|The treasure box.|
I kept my preparation time reasonable by avoiding things liked decorating a cake, mailing invitations (I just emailed people), or anything fancy besides the treasure hunt itself.
I told all the invitees to bring shovels.
My mother gave us an old hinged wooden box. (Key point: It got really dirty, so it wasn't something she was attached to.) I filled it with foil-covered chocolate and a few cheap plastic beads.
I bought the chocolate coins in the bulk candy aisle at Wegman's. They have the advantage of being real chocolate, unlike some other candy money, and they're less expensive per pound than the little individual bags of chocolate-y coins for sale elsewhere.
In advance, I made a treasure map that roughly represented our backyard. I decided to locate the treasure near the badminton net, so that it would be easier to find. There are all kinds of neat ways to age paper, but I didn't have time to do more than singe the edges with a match and sort of rumple it.
We were perhaps a bit too ambitious and decided to bury the treasure box (wrapped in a scrap piece of cloth to protect the wood) about a foot deep. We wanted to make the kids work for their treasure!
|The treasure map. Naturally, X marks the spot.|
I wrote a few clues and hid them around the house. They were simple clues like, "Look in the coldest place in the house," or "Look under the couch cushions." Each clue led to the next one, with the final clue leading to the treasure map.
Once the treasure hunt started, the kids were excited as they raced around the house looking for clues. Since some of the children could read, they didn't need much adult help. They found the map under the fruit bowl.
That was a good moment.
|Finding the map.|
Then they ran outside with their shovels! Fortunately, the kids were able to figure out how to interpret the map, more or less. There may have been some adult guidance here, when we realized how unfortunate it would be to have a bunch of extra holes in the backyard that didn't yield any treasure.
|Following the map.|
|Starting to dig.|
|There was a lot of digging.|
As I mentioned it before, we probably dug the hole a little too deep. At some point, my husband started scooping out big shovelfuls of dirt, because the digging process was taking so long. In the end, the difficulty they had digging down to the treasure probably added to their excitement when the box was finally unearthed.
That was a very good moment.
At just five years old, Johnny may have already peaked as far as birthday party fun goes. I can't see myself doing something equally cool in the future.