Typically thought of as a party game a list of items is prepared and the participants must find said items on the list as quickly as possible or collect as many things as possible, this is normally done in small teams or as individuals. There are many variations of the game in which there are tasks on the list, and they need to be completed as creatively as possible or photographs need to be taken with the participants and the items listed. A treasure hunt is different from a scavenger hunt because they require things be done in a certain order and seeks desirable objects whereas the objects associated with a scavenger hunt are normally useless objects and the order is of no importance.

Having evolved from ancient folk games, scavenger hunts were popularized in the United States in the 1930’s by Elsa Maxwell who held exclusive parties in New York. The New York craze was even exhibited in the film My Man Godfrey, in a very satirical form the characters are trying to collect a homeless person. Scavenger hunts have also made their way into the modern culture, the annual University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt was founded in 1987 and continues to this day. Provo in Utah holds the Guinness World Record for organising the largest scavenger hunt which had 2,079 contestants.