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Throw a Birthday Card Scavenger Hunt!

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There are two things I usually don’t do for kids birthdays: plan parties and buy cards. Horrible, I know, because isn’t that what kids want–parties?? What mom doesn’t throw parties or profess their love inside of a card?!

The main reason is that both are usually over-priced.

So when my son turned 8, I decided to do something that wouldn’t cost much at all:


Throw a Birthday Scavenger Hunt - Kid's Birthday Party Ideas


My oldest son was turning 8 years old. Once they reach this age, you can’t not do something awesome for them, right? They’re old enough to remember now ;).

Meet Kwabena, full of silliness and personality, this guy….



How to Throw a Birthday Card Scavenger Hunt!

Here’s how I set it up:

1. Buy a funny card!

If you know anything about 8-year-old boys, anything with bodily stuff is hilarious, so I knew he’d get a kick out of this birthday card :). The inside mentions something about having “class” and even if he doesn’t know what that is, it doesn’t matter.There’s a gorilla picking his nose. Need I say more??

2. Buy a bunch of little stuff that kids love.

I picked up a bunch of little stuff, including some Pokeman cards, which he loves, and some magnifying glasses for summer backyard bug-watching fun with his brothers….

Because he’s turning 8, I wanted a total of 8 gifts and 8 clues, leading back to his nose-picking silver back birthday card, in which I would hide his Pokeman cards, the gift he was most excited about.


3. Come up with funny little poems/clues.

I printed slips of paper with cute rhymes and taped them to scrapbook paper and cut them out. Don’t mind the “too” that got cut off in the first clue. Someone (ahem) got a little scissor-happy….

4. Wrap each gift individually.

(Shhhh…It looks like more stuff than it really is. Meaning, they get lots to unwrap!)

I wrapped each gift, then stuck a clue on each, with his card stuffed with 5 packs of Pokeman cards as the “Grand Finale” gift!

5. Send them off!

As soon as they wake up on their birthday morning, have them find the first clue! But do not….and I repeat…do not….leave their first clue where they can find it on their own. Meaning, they’ve got to come to Mom and Dad first to get the fun started. (Edited to add: I did a birthday scavenger hunt with my son when he turned 9 and stupidly left the first clue next to his bed. By the time I woke up, he had found and opened everything! I missed it all! LOL

P.S. Get siblings to help!


………….I have to say that one of the biggest squeals from all the gifts and clues was this homemade printed coupon for a SLEEP OVER WITH MOMMY AND DADDY. Notice the exclusion, though…. HA! If you want to print your own coupons for a scavenger hunt, try using Canva’s coupon templates.

When he found his card, he thought it was a riot! LOL. He was also super excited to find all those Pokeman cards in there! I’m pretty sure this was a look of “Wow! Thanks, Mom!” 😉


Tearing up the packs of cards:

I didn’t get too sappy…


Having him go on a birthday card scavenger hunt turned what could have been a “HERE-just-open-these” into an interactive, get-your-brain-cells-moving kind of celebration. And because I only paid $.97 for the card, I was able to buy more odds n’ ends for the hunt!




UPDATE: I’ve been doing scavenger hunts for my boys since my son was 8 years old, even for his younger brothers! These are the kind of family traditions that kids will remember. Hope your family enjoys them, too!

What other cool DIY kid’s birthday ideas do you have? Leave a comment below and share!



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  1. What a great idea! I may try this with the grandkids.

  2. Happened upon your blog from F.J.I. and I had to comment because this is what I did for my childrens’ Easter basket…we had a L-O-N-G, steep driveway and hints were always down the drive (which meant Mom had to go down the drive, wondering, at the time, why, but in the morning, knowing the reason…) Funny, the final hiding place was often the dryer (such a great place to hide things) but it is true, memories are made of these fun ideas.

    1. Oh man! The dryer!! What didn’t I think of that?? LOL. Your childrens’ Easter basket hunts sound like a lot of fun! And yes, I agree–these are the best kinds of family memories to have. And just think–our kids will likely pass on the tradition for their kids! Awww….that warms my heart. 🙂 Thanks for finding me! What’s F.J.I?

  3. I LOVE this!!! Such a fun idea… so much better than just handing them presents. I’ve started decorating the dining room and setting up cupcakes and ‘surprising’ the birthday girl/guy with a song and treat and their present. Whomevers birthday it is knows what is going on, but they’re not allowed to come downstairs until we’re ready. It’s a fun tradition even for us adults and my toddler loves getting surprised and surprising others. It doesn’t take much to make to do something special.

    1. That sounds like so much fun, Haley! Around our house, we used to not do much for Birthday recognition. A little cake and ice cream, but that’s it. But why not do fun traditions?! It is the things that people look back on and remember fondly. Isn’t that what life is about? 🙂 Definitely!

  4. What fun! I hosted small parties when my boys were young…usually ten guests including the birthday boy. One year my oldest was into Dora the Explorer, so I made little color-coded maps (each guest had a color), then cut them into five pieces. They had to follow an obstacle course (suitable for a six year old mind you) through the back yard. They had so much fun. I was the alligator near the wading pool wearing oven mitts and going chomp-chomp. I put other parents to work helping them get through the course. After they collected all five puzzle/map pieces, they assembled them and won a tiny treasure chest (about six inches in size filled with six-year old “loot”). They’re now 17 and 20 and enjoy getting Arco gas cards as a birthday gift. Enjoy these wonder-filled days, Serena. In a blink….

    1. Awww… Alys, how sad to think that one day they won’t want scavenger hunts and they’ll be happy with gas cards! Lol. I never knew what kind of family traditions we would have, but it’s fun to see what emerges. I would like to think these kinds of traditions can continue and that the only thing that changes are the gifts! 🙂 I went shopping for Kwabena yesterday and bought him things like new swim trunks (not Legos) and sandals (not Pokémon cards) and a new big-man’s bike (not a baby scooter). His uncle also bought him a Kindle Paperwhite reader, too! So while the gifts definitely changed (and were more expensive), he still enjoyed the scavegar hunt, thankfully! I’m hoping that they’ll look back on their birthdays and say to each other when they’re 50 years old, “Remembwr how Mom used to throw scavegar hunts for us?” ❤️

      Thanks for sharing your fun memory, too, Alys!

  5. What a FUN and clever idea!!! 😀 Totally love it and it looks like he really did too! #client

    1. My 4 year old is reminding me that HE wants a scavenger hunt, too! 🙂 I guess I better start planning for December. LOL

  6. Awwww love that 🙂 I wish someone would do that for ME at age 34!!

    1. Okay, Jay, I’ll hide all rare coins for you, with secret messages scratched into the metal. HA! 🙂 But yeah, it WOULD be a cool idea for an adult! Hmmm……

  7. Very cool idea, we are raising a grandson and we’ve had a party for him each year so far, I’m thinking he would love this, of course with a 5 your old I’ll make picture clues.

  8. I’m not a big birthday party/card person either but this sounds like the perfect alternative. I think I may just have to steal this idea when my guy turns 6. 🙂

  9. thats too cute, very innovative too. I will have to try that on one of my kdsi birthdays!

    1. What’s awesome is that you could do a card scavenger hunt for almost anything! Even when they get good grades or something! I think it just makes the whole process more fun than just handing them a card and saying, “Welp–here ya go. Open it.” LOL

      OH! I forgot to mention that one of the scavenger hunt gifts was a COUPON for a sleep over with Mommy and Daddy. I think he squealed the most on that one!! Go figure. LOL

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