways to direct your detective along their way! Enjoy keeping your detective on their toes, just don’t make it too crazy hard. Here are few ideas for different kinds of clues you can do…

  • Treasure map – use blueprints of your house, draw a simple line map, or print the view of your street from Google Maps.
  • Cipher/code – find a code book at the library (but make sure to put it in their kit!), write the clue in Morse code, or use a simple alphabet A=1 cipher.
  • Zoomed-in picture – take pictures of random objects, zoom in so it’s hard to figure out what they are, and hide the next clue where the object is.
  • Book coordinates – have them search through a specific book for P21L3W2 (Page 21, Line 3, Word 2) and so on.
  • Secret word – set up an asset, they have to tell someone a secret password to receive the next clue.
  • Broken sentence – cut up a sentence that they have to unscramble or write each letter of a word on the back of puzzle pieces.
  • Riddle – ask a tough trivia question or riddle that sends your detective to a location, lets them ask for the next clue, or helps decipher a previous clue.
  • Silly dare – tell them to look at a picture frame upside down or pretend they’re an ant in the grass, all to be able to see the next clue.

prize ideas

You get to decide where the final clue leads and what awaits the detective there! I’ve gone as far as actually burying a wooden treasure chest in the ground so Princess M had to use a legit shovel to find it. πŸ˜‚ Here are some ideas of what their prize could be for successfully conquering each clue… (all under $10 and quarantine friendly)

An experience

  • drive-in movie tickets
  • make a dessert together
  • road trip to a lake
  • picnic at the park

A gift


Now go make a sibling’s day with a DIY treasure hunt!

Copy of treasure hunt square

ALSO be sure to check out Kate’s book “The Treasure Hunt” and the blog tour for so much extra content! I heard there’s a giveaway and read-aloud videos too. πŸ˜€



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Copy of limited edition you

21 thoughts on “DIY treasure hunts

  1. Oh cool! I also follow Kate’s blog! Small world indeed XD
    Treasure hunts are so fun. We used to do them too (my mom made sure to keep the clues tricky.) Usually it was a riddle we’d have to solve, though we did try the puzzle idea once. Now I’m inspired with new ideas to try! Thanks so much for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hehe that’s cool you follow kate’s blog already!
      Aw how fun your mom would make them for y’all!!
      Glad this could inspire you, Lily, enjoy creating treasure hunts! πŸ˜€


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