Here’s an original scavenger hunt I created for my nephew for Christmas.  It rocked!  At least that was my perspective and from the enthusiasm and smile that radiated off of Kyle’s face, I’d say my assumption was correct.  Sure, a scavenger hunt can be done for any occasion or simply just for the heck of it.  This scavenger hunt was a Christmas and family focused.  It was also a unique way to give a gift.

scavenger-hunt-clue-for-a-teen-thrill-of-the-huntDue to time constraints and a 15-year old who has way too much in terms of stuff, I was at a loss for last minute Christmas gift ideas.  Reluctantly, I turned to the ever popular and safe bet, gift cards.

Where’s the fun in handing over a bunch of gift cards?  There isn’t any, unless you get creative.  Plus, no one can have too much adventure and interaction in their life, especially teenagers.   Naturally, my creativity came in the form of a scavenger hunt packed with riddles, family traditions and a lot of fun!

A scavenger hunt can be as elaborate or as simple as desired.  It can follow an established pattern or be unique at every corner.  A scavenger hunt can be strictly traditional or a mixture of social media, technology plus the traditional, or it can be completely online.  That’s the best part, scavenger hunts are easily customized to your surroundings, audience, goals, budget, occasion and so on.


Here are a few clues I gave Kyle.  Incorporate these into your very own scavenger hunt, or use them to brainstorm and kick-start your own ideas.

The scavenger hunt started off with a personalized Christmas card that was placed under the Christmas tree addressed to Kyle.  The front read:

Get ready for a Christmas adventure of fun & prizes
Follow 10 clues to find your gifts of all sizes
But be warned, follow the instructions to a T
Hints are few, your Christmas gift rewards are 3

Let’s get started.  Good luck Buddy!

In this rhyme I let Kyle know he would be finding his Christmas gifts and there were 3 of them, plus he had to follow 10 clues exactly. On the inside of the card, he received his first clue.


Venture out to see the ladies
Also stop by House of Hades
Collect the clues at each spot  
They’re hints for your next trot

Clue #1 had multiple levels.  The first part “ladies” is a joke in our household referring to our chickens.  (Yes, actual chickens in the chicken coop.)   The second part “House of Hades” referred to the 4th book from Rick Riordan, Heroes of Olympus series.  Kyle was a big fan of the books.  Each location contained a clue, the chickens housed the clue – Bowl, and the book contained the other clue – Punch.

You got it.  Kyle had to look in our punch bowl, which was brought back from my parents when they lived in Germany while my Dad was in the service.  Our family tradition is to bring out the punch bowl every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Over the years, Kyle has taken over the punch making responsibilities.

At one point my entire family hunted, including Kyle and myself, and my Dad has always been big into hunting since he was young.  We’re no strangers to guns and the safety that should always accompany the usage of firearms.  Placing my Dad on the actual scavenger hunt, he was instructed to pass Kyle this clue when Kyle asked him.

Clue #3

Your next clue points to a gift
Remember backyard safety -be swift  
Any shotgun holds the key
Shoot the jug to set it free

In the backyard, I had a plastic milk jug filled with water and a clue floating inside (wrapped in a sandwich bag).  Kyle went straight for the gun safe, pulled out the .12 gauge shotgun and shot at the jug, a few times for fun.  Once he was satisfied that the jug was pulverized sufficiently, he pulled out the clue Behind the guitar!  Not only did this location contain another clue, a rebus, which was a little harder to solve, but he also received an iTunes gift card. 


The answer to the rubus is a bit tricky, but I couldn’t make it too easy on the kid.  It’s Aunt Heather’s Gravy Boat.  I made the gravy boat out of clay in my younger days.  Since that time the gravy boat, like the punch bowl has made its appearance at the holidays.  The gravy boat contained a black light.  I wrote messages and some clues in invisible ink along the way.  Kyle loved that!  It added another element of excitement and adventure to the scavenger hunt.

Items included

Throughout the scavenger hunt I included a Christmas ornament Kyle got my Dad one year, which held another clue hanging in the Christmas tree.  I included Kyle’s guitar, our punch bowl (mentioned above), a few books, a chess table built by my Grandfather (a family heirloom piece, and Kyle and I like to play chess) and naturally the family dog carried a clue around his neck.

Here’s a clue I placed around Kyle’s dog, Scooby.  I didn’t place it on Scooby until Kyle was close to the clue, for fear Kyle would jump ahead or worse, the dog would scratch it off.

Clue #5

Take a selfie with me Kyle!

Take me for a walk, let’s stop at the apple tree
Let’s take Seven, we’ll both run & be free

Kyle and I used to take the dogs (Seven is my dog) for walks all the time, and every Easter was spent in the orchard in the backyard collecting Easter eggs.  Kyle has also helped plant many of those trees on the property.  Not only was this location significant, but I also wanted to test Kyle’s tree knowledge.  He found it no problem.  Of course, I heard him ask my Dad which one was the apple tree.  Getting assistance is a good thing.  The more the merrier.

In Kyle’s room, I hung one of my old snowboards as a shelf, and I recently added another snowboard to the wall.  Kyle and I have been snowboarding together since he was 4-years old.

Clue #7

Under the Lamar, under the Ride
Another gift is found on the backside
For you & a friend to crush the slopes
You might have to show your friend the ropes

The one snowboard was a Lamar and my old snowboard was a Ride.  I got Kyle a gift card to our local ski slopes for him and a friend.


During the entire scavenger hunt, I had Kyle complete easy and difficult clues and challenges.   I shot video of certain aspects of the scavenger hunt to capture the fun.  I’m sure Kyle won’t remember the gift cards or when he used them, but I’ll bet he’ll remember the scavenger hunt forever.


Make the challenges and clues custom to your participant(s).  I wouldn’t give them a shotgun if they’ve never used a gun before, at least not without some guidance and safety instructions.

Use other personal items that mean something to you, your participant(s) or special interests, sports or music.

Let the rest of the family join in and help solve the riddles or run around finding the clues.  Make sure to capture the moment in photos and videos.  As always, have fun with the scavenger hunt!

It’s not too late to create a Christmas scavenger hunt and take the magic and excitement of the Holidays to another level.  New Year’s Eve is just around the corner, try something new for the New Year.

Did you create your very own holiday scavenger hunt, or did you participate in one?  Share your story with us!

If you’d like to learn more about our suggested themes and ideas, let us know.  We’d be happy to discuss and provide you with a free quote.

Thrill of the Hunt exclusively develops and administers to themed scavenger hunts for public and private events such as team building activities, company outings, fundraisers and private parties.

Remember, Everyone needs to … Experience the Game














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