Fouad Alaa explains how to make a truly memorable gift – a treasure hunt – for your Valentine.
The First World Guy problem when it comes to Valentine’s Day is always presentation.
Buying a gift is pretty simple. You just think of something that your partner would like (I said simple NOT easy), find it and buy it. However, what separates a guy from the herd when it comes to gifts is presentation. In my Guide to the Perfect Valentine’s Gift, I talked about how to think of a gift depending on what type of gift you think would be appreciated by your girlfriend. And this is how I came up with the idea of a Valentine’s Day treasure hunt.
A few years ago I was doing a National Treasure Marathon just a week before Valentine’s Day when I had the idea about having a treasure hunt as a special activity for Valentine’s. Given that I never been to any sort of treasure hunt before, I was pretty excited about the idea and the more I thought about the details, the more the idea itself seemed multi-purposed and unique.
Here is how it’s done.
The idea is simple. You need to place cards with the name of a chosen destination coded on one side of it, and on the other a clue that hints to the next check-point. The check-points preferably should be considered as landmarks for the relationship or a place of sentimental value. For example, a favourite restaurant, the first date activity places or any place that hold a romantic sentiment, the weirder the better! Make the last destination left for the Gift location. Sounds pretty simple but, the romantic value is in the details.
To be honest, I have no idea what so ever what it’s called. It consist of a list of rows, each row consisting of 3 separate numbers, that together corresponds to a letter on a text of your own choosing. For example, if you have a word that you want to code, the first step is picking a text book as a key to the code. Pick the first letter of the word and search for it anywhere in book. Write down the number of page, paragraph and letter of that letter in a row, with each separated by a “-“and you will have something like this XX-XX-XX. Here is how the word YOU would be if coded:
I love you might look like this:
XX-XX-XX XX-XX-XX XX-XX-XX
So keep the clues simple and use small words!
Pen and paper for a letter.
Any relatively cute set of rectangular cards about 7×12 in dimensions. (the cute part is optional)
Scroll holder (optional)
A gift! (not so optional)
Preparation level = Newbie
The decision: Decide the number and location of destinations of the treasure hunt, with the final destination as the gift’s location.
The letter: Write a love letter to your girlfriend or wife (keep it short, the content does not matter as long as it is at least … nice?) and try to make it contain all the letters of the alphabet.
The clues: Come up with clues for the destination, starting from the first one after the meeting point. Be creative, make a rhyme about the place or something you did there as a clue. But DO NOT make it hard, the code takes time to decipher. And to avoid them giving up just make it a lame rhyme joke that can be too obvious.
The codes: Write the clues on one side of the cards, and on the other side write the code for the name of the check-point location.
The “treasure”: Place the gift in the box and place it in the desired location.
The cards: Place all the cards in (hidden) locations in each check-point.
Aaaand you’re done.
Preparation level = Romeo
The perfect place to start the hunt should probably be the first place you met your girlfriend, so that you would start where you started (I know right :D). If it is a whole day activity make sure that some of the check points are for lunch and a nice dinner. No one can enjoy much of anything on an empty stomach.
A love letter for the treasure hunt should not be more than 200 to maximum 500 words. If it is long, the decoding process of clues will be longer and borderline boring. As a final touch I placed it in an “ancient” looking scroll holder to fit the theme and seem more authentic.
Example for a clue: It all starts where it started (first date place), clowns and fatties (McDonald’s).
Make the code words as simple as possible so they won’t look frustrating when in code form.
For the box, I made a hand-made wooden box that opens the same way as jewellery box. As a final touch I sanded it, and with a knife I started randomly scratching it so it would seem “older” and fit the theme of treasure hunting. As for the cards I made them from hard carbon and painted them in maroon with the code and clue written in black.
The treasure hunt is a fun and romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day that would suit different types of personalities. It would appeal to girls who like challenges since there would be cryptic codes and a bit of figuring out, or girls who like romantic dinner since one of the check points would be for the main dinner, and girls who like excitement since it is a whole day or night suspense activity. The whole point of Valentine’s Day is that for one day a year, a couple would go out and do something fun together. And at the end of the day the combination of a simple thoughtful gift, a symbolic “trip” together through memory lane, and a nice meal can revive any long term relationship back to its original form. And for a couple who has not been dating for long, it is the perfect romantic kick start that can be an amazing story to tell about that one Valentine’s Day where you went on a romantic treasure hunt.