Is it time to say goodbye to summer already? Cue the collective groans. This summer — made even busier by a “post-COVID rebound” as restrictions have lifted — deserves its own special sendoff, one that everyone on your block can join in on.
How to put together a neighborhood scavenger hunt in 8 easy steps
If you haven’t gotten to know your neighbors yet (or have had limited contact due to recent lockdowns), now’s your chance.
Use these tips to create a memorable event:
1. Pick a theme for your scavenger hunt.
This is the fun part. When it comes to different types of scavenger hunts, there are options aplenty.
- Color scavenger hunt – Great for families with smaller children.
- Find & sketch scavenger hunt – A clever way to connect art and nature.
- Glow-in-the-dark scavenger hunt – Fun for teens and adults.
- Gratitude scavenger hunt – A sweet and fun option for all ages.
- Neighborhood bingo – Use it for a traditional bingo or go for a blackout.
- Photo scavenger hunt – Put those smartphones to good use.
- Rolling scavenger hunt – Helpful for those who are still social-distancing.
- Scavenger hunt app – Get a unique code to invite players to the hunt.
- Sensory scavenger hunt – A good excuse to explore outside.
- Stargazing scavenger hunt – Soak in the last of the warm summer nights.
The theme you pick will likely be influenced by the culture of your neighborhood. If you have more young families living nearby, color and sensory hunts may be popular choices. If your neighborhood’s age range is older, try out a nighttime or app-based hunt (or both). You could also customize your hunt to make it neighborhood-specific, including local businesses, landmarks, and signs.
2. Start a text thread or post to your neighborhood app/group.
Next up is spreading the word. If you have your neighbors’ numbers, use them. Send a group text gauging interest and determining which dates work best. If not, take the conversation online. Post to your neighborhood’s NextDoor app or Facebook group, if you have one. Alternately, you can go “old school” and drop off notes announcing the event, or knock and chat with your neighbors.
3. Choose the date and set guidelines.
Once you get a consensus — from your NextDoor post or neighborly conversations — select the date that suits most people. Update your app post with the official date and time, or create a new Facebook event. Add in guidelines for the hunt, while you’re at it — i.e., amount of people per team, time limit for completion, and which behaviors (like stealing) may lead to disqualification.
4. Announce a prize.
This is another fun part. Pick an affordable prize that will entice more neighbors to show up and participate.
- Cookie bouquet
- Gift card to a local restaurant
- Gift card to Home Depot
- Portable grill
- Tickets to the movies/local sporting event
- Toy basket
- Trophy (if the hunt is going to be annual)
Consider tiering the prizes — first, second, and third — to provide more incentive, as well as giving all kids a consolation treat. Make sure to post and hype up your prize on NextDoor/Facebook so that even the shyest neighbors come out.
5. Designate a ‘home base.’
Will it be your driveway, or will you set up shop at a local park? Let neighbors know on the event post where they should meet at the designed time. This is the spot where you’ll greet the participants, hand out the scavenger checklist, and blow the (literal or metaphorical) whistle to kick off the hunt. “Home base” is also where players will gather post-scavenge to tick items off lists and collect prizes.
6. Print out a checklist.
Print paper copies of your chosen scavenger theme (unless you’re using an app), or download our free Ultimate Checklist below. Have your lists ready to hand out to your neighbors as they arrive. To make it easier on yourself — especially if you’re expecting a large turnout — post the template for the checklist to your online event, requesting that neighbors print their own and show up with list in hand.
7. Set out refreshments.
Don’t make this a hunt-and-go-home kind of night. Entice your neighbors to stick around by putting out a table of snacks, drinks, desserts, and adults beverages, if desired. Again, if your event has grown in size, make things easy on yourself by asking each team to bring a drink or snack. At the very least, set out some prepackaged snack bags and a cooler of bottled water that teams can take on their trek.
8. Make a backup plan.
Expect the best, and prepare for the worst — particularly where weather is concerned. Have you thought about what you’ll do if a sudden rainstorm blows in? If rain is in the forecast, announce early in the day when the event will be rescheduled. Or, cross your fingers, ask participants to bring umbrellas and ponchos, and enjoy one of the last evenings of your summer.
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For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
Sources deemed reliable but not guaranteed.