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treasure hunt free plans: Treasure Hunt Ideas
Basic Description Gifts are often wrapped in an attempt to incorporate an element of surprise into the gift-opening process. Unfortunately, after a few seconds, the contents of the package become known and the anticipation subsides. In the plan below, we show you how to extend and enhance the anticipation. Perhaps, more importantly, giving a gift via a treasure hunt injects a substantial dose of meaning into the process that is sure to be appreciated. Our extensive list of ideas will allow you to customize a hunt for anyone.

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Below we have listed many ideas that you can incorporate into the treasure hunt that you are creating. We have categorized the ideas into a few loose groupings. If you have any additional ideas let us know!

Methods of giving instructions

Paper: The simplest method of giving an instruction is to write it or print it on some paper. Paper instructions are easy to create, and you can put them virtually anywhere. If you do put the paper outside you will need to protect it from the elements. Also realize that paper is light, so it will need to be securely held wherever you put it. If necessary, put the note in a sealed plastic bag and perhaps an airtight container to ensure that the information will not be compromised.
writing clues on paper is the simplest way to provide instructions for the recipient
Shrinkable Plastic: Shrinkable plastics are available at many craft stores and via the internet. It goes by many different trade names including Shrinky Dinks, Shrink It and Poly Shrink. You simply write and/or draw on the plastic, cut it with scissors or a knife, and then put it in a preheated oven; it shrinks in a few minutes into a very durable plastic. One unique use of this material is to write a set of instructions and cut out a sort of jigsaw puzzle. You could hide the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in different locations that are described in an instruction; after all the pieces were retrieved and assembled the next instruction would be complete. Another use is to write an instruction very small; when you shrink the plastic, the writing is tiny but amazingly clear. You could stash a magnifying glass with one of the early steps instructing the recipient to keep it handy for an upcoming step..
Walnut Shell: Refer to our walnut shell project for all sorts of ideas with this one. You could hide an instruction in a walnut shell and then place it with several other walnuts; the recipient would have to crush open many of them before finding the instruction. Make sure that you put an little extra weight in the walnut along with the instruction so that it maintains the proper weight and feel of an ordinary walnut.
you can hide an instruction in a walnut shell following the plan given in our walnut shell project

Cryptography: While you may want to write the instructions clearly, you can add a level of complexity by encrypting the messages. A sample use of this idea would be: 'step 7 or 9 is written below, but to understand it you will need the decoder which can be found written on a sack of flour at your grandmother's house' etc. We have provided a simple decoder in the margin. Another code you can use is with symbol fonts on a computer. To create this type of decoder, just type the letters 'A' to 'Z' with an ordinary font and pair these with their 'A' to 'Z' counterparts in a symbol font. To create the encrypted message, just type in the symbol font and the recipient should be able to convert back. Make sure that you test your message before use, because it is very easy to make a mistake.
here is a simple decoding pattern
Film: A great way to extend the time of the hunt, if that is desired, is to write some instructions on a piece of paper and take a photograph of it. You can also take photographs of a location which will serve as the instruction. After taking pictures, you rewind the film and incorporate the roll into one of the steps; the recipient would have to have the film developed before resuming the hunt.
you can take pictures of notes or locations and require that the recipient develop the film to gain access to the instructions
GPS (global positioning system): If you know that the recipient has a GPS device you could send them from location to location picking up GPS coordinates that sends them to the next instruction. If you do this, be aware that although GPS units are increasingly accurate, you need to make several readings to confirm your location. After noting your location, walk away and then return and compare the coordinates. Repeat this several times until you get a feel for the coordinates so you can provide accurate information.
Public Sign. Another great technique is to create or complete a instruction by finding a public sign or other public information. You could for example say find the sign on Oak avenue in front of the library. Count the total number of letters on that sign and make a note of the number. Go to the park and stand by the swings: face north and walk the noted number of steps due north. The tree in your vicinity has a black rock and below it you will find your next instruction. Using public information can force your recipient to travel around town (or the country) collecting the requisite clues. Other related ideas: count the number of words on this page on this book that can be found in the library, count the number of rose bushes in the neighbor's yard: you can get as elaborate as you like.
you can incorporate information provided in a public sign into the treasure hunt

