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Little Detectives: How To Organise The Best Ever Kids' Treasure Hunt

Keep kids physically and mentally stimulated on the trail of treasure.

Treasure hunts are a great way to keep children entertained, whether as part of the celebrations for a birthday party or to ramp up the excitement on a trip to the park. If the weather isn’t on your side, don’t worry: your home still provides lots of perfect hidey holes - from inside shoes to under the bed.

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These tips and tricks will help you create a memorable hunt that challenges children - and rewards them with treasure.

Pick your place

Before you even start thinking up treasure hunt clues, you need to choose the best location for the number of children taking part in the hunt and to suit their ages.

For children aged two to seven, stage your hunt at home or in a smallish garden. You don’t want them to feel overwhelmed before their mission has even begun.

Big gardens or parks work well with larger groups of children, aged seven and upwards, particularly if they’ll be working in teams. Be very clear about where they are and aren’t allowed to go and have enough adults to help out and keep an eye on everyone.

For secondary school age children your local neighbourhood can be a great location for a treasure hunt using familiar landmarks for each stage of the quest. But do make sure everyone competing for the treasure is not too overexcited to be road and safety savvy.

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Pick a theme and format for your treasure hunt

The best and most challenging hunts require quite a bit of prep.

These are the decisions you need to make: individual prizes at each clue stop or one big prize at the end; traditional map and clues or each stop leading to the next; whether to divide into competing teams who have to work together to make it a free-for-all?

And finally, but perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to create clues pitched to the children’s age and understanding so they have a solid chance of solving them. For example, young children can be told to find the green flags, then the yellow, then the red while older children will enjoy solving riddles.

You can up the sense of occasion by getting everyone in costume: cheap eye patches and plastic swords for pirates; tiaras and fairy wings for fairy princesses; microscopes and deer stalker hats for little detectives.

If the treasure hunt is for a party, you’ll make the birthday boy or girl feel extra special by choosing their favourite theme. For example, a Harry Potter fan and his friends could wear cloaks and carry wands in ‘The Forbidden Forest’ with all clues relevant to the young magician.

Come up with exciting clues

The clues guide children from one location to the next and build anticipation for the big treasure. While it’s fun to include some in-jokes or memories for particular locations, the good news is you don’t have to be a poet or particularly creative to make rhymes and riddles like the ones used in the Cadbury Find The Freddo video below - just search online.

A treasure map with clues marked and handed to each team will add to the excitement for older children. You can add layers of difficulty: pieces of a jigsaw at each stop which assembled correctly reveal the final secret hiding spot or individual letters in a mystery word which spells out the final location.

Before you do the hunt for real, double check all the clues are in the right place and right order and you have adults on hand for helpful suggestions if needed.

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Amass some treasure

While the hunt itself will be fun, you don’t want the final reveal to be a disappointment after all the competitive urgency. You can create a small chest from a cardboard box and fill with chocolate gold coins and brightly wrapped jewel-like chocolates for a pirates’ treasure, give out individual Harry Potter golden snitch chocolate eggs or individual themed party bags.

It’s a good idea (especially for younger children) to give prizes for competing, not just winning, so no one finishes the treasure hunt empty-handed.

Happy planning!

The fun shouldn’t have to stop just because it’s raining. Make the most of a rainy day by organising some indoor adventure games, just like the family we featured in our Find The Freddo video. Once your games are over, surprise the kids with a special treat like Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddos. Choc-full of fun, delicious Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddos are made with fresh milk from British and Irish farms, for the perfect frog-shaped treat!