15 Epic Treasure Hunt Prizes for Kids

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For anyone new to Dad Stuff, you should know that I’m a big fan of making treasure hunts for my kids. I love to create an epic story where they have to solve clues and ciphers to discover a special prize. 

But almost more difficult than figuring out how to do different treasure hunts (check out my Caesar Cipher, Ottendorf Cipher, and Book Cipher treasure hunts here) is coming up with a sufficiently cool final prize (the “treasure”). I can always give candy, but as any experienced parent knows, that usually causes more problems than it solves. 

I also don’t want to just buy them stuff. Not only do my kids have enough stuff, (how on earth did we end up with so many Legos?) I don’t need to raise entitled kids that expect presents all the time. Back in my day we never… (I’ll just stop there before the grumpy old man comes out again.)

Besides, I’m not made of money. And doing an activity with my kids shouldn’t always mean having to buy something. In fact, some of the most fun times we have as a family are often the times when we’ve spent no money at all. (And news flash…having kids can be expensive. Violin lessons anyone…?)

So I’ve come up with 15 that I’ve split into three categories: big surprises, everyday treats (the cheap to free stuff), and fun prizes. The price tags of these suggestions range from crazy expensive (but as you’ll read, it was something you were going to do anyway) to free. 

This article is originally from www.dadstuffsite.com

Learn more: 6 Secret Codes and Ciphers to Teach Young Kids

Big Surprises

These are the things that are the priciest, but they’re things you were already going to pay for anyway. I’m not suggesting you go out of your way to buy one of these prizes for completing a treasure hunt, but rather you are using a treasure hunt to lead to a big reveal of something already planned. 

1. “We’re Going to Disney World!!!” (Or Some Other Family Vacation)

You got your plans set for your Disney vacation (or some other family vacation), now you need to announce it to your kids. Print out a certificate from Canva with the classic “We’re going to Disneyworld!” (or wherever you plan on going) and have that as the final prize of your hunt.

2. Amusement Park/Water Park

This is a slightly downsized version of the family vacation. A much more realistic family day out (and you’re even cooler if you let your kids miss a day of school. Not that I’m suggesting truancy; that would be irresponsible of me…)

3. Tickets to a Sporting Event

Tickets to go see your favorite sportsball team is a great fun reveal, especially if it’s something your kids are super into or if it’s their first time. 

This article is originally from www.dadstuffsite.com

4. Reveal a New Baby Brother/Sister

Just to reiterate, this section is stuff you already had planned and the treasure hunt is a chance for a fun reveal. I am by no means suggesting you have a baby just to give your kids a prize for a rainy day activity. Just sayin’.

A variation of the baby sister/brother reveal is a gender reveal. 

5. Surprise Visit from Family

My kiddos love their out-of-town family and having grandparents come to visit is a huge treat. It’s also kind of fun to make my parents excitedly wait in another room while a 6- and 8-year-old slowly work out the clues to a coded message. It’s especially fun when they’re hiding and have to go to the bathroom…

6. “A New Car!!!” (or some other big purchase)

Okay, so not really a new car. But maybe a new bike, or laptop, or iPad. This is the large purchase you were going to give them anyway. Now you just have to give them a bit of a task to earn it. 

Everyday Treats (Cheap to Free)

Here is where we start exploring more creative outlets for prizes. These are the things that I love to do because a.) it’s cheap (have I mentioned I’m cheap?), and b.) are more family-centric. Obviously I love my family, and I love finding things that bring us together and help us to grow even closer to each other. 

7. “Rescue Their Favorite Stuffy”

Stuffed animal with a ransom note

Okay, so we gotta be careful about this one. We want to make sure your kids don’t think their stuffy is being held hostage. You don’t need to bring them to tears. Think of this as an adventure in which your kids get to be the hero and rescue their favorite fluffy friend.

8. Pie in My Face

A pie in my face

I mean, I would pay money to throw a pie in my dad’s face. And I’m 40… (one day I’ll grow up. Maybe.)

This article is originally from www.dadstuffsite.com

9. Bonus Tech Time

This is especially great if you need a longer morning/afternoon activity. Let them solve the puzzle (which is good for their brains) to give them more time to turn their brains to pudding playing games. It’s all about bringing balance to the force. 

10. One Free “Yes Day”

"Yes Day" written on a calendar

If you haven’t heard of a yes day, it’s essentially a day where the answer to whatever the kiddos ask for is yes. Sounds terrifying right? Here are some ground rules:

  • It cannot be anything dangerous or illegal
  • No screen time (or extra screen time)
  • There is a limited (to no) budget
  • No wishing for more wishes. It must happen in the present. Nothing for the future.

Fun Prizes

This is the area where you’re going to spend some money, but a reasonable amount. 

11. Movie Tickets

This works for a great family night out. Bonus: if they clean their rooms they can get popcorn. 

12. Pizza and Ice Cream

Let’s be honest, this is just as much for myself as it is for my kids. 

This article is originally from www.dadstuffsite.com

13. “Some Assembly Required”


I was inspired with this idea from the Office (Season 6, Episode 13) where Michael is Dwight’s secret Santa. The theme is “The 12 Days of Christmas,” and Michael gives Dwight a single piece of a mechanical-looking nutcracker every day for 12 days until he can finally assemble the whole thing for the big reveal. 

This time for our treasure hunt, each clue leads to a piece of something your kiddos can build. Options include a laser cut trebuchet (look this up), parts to a Kiwi Crate (affiliate link), or little baggies of Legos with the final clue revealing the instructions. 

14. Treasure Candy

I know, I said candy is problematic but hear me out. I’m not talking about a bag full of Halloween candy that was on sale (which let’s be honest, isn’t a bad idea), I’m talking about sugary pirate treasure: chocolate gold coins (link), candy necklaces (link), ring pops (link). 

You can go crazy and even get a small treasure chest and fill it up. Throw in some Mardi Gras beads for good measure. This is also great when you have a bunch of people who can share the candy, thus spreading out the sugar high. 

15. Subscription to an Online Game

I tend to be pretty mindful about the kinds of games and apps my kids use during technology time. We’re not a family of gamers (I know myself, and if I as an adult struggle to limit myself, it’s going to be that much harder for my kiddos).

That being said, they love Prodigy, and if the game they love to play helps them with math, I’m all for it. 

This article is originally from www.dadstuffsite.com

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Gregory Grabowski

Greg Grabowski is the principal creator of DadStuffSite.com, a website for dads by dads. Inspired by his two boys Ben and Sam and his wife Dianna, Greg loves to make things, learn things, and loves doing fun stuff with his family.

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