placement of instructions

Neighbors: Give an instruction to a neighbor or a series of neighbors. This works particularly well with jigsaw puzzle pieces as described in the shrinkable plastic section above. One piece would be given to each of a select group of neighbors that they need to visit to pick up pieces; after collect all of them, the puzzle would be completed and the completed puzzle would display the next instruction.
Underground: If you choose to put an instruction underground it is critical that the notice be placed in a watertight and airtight container. Avoid putting anything that would tip off the container to an animal (food, for example) because they will find it very quickly. It is best to put some sort of marker over the spot that the recipient will need to dig, such as an odd stone. You may want to have them discover a shovel in an earlier step to use when they need to dig.
Underwater: Here is a great way to introduce some complexity to the hunt. An underwater placement must be in a secure and watertight container. You could choose a brightly colored container and place it in several meters of water so that it would be a challenge to dive and get it. A few rocks inside the container should be enough to keep it submerged, and a few extra rocks, will make it difficult for the swimmer to hoist it up. One beauty of this idea is that you, the treasure hunt creator, doesn't even have to get wet - you can just drop the container from the surface, but make sure that it isn't too deep: we recommend tying a weight to a rope and testing the area to confirm the depth.
if you follow some basic guidelines, you can put instructions underwater
In Nature: Positioning an instruction out in nature can be particularly exciting. You can choose a random place that you describe properly, or put it at the top of a tall mountain or in a cave. As long as the area is not a highly trafficked area and the container doesn't contain anything that would attract animals, it should be fine. Use your creativity and utilize the geography that surrounds you. You can cover it with some rocks, fallen branches or other debris.
Online: If you are knowledgeable about the internet, you could use it for one or all of the steps. You could for example, post an instruction on a web page somewhere, and give the web address in one instruction. So, the recipient may have to look under a rock in the woods, and then reads that she needs to look at this particular address. You may want to create the page a particularly difficult address as shown in the margin to the right. The recipient would have to type the address correctly into the browser, but you can just click here.
if you have access, you can post a page to a difficult web address to serve as one step of the treasure hunt
Under and Within Furniture: We love to put instructions in places where the user frequents. It is particularly unnerving to find an instruction below the desk that they use everyday. You can often get away with such placements even in public places, for example a table at a restaurant or a library. Make sure that the furniture is stationary, though, because plenty of businesses rearrange, move and/or flip furniture for cleaning. A note placed to the underside of a fixed table almost never gets caught. Make sure that the tape you use is strong, and make sure that no one sees you placing it there: their curiosity may ruin your treasure hunt. There are all sorts of places within furniture that are perfect places to hide a note: underside of a drawer, taped on the back of a drawer back which may require removing the drawer first; under a mattress; in the refrigerator, inside the battery case of a electronic device, inside the sound chamber of a musical instrument etc.
In Clothing: Another great place to hide a note is in some clothing in their own closet. Choose something that they don't wear often and hide it in a pocket.
you can hide a note within some rarely-worn clothes in the recipient's closet
In a Pen: The bodies of some writing pens can be opened and you can slide a small note inside without it ever being noticed. To discover an instruction in a pen that they have been writing with is particularly unsettling.
In a Book: Slipping a note in a book in a library is a great way to hide instructions. You can put it within a book that has some particular meaning between you and the recipient. You can also write something like: 'check out the joke on page 271 of this book.' If the recipient is not expected to arrive at that step for a long period of time, placing a note in a library book is at risk of unintentionally getting discovered. You can also hide a note within a CD or DVD case.
Geographic Separation: This would be a more elaborate hunt that would require more planning, but you could create a hunt that requires travel all over the place. When you visited a city, you could plant some instructions and when you were in another location you could plant some more. Such a hunt could last for years or decades.
Written On Packaging: You could write an instruction set on the back of some packaging, perhaps a box of cornmeal. If there is a chance that it will take awhile for the recipient to get to that step, make sure that the packaging isn't something that is used very often or could be discovered before it was intended.

the gift itself

You can use this for any gift you want, but if you require a large amount of searching you may want it to be something real satisfying: that way the whole process will become very memorable.
Nested Boxes: To extend the anticipation just a little bit longer, you can put the gift in a small box, and put that small box in a larger box and so on. This will extend the time just a few more unnerving moments.

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