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We’re planning to surprise Max with a trip to Universal Orlando, and because it’s pretty much all he’ll be getting for Christmas, we knew we wanted to figure out a way to make it more special then a simple wrapped box.
As Jamie and I talked about it, we both remembered scavenger hunts from our own childhoods. The year my parents sent my sister and I all over the neighborhood, collecting clues that would send us to the next location, and eventually we landed back in our own garage, where we found a pair of shiny new mountain bikes.
We had to come up with a way to execute a standalone scavenger hunt, because we won’t be at home. We’ll be visiting Jamie’s grandparent’s house, and we aren’t super familiar with the details and placement of things. The way we’ve set it up, it will work pretty much anywhere, and only a couple of clues are location-specific, but I think it’s a safe bet that we can find a broom and a toilet. We built it based on some props that relate to the movie, that we can a) easily transport to Florida in our luggage and b) we can set up in various places around the house to be discovered at the appropriate time.
We decided to use quotes from the books as our clues, so we spent a couple of evenings scouring the hardcovers for the perfect line to bring up our clues. While the first and last clues are set, the ones in the middle can be put in whatever order, so we’ll probably decide on that late on Christmas Eve, when we’re putting everything out.
You can download the typeset clue cards I created, or make your own. (The link will open Google Drive in a new tab) They’re set up 3 per page, and then you can cut them down to 3×5 size. If you want to create any additional clues or cards, use typeface HarryP, which you can download for free. There are a couple of blank card borders at the end of the PDF.
Scavenger Hunt Clues
The quote that we’re using is listed in bold, then how we’ll execute that quote and whatever its associated prop is. I basically went to the craft store with a vague list of ideas Jamie and I had brainstormed, and then wandered the aisles and Pinterest looking for ideas.
- Gryffindor Fat Lady
The first clue will be a greeting card that features the painting that sits at the door of Gryffindor tower on the front. The next clue, which is labeled #2 below, will be inside the card, along with a note explaining that it’s a scavenger hunt. Again, other than this one and the last one, the order isn’t specific, it’s just the order in which we came up with them.
- Expecto patronum!
I spotted these mini glitter reindeer and was instantly reminded of Harry’s patronus. You could also glitter your own little reindeer figurine if you find one.
This, said Wood, is the Golden Snitch, and it’s the most important ball of the lot.
When I suggested that had to have a Snitch, we first tried to figure out a non-edible solution, but this Ferrero Rocher idea, just using the candy with some attached paper wings, makes so much sense that couldn’t pass it up. Plus, the smallest box of the candy I could find leaves with about 10 extra, so someone has to eat them! 😉 I found these great wings on the Party Delights site. (You can download from them)
A Nimbus 2000, Ron moaned enviously. I’ve never even touched one.
This one doesn’t have a specific prop, we’ll just use the existing household kitchen broom
I’ll get yer an owl. All the kids want owls, they’re dead useful. Carry yet mail an’ everthing.
Aww, officially the first thing I bought when we first started talking about this trip! I picked up this cute white plush owl for a few bucks, thinking it would be a good stand-in for Hedwig.
Myrtle gave a tragic sob, rose up in the air, turned over, and dived headfirst into the toilet, splashing water all over them.
I’ll attach this image to the underside of the toilet seat. I printed the photo on inkjet transparency, to help give it the ghostly look of Myrtle, but it would work on paper as well.
Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. The mirror shows the most desperate desire of a person’s heart, a vision that has been known to drive men mad.
A simple paper printout that I cut out and will attach to a mirror somewhere in the house. Ideally not the same bathroom as where Myrtle is, but if needed, we can always switch up the order of clues to buy some time and add it after Myrtle is discovered.
A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform, packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express 11:00.
Obviously, it’s hard to attend your classes at Hogwarts if you can’t get there first, so a train ticket is a must!
It’s a Remembrall! he exclaimed. Gram knows I forget things, it tells you if there’s something you’ve forgotten to do.
You can find a tutorial to make your own Remembrall here. It’s SO easy to do, and I really love how it turned out.
Harry flung the prophecy across the floor, Neville spun himself around on his back and scooped the ball to his chest.
Another pretty easy DIY project, I’ve got all the instructions right here. It would also be a great prop for a Harry Potter Halloween costume!
They’re not birds! Harry said suddenly. They’re keys! Winged keys! Look carefully.
This clue was kind of a last-minute addition; we had just planned to tie the key to the box around the owl’s nack, but then I saw this cute little set of skeleton keys and had a whole new idea! This clue will lead to FIVE winged keys hanging from in the air, and he’ll have to try all five of them in the lock to find what’s in the box. This might be my favorite of the whole project!
- The treasure
OK, so this isn’t really a clue, but it’s the end of the hunt. Once he’s collected all of the keys, we’ll present him with a locked treasure box, which he’ll need to open. Learn more about the box and its contents in this post.