Halloween Treasure Hunt Ideas

Treasure chest with text for Pinterest Treasure chest with text for Pinterest

This Halloween get a group of people together to do a Halloween treasure hunt around your neighborhood or at a nearby park! It’s the perfect way for families to enjoy this Halloween safely while still loading up on yummy treats!

Treasure chest with text for Pinterest

Halloween 2020

If your neighborhood Facebook group hasn’t asked are people trick or treating yet, is it even 2020? Halloween this year is going to look different than past years.

Facebook thread about trick or treating

With the recommendation to avoid door to door trick or treating, I’ve been trying to come up with fun ways to still give families some Halloween excitement and Halloween treats without the risk of passing along germs.

After looking through all of the Halloween guidelines for this year, I came up with three versions of a Halloween treasure hunt that would be both fun and safe! Great for groups of friends, families, and neighbors who want to participate in a fun activity together.

It’s so fun, it may just become a new Halloween tradition!

You can either do this on Halloween (it’s Saturday, which is perfect) or any other day that the group all agrees on. Add it to some other fun Halloween games or do it in lieu of any of these other Halloween party ideas . You could even add it onto this fun Halloween group text scavenger hunt with the same group of people.

Anyway, I digress. The basic idea is that you’ll be setting up a Halloween treasure hunt with your neighborhood (or group of friends), sending out clues, and having people find treats based on those clues throughout the day rather than all going at once like you might in a traditional Halloween scavenger hunt .

How to Play

We came up with three different versions of this Halloween treasure hunt depending on who’s participating and how close you live to one another. The setup is very similar for all of them with a few notable differences.

I’ve included a basic setup that works for all of them plus special notes for each below.

1 – Invite Friends

Invite as many of your neighbors or friends as would like to participate. We recommend at least 4 families but you can play with as many as you’d like. If someone wants to play, make sure they confirm and actually agree to play – you don’t want to have people who will flake on the activity.

Either start a group text, Facebook chat, or some other group chat with the entire group – this will be your source of communication for the group and is important!

2 – Make Your Treasure

Every group should buy or make a candy box (I love this treasure chest ) that can withstand the elements in case it’s super hot or cold when you do the activity. Fill the box with enough Ziploc packets of candy/goodies for everyone participating in the hunt.

And when I mean everyone, you can do one of two things – if you have four families playing, you could do one larger Ziploc per family, or you could figure out how many actual kids/participants there are and do smaller bags of treats for every individual (so 20 for instance if there are 20 kids).

3 – Hide Your Treasure

Pick a day when everyone can participate in the treasure hunt and select a time when everyone needs to have their treasure hidden. Where treasure will be hidden is based on what type of treasure hunt you’ve selected – three types below!

Halloween would be perfect since it’s a Saturday this year, but you could totally do the weekend before as well. And I recommend having people get things hidden in the morning (say 11AM) so people have the rest of the day to hunt.

4 – Hunt for Treasure

At the designated time, have everyone share their clues (see instructions below for details on clues) with the entire group.

Families should then use those clues to go find the treasures hidden throughout the area – even better if people dress up in costume to make it more fun! When you find a treasure, just grab one (or one per person) bag of treats then move onto the next one.

If for some reason people can’t find a treasure box even with the clues, I recommend they send a text or message directly to the person who wrote the clues to get help. That way they don’t ruin it for the rest of the group who may not need additional help with the clue.

Baby getting a treasure box out of a swing

5 – Clean Up

After all the treasures have been found, everyone should return to pick up their treasure boxes and any remaining treats. And families can enjoy the goodies they picked up on their fun Halloween treasure hunt!

Three Halloween Treasure Hunts

The main difference between these Halloween treasure hunts is where you’ll hide the treasure and how you’ll write your clues to guide people to the treasure. I’ve included some examples below for each to help you get started!

#1 – Neighborhood Treasure Hunt

In this version of the treasure hunt, everyone hides their treasure outdoors somewhere in their yard. Each neighbor should come up with a telling one word clue that will give people an idea of where to search.

Just like I mentioned above, pick a day for people to search and have their treasure hidden by. Then at the designated time, everyone should send in their one word clues and families can search throughout the day – hopefully avoiding groups gathering at any one house.

Best For: Neighbors who live close to each other.

Clue Example : Dead (might be hidden by a skeleton, a dead tree, a tombstone, etc.)

Treasure chest in a baby swing

#2 – Treasure Map Treasure Hunt

In this version of the treasure hunt, everyone will hide their treasure somewhere in a local park that is fairly close to all of the participants. You want it to have some forest areas for hiding your treasure boxes.

