Monday, August 19, 2013

Beach Scavenger Hunt Birthday Party

Beach Scavenger Hunt Birthday Party

Great DIY Birthday Activity for Kids 2-12

Summer Days May Be Winding Down, But a Beach Scavenger Hunt Is a Hit Any Season!

There are tons of great places at which to host your kids birthday party these days, all of which provide the "fun" and "convenience" factor. Everything from the decorations to the activities to the clean-up can be coordinated and taken care of for you, and when you're talking about occupying large groups of young children, the option of holding your child's birthday at one of those places is certainly appealing, especially in the winter months when going outside isn't really an option. Believe me, in my mind, I'm already planning my winter baby's 4th birthday party at one of those facilities.

But it's the summer, and we spend our summers living in a beach cottage by the shore, and one of the best things about this lifestyle is the laid-back, down-to-earth mentality that comes with it. Life really feels different here. People seems more relaxed, the kids spend all day outside, and we're a bit removed, even if only a little, from some of the societal pressures and expectations that seem to be mounting on our kids these days. Don't get me wrong, it's not as if we're living off-the-grid, and there are plenty of mornings I let the TV linger on longer than I should, but in general, we try to live as simply as we can.

And, hey, it doesn't get much simpler than a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt and pizza party. So that's what we did for B1's 5th birthday party. A scavenger hunt on the beach. Now, a couple caveats before you read on. This probably isn't your run-of-the mill birthday celebration. We live in a neighborhood with lots of kids, really, really nice kids, and it doesn't seem to matter what their ages are, they all know each other and play together. So we invited all of them. I think there were about 18 kids in total, ranging from 2-12 years old. Some of the kids who ended up at the party we even inherited from neighbor's with friends visiting or renters who were playing on the beach. And I was totally okay with that. I made a couple extra shirts, just in case, and everything worked out fine. But remember, you've got to adopt that laid-back attitude to go with that, but if thinking about trying to be more laid-back is stressing you out even more (and I've been there, too), you can easily tailor this for a small, distinct set of kids (and obviously, you'd save some money, too)!

How to Throw A Beach Scavenger Hunt Birthday Party 


  • Two teams (basically we just went down a line and did the ol' "one-two-one-two" to divide into teams, making sure the oldest and youngest kids were dividing appropriately--it wouldn't have been fair to stack either team
  • 30 minutes to find their items. We gave them all copies of the list but made sure to read the list aloud so that the little ones and/or those who aren't fluent readers would know what to look for, too.
  • Grand Prizes: Well, pretty much, winners get bragging rights! And as it played out, that's all they cared about, what with pizza and cake on the horizon! At the end of the game, the teams came within 10 points of each other, a pretty narrow margin, if you ask me!


  • Team T-shirts: I got cute kids-size tank tops at Walmart for $2.47. There were some really little kids, too, so I got a couple Granimals tanks in toddler sizes for them. Not exactly the same color, but I was okay with that. The sizes were definitely a bit of guesswork, but I erred on the larger size, and definitely made a few trips to Walmart to switch out sizes, but everyone went home happy in the end. Then I screen-printed starfish artwork on all the shirts (find that post here). 
  • Team Buckets with Tools: Black mop buckets from the Dollar Tree with burlap ribbon from Hobby Lobby wrapped around (secured with hot glue), Rulers (Dollar Tree; 2/$1.00), Fishing Nets (our own).
  • Scavenger Hunt Items List: My primary goal was to keep them busy for 30 minutes, and this seemed like a perfect time period. We also switched it up a little here and added a "Photo" section. That part, especially, kept them busy for a while.
  • Noise-maker for Keeping Time: I had meant to pick up a whistle, but I forgot, so I asked B1 to find something that made noise, and she pulled out a tambourine from one of the toy baskets. Certainly nontraditional, but it worked! We shook it to start the hunt, at a 5-minute warning, and at the end of the 30 minutes.
  • Food: We ordered 6 large pizzas (round pies with 8 slices each), and that was plenty for the kids, with enough left for many of the parents to have a slice, too. We got them delivered, so that added to the convenience factor, and they provided us with plates and napkins (a nice surprise, although I had already purchased both!). I got two cases of mini water bottles and threw them in a cooler, and that was the perfect amount, too.


the following & collect in team bucket:

  • Driftwood under 6” long (1 pt.) 
  • Driftwood over 24” long (1 pt.)
  • Shell over 4 inches long (1 pt.)
  • Shell under 1/2 inch long (1 pt.)
  • Orange jingle shell (1 pt.)
  • Black/gray jingle shell (2 pts.) 
  • 3 different types of seaweed (1 pt. each) 
  • A shell with at least 10 barnacles on it (2 pts.)
  • A twig shaped like a letter (not the letters i/I or l/L) (3 pts.)
  • Crab shell or leg (4 pts.)
  • Sea glass (clear/white-1 pt.; brown-2 pts.; green-3pts., blue-4 pts.)
  • A rock shaped like a heart (5 pts.)

PHOTOGRAPH the following (1 phone only): 

  • Beachbug (1 pt.) 
  • Flip flops (1 pt.)
  • Moon jelly (2 pts.)
  • Flower (2 pts.)
  • Seagull (2 pts.)
  • 2 people from your team on the raft - weather permitting (3 pts.)
  • Someone from your team buried in sand (don’t cover face!) (3 pts.)
  • A sandcastle created by your team (at least 2 feet tall) (4 pts.)
  • A fish caught by someone from your team (5 pts.)
  • Photo of your ENTIRE team together on the beach (10 pts.)

*Bonus: 1 point per piece of garbage collected from beach
*Bonus: 20 Points if you complete entire mission

All-in-all, this was a really fun birthday party for everyone. I knew it would be tricky to occupy so many kids of all different ages, so I stuck to my old teaching-lesson-plan-motto: prepare for every last minute! And it worked. No down-time, just fun! Scavenger hunt, pizza, and cake. That's all it took. The whole beach even broke into an impromptu touch football game as the party was winding down and the sun was setting. And I can't get sick of this story: as we were cutting the cake, one of the little boys, in a tone that was heart-meltingly-genuine said, "This is the best birthday party ever." And that's all I needed to hear.

Linking up to:

Made in a Day

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  1. What a great idea for a family vacation! Thanks for sharing! Stop by my Friday's Five Features and link up this post (and others)!

  2. Thanks, Becca. I never even thought of taking the hunt "on the road!" Great idea! Something fun to look forward to on our next vacation :)

  3. A scavenger hunt game is really a great game to have for a children’s party. We know that in a party, not all children can get along immediately with other kids. But with this game, it will definitely break the walls of awkwardness between them. This is a wonderful idea; thanks for sharing!

    - Rosalinda Hone @ RiddleMe


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