Treasure Hunts – Tips on Writing Clues

People always ask us what makes our treasure hunts and clues “wildly different.” Our short answer is usually, “We don’t just tell you to look at a sign and tell us what the third word is. You have to work for it!”

 

For those of you who want to know what we do to create unique treasure hunts and clues, here are some tips. We:

 

Make the treasure hunts and clues challenging…but not too challenging

If you make clues too easy, participants will get bored easily. Make the clues too hard and they’ll get exasperated and give up. You want the Goldilocks of treasure hunts – make the clues just right! Know your audience. We’ve created a lot of family treasure hunts and they are easier than our treasure hunts for corporate groups. You’ll know you have it right when people claim, with a big smile on their face, that they were stumped at first. But, they were able to solve it in the end.

 

Incorporate props into the treasure hunts and clues

A lot of our treasure hunts and clues incorporate puzzles on paper. But, don’t forget to throw in some props as well. People love to play with “stuff.” For instance, a puzzle on paper may find teams having to read letters on a page backwards instead of forwards. But, how cool is it to step it up a notch and make them find a mirror, so they can see which letters in a phrase don’t get reversed to solve the clue? Or, to make hunters do a physical challenge before they’re handed the mirror they need to solve the clue?

Props for treasure hunts

Messages in bottles are perfect props for pirate treasure hunts

Pirate treasure hunt clues

The bag doesn’t just hold treasure hunt clues…it IS a clue!

 

Integrate the event area into our treasure hunts and clues

There’s no sense creating treasure hunts in cool places like a theme park, city center or park and not spotlight the area. For instance, a tower sculpture with different color blocks can become the key to unlocking a cipher clue. I.e. if the top block is blue, then hunters know the word written in blue on their clue page is the first word in the solution. A word of warning though. It’s best if all clues can be solved from walkways/outside. Don’t require hunters to go inside stores. You don’t want to upset store owners and other shoppers. And, if in a theme park, don’t make hunters go inside an attraction or on a ride to solve a clue. Long lines will frustrate them and could prevent them from finishing the hunt in the time allowed.

treasure hunts on location

Make your event area the star of your treasure hunts!

Reinforce your message with the treasure hunts and clues

We love taking company information and weaving it into our treasure hunts and clues. Not sure if your group has retained training information? Put it to the test by ensuring the only way hunters can solve the clue is by knowing that information. For instance, in what year a product was launched, or what a side effect of your product may be. This goes beyond simple question and answer or multiple choice. Utilize the information in a unique way and it will become even more memorable.

 

Weave a theme into the treasure hunts and clues

If you’re creating a Christmas hunt, make all the clues tie into the theme (see our sample clue below). But, it doesn’t have to be a holiday to have a theme! Hosting your hunt in a park? Incorporate a nature theme. Or, borrow a theme from popular culture. Chances are good that a hot movie will provide inspiration. It could be spies, pirates, aliens – you name it!

Themed treasure hunts

Having a theme enhances treasure hunts

We’ll be posting a new clue each month for those of you who would like to see examples of fun treasure hunts and clues. See if you can solve them first before looking at the answer. Happy hunting!  And, if you don’t want to write your own treasure hunts and clues, visit our site to see what we can offer!

 

Sample Clues

 

Clue #1

Christmas treasure hunts clue

Clue #1 – Posted December 16, 2016

Clue #1 is a sample of a Christmas Hunt we created for families to play at home.

Answer to Clue #1 – If you change the letter below the hat to something Christmas-themed, you get snow, candy, canes, toys and star!  When you put the new letters together, they spell out Santa.

Clue #2

treasure hunts sports clue

Clue #2 – Posted January 16, 2017

Clue #2 is a sample of a sports-themed hunt we created for families to play at home.  The solution to each clue took them to a location where they could find their next clue.

Answer to Clue #2 – Instead of numbers, there are letters on the jerseys.  Where do you find letters?  In the mailbox of course!  And, that’s where player’s next clue could be found.

 

Clue #3

Treasure Hunts Clue Puzzle

Clue #3 – Posted February 10, 2017

Clue #3 is an example of treasure hunt clue we use in our Epic Selfie Quest.  Teams must solve the clue to reveal where they need to take a team selfie.

Answer to Clue #3 – Each letter of the alphabet stands for a number.  When teams crack the code, it spells out “Take a photo of your team interacting with a sculpture.”