This hunt works best on a weekend so that families have a few hours to search for treasures in the park. Pick a day and a time for families to have their boxes hidden by – then ideally people would be able to start searching right after.

So for example, do a 11AM start time so people can go hide their boxes beforehand then get started searching right away and have a few hours to search before needing to eat dinner, etc.

Clues for this type of hunt should be a set of written clues that develop a written treasure map and leads people to the location. For example:

  1. Start at the bottom of the curly slide.
  2. Walk 50 paces to the south.
  3. Step over the creek.
  4. Behind the largest tree.

Or another example at a park with frisbee golf course.

  1. Start on the tee box of hole 12.
  2. Walk halfway to the creek.
  3. Take 15 paces into the woods straight to the west.
  4. Search near the biggest evergreen tree.

Best For: Group of friends not in the same neighborhood

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Clue Example: See above

#2 – Treasure Map Treasure Hunt

This third type of treasure hunt is similar to the treasure map version except instead of giving written out map clues, you will be given GPS coordinates so this one is more like geo-caching!

This hunt works best on a weekend so that families have a few hours to search for treasures in the park. Pick a day and a time for families to have their boxes hidden by – then ideally people would be able to start searching right after.

So for example, do a 11AM start time so people can go hide their boxes beforehand then get started searching right away and have a few hours to search before needing to eat dinner, etc.

Clues for this type will be exact GPS coordinates where the treasure is hidden PLUS a one word clue (similar to the first version of the hunt) since GPS coordinates aren’t always perfect. Families will then have to find those GPS coordinates to find the treasure boxes.

How to Find GPS Coordinates:

  • Apple Maps – Launch Apple Maps, tap the location arrow in the upper right corner of the screen, tap the blue dot on the screen (that’s your location). Swipe up on the screen to see your GPS coordinates. Write them down and send them as your clue.
  • Google Maps – Open the Google Maps app and tap the bulls-eyes target for “My Location.” Press and hold your finger on your location for more details. Your GPS coordinates will show up first then the address.
Apple Maps screenshot with GPS coordinates circled
Where to find GPS coordinates in Apple Maps app
Where to find GPS coordinates in Google Maps app

Best For: Group of friends not in the same neighborhood

Clue Example: 38.909366 -94.856321 SWING

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What to Hide

The most fun part of this entire treasure hunt for me is always coming up with fun things to put in my treasure box. Since this one is Halloween themed, you could do any of the items I talked about in this You’ve Been Booed post. Or you could just do treats – I recommend wrapped candies only, no homemade treats (as much as I love sharing these Halloween Rice Krispy treats ) unless everyone is comfortable with that.

If you’ve doing bags for the entire family to share, you could do some candy and then add in something fun like this Werewolf Game or any of these Halloween items that kids will love.

One thing to note is that if you’re doing bags for individual families (rather than people), I recommend labeling them with names if you’re not going to do the exact same number of things in them. For instance, one of my neighbors has five kids and one has one. We’d likely do more treats in the one for the five kid household than the other – in that instance, I recommend adding family names.

Or just go the easy route and do a small bag of treats per person. Definitely easier that way!

Treasure chest full of Halloween goodies

Expert Tips

Download a compass app to help with the treasure map treasure hunt idea. It’ll help with any directional clues!

Encourage people to search throughout the day rather than all at once, especially in the case of the neighborhood treasure hunt. Make sure everyone knows there’s enough for everyone and the first person won’t be rewarded any more than the last.

Pick a time that works well for everyone. Talk about it beforehand and make sure you aren’t choosing a time in the middle of a soccer game, someone working, etc. This will help ensure all clues are sent out at once and ready to go.

Pack Ziploc bags of the same treasures for everyone so people don’t feel the need to search through the treasure box to find something they like more. This will help keep less hands on the goodies.

Hide your treasure boxes out of plain sight when you’re doing this at a park. You never know who will get into a treasure box that’s just sitting somewhere people can see. Keep it hidden so the treasures stay put!

Game FAQs

How many people can play?

As many as you want – just remember that you need to provide bags of treats/goodies for every group or person playing so the more playing, the more you’re buying (and getting).

What if I can’t find a treasure?

Reach out directly to the person who hid it and ask for help. This way other players searching won’t be given additional hints they didn’t ask for.

How do you do a Halloween treasure hunt?

If you’re looking for riddles that lead to Halloween treasure, you’ll want to check out this Halloween scavenger hunt that comes with clues!

More Halloween Activities for Groups