Wednesday, November 26, 2008 by Dave Blum

We live in a clue and puzzle culture, thanks in large part to the amazing popularity of The Amazing Race, National Treasure, The DaVinci Code and similar TV shows and movies.  The entertainment media has clearly latched onto treasure hunt clues and scavenger hunt lists for the fun, excitement and mental stimulation they provide for the viewer.  They know that we can’t resist the chance to “go along for the treasure ride” — for the vicarious thrills, the intriguing puzzles, and the chance to explore exotic locales.

But treasure hunts and scavenger hunts aren’t just for Hollywood.  We can use puzzles and clues in “the real world”, as well, in a variety of fun ways.  Here are some of my favorite scavenger hunt ideas and treasure hunt ideas, for ordinary folks like you and me.

1) Propose to your sweetheart:  Creating a treasure hunt that leads to an engagement ring is a truly memorable way to pop the question.  Each puzzle can be about your relationship; each clue location can be the site of a significant “relationship moment”.  After such a creative proposal, who could turn you down?

2) Spice up your anniversary: Sure, it’s nice to go out to a nice dinner on your anniversary.  But why not write a treasure hunt that leads to that restaurant…or to a series of your favorite places?  My wife do a hunt for each other every year, on the anniversary of our first date.  To read more about our tradition, click here.

3) Hold a fundraiser: Like I said, everyone enjoys a good treasure hunt…and they’ll pay for the opportunity to play, especially if there’s a good cause involved.  So create a hunt and donate the profits to your favorite charity or non profit.

4) Roll out a product or service:  Here’s a scavenger hunt idea for you business folks: the next time you’re launching a product or service, do it with clues.  Just last year we were approached by a major soda maker about promoting their new canned six-backs. I think they called it “The hunt for the golden can”…sort of like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, one of my favorite movies growing up.The plan was to was plant special cans all around the country, reachable by clues.

5) Hide Stuff: This last one comes from an 8th-grade student at the De Marillac Academy in San Francisco, who attended one of our Help-A-School Treasure Hunt programs.  When asked how she would use her new puzzle-writing skills, she said, “When I’m in trouble and my parents are going to confiscate my phone, I’d hide it first and make them solve clues to find it.”   Clever!

Let me know how else you’ve used clues and puzzles!  The possibilities are limitless.