Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pirate Treasure Hunt!

My nephew just turned 8 and I needed an inexpensive and creative gift for him. He is really hard to shop for but like most boys his age, he loves Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I decided to do a treasure hunt for him that would include a lot of different elements. It started with a letter, followed by clues, which led to a map, and ended with buried treasure! Here's what you will need:

* Plain treasure box
* Acrylic paints
* Watercolor paint or shoe polish (optional)
* Paint brushes
* Leftover thin cardboard
* Faux crushed velvet fabric or scrapbook sheet
* 1 sheet fancy scrapbook paper
* Gold paint pen
* Pirate themed items for treasure chest
* Brown lunch sack
* Black fine tip pen or marker


For the outside: I started with this plain box I bought from Michaels for around $4.99. I painted the outside (everything but the "straps") with semi-gloss black acrylic paint. After the paint dried, I added a thick layer of acrylic crackle paint. Then I used watercolor paint to paint the "straps" of the chest. You could use acrylics instead if you like. I chose to use water color paint because it layers nicely and gave the chest more of a worn leather look. If you use acrylic, I would recommend a little bit of black or brown shoe polish on the straps after the acrylic dries to give the straps an aged look. Lastly I used a gold paint pen to add the look of brass nails in the straps.

For the inside: I painted the remainder of the chest black with a flat acrylic paint. Then I cut the thin cardboard into 5 pieces that would fit the sides and bottom of the bottom half of the chest. I cut the cardboard down about an inch so that some of the black I painted would show on the inside of the chest. Also, this will keep the cardboard from overlapping the chain that is built into the box. Then I wrapped the velvet pieces around each of those pieces of cardboard and just taped them into place on the backside. Then I used a hot glue gun to glue the pieces into place. For the lid, I simply glued in a piece of decorative scrapbook paper that was cut to fit the lid.

Here are pics of the finished chest:

Filling the Treasure Chest: Now you need to fill the chest! I made a simple drawstring pirate pouch out of scrap black fabric I had laying around. I put an applique I made (although you could buy one like this) on the front. Here is the size notations:
I filled the pouch with chocolate gold coin candy and chocolate gold nuggets. The pirate pouch goes into the chest along with any other pirate-themed gifts you can come up with! I added a necklace I made out of skull beads and a novelty skull ring. I also added an eye patch, pirate and skull stickers, and a few real dollar bills.

The Treasure Hunt Clues: Now for the treasure hunt part! I have already made out a list of clues for you. Download the clues here. The first page is a "letter" from Captain Longbeard to the child(ren). Crumple the page at least 5 or 6 times and then flatten it out (I used a really low setting on my iron with no steam that way it didn't take away the wrinkles). Next, carefully burn the edges with a match or lighter so that the letter looks old. Roll the letter up and tie it with some string and place in a bottle. I used an old, brown beer bottle that I cleaned out and removed the labels from. **Warning: My nephew broke the bottle within in seconds of removing the letter.** I would recommend buying some type of plastic bottle instead like this one. They are less than a dollar a piece at craft stores. Another suggestions would be to fold the letter and place it in an old looking envelope with a wax seal or a decorative sticker to seal the envelope. Cut the rest of the clues apart from the remaining sheets and tie them up with string. I recommend writing the clue number ont he outside near the string as you roll each one up so you don't get confused. Then download the master location list and print. Use this to write down the hidden locations and to help you remember where to place each clue. The last clue will lead you to the location "under the bed", this is where you will want to hide the treasure map that will lead the child(ren) to the final treasure location!

The Treasure Map: Figure out where you will hide the treasure chest. I wrapped my treasure chest in some extra black cloth and loosely tied it because I buried my chest in the sandbox! I marked the location with two twigs to form the "X". Be sure to hide the chest and then draw the map, it is easier. Now that the treasure chest is buried, it's time to draw the map! Cut the bottom off the brown lunch sack paper and cut it along the back seam. Lay it flat and cut it down to the size you want for your map. Take a fine tip black marker and draw out your map. Here is a cheesy drawing to help you visualize it since I forgot to scan the one I made for my nephew before I hid it! That image should give you the general idea anyway. Keep the drawing simple. It doesn't need to be difficult what-so-ever. The point of the treasure map is more for the "authenticity" of a true pirate treasure hunt than to actually be difficult. You can distress the map after you have drawn it out if you like. I just crumpled mine up a lot, then ironed flat as I did with the letter from earlier, and also burned the edges to make it look old. Lastly, make sure to mark the area where you hid the treasure with an "X"!! And that is it, you're done! Now just sit back and enjoy watching the child(ren) have a lot of fun!

Here is a pic of my nephew opening his treasure.