Sam had a hard time picking a party theme for this year’s birthday, and I worried he might be getting too old for that sort of thing. Luckily a quick Google search for 11-year-old “tween” birthday parties saved the day. Two ideas came to the top of his list: Minute-to-Win-It Games or an Amazing Race scavenger hunt. He picked the Amazing Race (despite never watching the show) and it turned out to be an amazingly fun choice!
Whether or not kids are familiar with the show, the concept of a timed scavenger hunt gets them excited.
First and foremost I must give credit to Mom of 6, a blog where I found 90% of the ideas and inspiration for Sam’s party. I highly recommend you visit her blog and see all the wonderful templates and ideas she offers for the Amazing Race theme! (I can’t say how grateful this Mom of Two is to Mom of 6 for sharing her party ideas!)
First up was creating the invitation. I downloaded the Microgramma font to match the Amazing Race logo as closely as possible:
Instead of a traditional birthday cake, Sam requested his grandma’s chocolate cupcakes with fudge frosting. We did our best to make the cupcakes fit the theme by adding Amazing Race flags and using bright yellow cupcake liners. Sam organized the flags and was proud of the finished product, which is all that matters.
Before the race we gave each team a roll of streamers that matched their team color and let them decorate each other. It was a great way to build the anticipation!
I’m so glad we took group and team photos before the race:
The bulk of my Amazing Race party planning was spent designing the “race course.” What would the kids do? Where would they go? What choices would be made? What would they build?
The Morse Code joke for the Detour card can be downloaded here. (It reads: Why did the boy put candles on the toilet? He wanted to have a birthday potty!)
I placed the cards in numbered, color coded envelopes. All teams received the same clues, but the order was random to prevent log jams. The different colors helped us keep everything straight throughout the race.
The “Shoe Patrol” was the starting point for all teams. If the party attendees vary in age, you can scatter the older kids’ in more difficult places to find.
I do have one piece of advice for the Shoe Patrol: make sure your puppy doesn’t think she’s part of the game!
Building the marshmallow shooter was much harder than we realized (even for adults) so we were pretty lenient about how close the bucket needed to be to the shooter. As long as you have consistent rules for each team, it’s fine to wing it as you go.
The nature scavenger hunt was a favorite, but the boys had a heck of a time finding an insect! First they tried to sneak in a spider, but our savvy judges were too smart for that. Dejected, the boys headed out again, only to return with little white dots they claimed were fly eggs. Rejected again! Finally they came back with a beetle, and were granted their next clue!
It was especially fun to watch the teams navigate the Detour card. The baby food was disgusting, but they could get it done fast. The Morse Code took much longer, but spared them the gross factor. All of the teams initially opted for baby food, but Sam nearly puked after one bite of green beans so his team had to switch to Morse Code!
We kept it very low key and tried to avoid too much competition, instead focusing on the pride of completing each task. It was fun to hear the teams compare their experiences, since they all got tripped up at different spots along the way.
Everyone’s post-race prize was the same: spaghetti and cupcakes. Racers need carbs, right?!
Sam kept his guest list small, which made this theme manageable. We hosted a sleepover and the next morning the kids were still giggling about their Amazing Race escapades. Best of all, our birthday boy had a smile on is face the entire night.
Happy 11th Birthday to our amazing son Sam!