DIY Scavenger Hunt: How to add more fun to gift giving

If you want to make unwrapping a present even more fun, there’s nothing better than a scavenger hunt. Send partners or kiddos searching the house for clues tucked carefully in pockets and hidden on shelves until they find their gift in the last place they’d expect. Hallmark Artist Meredith C. and her husband turn giving gifts into an adventure by creating in-home scavenger hunts, and last Christmas, their two-year-old daughter joined the fun. Meredith shares her hints—and some printable clues—below.

DIY Scavenger Hunt lettering title art |

DIY Scavenger Hunt clues laid out on a purple background with a hand lifting up one clue |

How to plan a scavenger hunt

First, choose a path

Do you want to send your gift-givee searching all over the house, or keep them in one room where you can watch them look? Once you know the general area for your scavenger hunt, look for hiding places. Qualities of a good hiding place include:

  • Places to stash a clue where it will stay put: a pocket or the pages of a book or inside a container
  • Things with a story or memory attached, like a favorite picture, nook or book
  • Easy answers to a simple question or description
  • Appropriate to the hunter’s deductive skills and attention span

List the locations for your clues in order, like this:

  1. Hall closet—blue jacket
  2. Kiddo’s bedroom—under pillow
  3. Front door—under mat
  4. Pantry—broom
  5. Hall bathroom—behind soap
  6. Family room bookshelf—tucked in All the Ways I Love You 
  7. Dog—taped around collar
  8. Kiddo’s bedroom—inside lampshade
  9. Shoe rack—inside dress shoe
  10. Kiddo’s closet

This is especially handy if you tend to forget things five minutes after you do them.

Pro tip

Enlist your pets: Wrapping a scavenger hunt riddle around a dog or cat’s collar means your clue is on the move.

DIY Scavenger Hunt printable with scissors, roll wrap, a gift and ribbon |

Next, write your scavenger hunt riddles

Do it the easy way and use the list above and our already-written clues—just print them here and cut them out. Or use this blank template and write your own. Some hints for writing riddles:

  1. Make the challenges age-appropriate—simple riddles for little ones, more thinking and inside jokes for older kids, super-complex gotcha questions and bad puns for grown-ups.
  2. Decide whether it’s OK to have multiple potential answers for a single clue.
  3. Experiment with different ways to create your clues: Playful rhymes. Fill-in-the-blank descriptions. Illustrations. Limericks with the last word (and answer) left blank.

Pro tip

Take it from a professionally trained greeting card writer: Doing riddles in verse seems like a great idea until you get to the 10th one. Make it easier on yourself by choosing hiding places that are easy rhyming words.

DIY Scavenger Hunt printable being cut out |

Finally, hide your scavenger hunt clues

When you know where everything goes and it’s almost time to start the quest, put all your clues and the gift in place. Here’s how to make sure you’ve got the perfect spot for the gift:

  • The gift is unlikely to be discovered between the time you hide the clues and the hunt begins
  • The space is big enough to conceal the gift
  • You can’t see the gift by casually walking by it
  • If you want people to witness the discovery and unwrapping, there’s space in the area for the witnesses
  • Your pets will not find and eat the gift
  • Your big reveal will not be ruined if someone decides to start the dishwasher, turn on the dryer, or drive off with the car

DIY Scavenger Hunt clue #2 in a jacket pocket |

Pro tip

Here are some creative ways to make sure a clue stays put:

  • Use washi tape to attach the clue to flat surfaces—it removes really easily, so you won’t have to scrub off adhesive after the hunt.
  • Try clothespins and safety pins to stick the clue on curtains, pillows, and clothing.
  • Punch a hole in the top and add a string to tie it on like a tag.

DIY Scavenger Hunt clue #7 hidden in between books |

Excuses to do a gift scavenger hunt

  • It’s a really, really, really special gift.
  • You can’t find a gift bag big enough (not even this one).
  • The gift recipient loves a fun experience.
  • Your present is a really big surprise and deserves some drama.
  •  There are stories behind the gift, and you want to bring them to life.

DIY Scavenger Hunt clues cut out and laid out on purple surface |

One more thing: Don’t feel like you have to limit your gift scavenger hunt to one day, one house, or one city, even. Go big. And then tell us about it! Tag Think.Make.Share on Instagram.


Leave a Comment

  1. 11.4.20 | Reply
    Sara wrote:

    OMG. I do this every year now.