Okay, this is the bit of my 30th-birthday Doctor Who party
that I'm the most proud of. I made a scavenger hunt for my guests, with clues hidden all over the house leading to goodie bags for everyone.
I made a total of twelve sets of ten puzzles (and I have only just noticed that one of the puzzles is missing from that picture, oops...). I gave the first puzzle to each guest inside a printout of River Song's journal cover (I got the file for the printout from the BBC website
- it's about halfway down under "Makes"). They had to solve each puzzle to find the location of the next. I gave everyone a binder clip to keep their puzzles inside the journal covers. If I'd had more time I would've made the journal covers into little folders, or worked out some kind of ring binding or clasp system to keep the collected puzzles inside, but the binder clips worked okay even if they were a little tacky.
I got the idea for the scavenger hunt from this website
, which also has a lot of other Doctor Who party ideas, and a downloadable scavenger hunt you can print out. I chose to make my own rather than use theirs because A) the way they made theirs work for anyone's house is by having each puzzle yield a numerical answer, and each number corresponds with an entry on a list of possible hiding places (I didn't want anyone to be able to just go down the list and look in all the hiding places one by one until they found everything) and B) you have to pay money for it.
I'm including all the puzzles I made here, in case anyone wants to use them for their own DW party (or just wants to solve them), but several of them lead to locations which are very specific to my house. It should be fairly easy to adapt each one to your own needs, though. (I highly recommend the GIMP
for image editing, it's like Photoshop but free [and open source!])
The first puzzle explains a bit about how the scavenger hunt works. I had several non-Whovian party attendees, and I did my best to make sure all of the puzzles could be solved by someone with no knowledge of the show.
I put my favorite Doctor on puzzle #2.
This was also my subtle way of letting DW newbies know that the blue thing is called a TARDIS.
For the next one, I used this website
to make a word search with a hidden message. I put in what I wanted the message to say and threw a bunch of Whovian words into the word list, then tweaked the puzzle size and word list until the website produced a puzzle with a reasonable selection of words to find, and the right number of leftover letters so I could get my whole message in without any random letters at the end of it.
One of the later puzzles requires you to know what a Cyberman is, so I thought a match-the-Cybermen puzzle would be fun (considering there have been so many variations in their look over the years).
Color in the baddies, leave the good and neutral characters/symbols alone.
I did NOT want to go into the intricacies of the proper way to write in Loren Sherman's Circular Gallifreyan alphabet
(but you should definitely check it out, it's awesome!), so I drew each individual letter as if it were a separate word and used that for my Translate Gallifreyan puzzle.
In retrospect, I should have had the Eleventh Doctor trying to find his fez rather than the Empty Child looking for his Mummy, because I felt kind of bad about the spoiler for "The Doctor Dances" and also it turns out that non-Whovians can't identify a fez on sight. Oh well. I made the maze in Microsoft Excel by creating a square grid of a reasonable size and writing my message in a squiggly path from one side to the other. Then I used the drawing tool and drew a bunch of other squiggly paths to dead ends, put borders on the sides of each cell in the right places, and filled in the dead-end paths with letters (laying false trails as I did so, which fooled at least one person - I caught my girlfriend's mom looking for a tiger-shaped lunchbox on top of the fridge
). I was originally planning on just Googling a free printable maze and writing my message on it (which would have been much easier and saved me loads of time), but I'm kind of a maze snob and I didn't like the looks of any of the ones I found, so I made my own.
I was a bit worried about this puzzle, when I had my girlfriend do a test-solve she couldn't tell that the line formed letters and she kept trying to figure out what it made a picture of. I guess it worked out all right, though, since everyone who started the scavenger hunt was able to finish it...
This is when fez knowledge becomes necessary. Previous puzzles let non-Whovians know what a TARDIS and a Cyberman look like, Sonic Screwdrivers and Adipose
were named elsewhere in the party, and bananas, bow ties, guitars and scarves are pretty obvious, but I got a lot of questions like "Is the red thing a flowerpot?"
I don't think anybody found every TARDIS, but they all found enough to figure out where the final prizes were ("in bathtub"). I intentionally put the more important letters on the most obvious TARDISes (3B on a foot-high metal TARDIS bank on top of a bookshelf, 9B on the poster on the front door, 7T on the backdrop for the photo booth, 4A on the cake topper) and the less essential letters on TARDISes that were not so easy to spot (2N on a half-inch-high 3-D printed TARDIS on a shelf, 1I on a lanyard hanging in a corner of the craft room).
The scavenger hunt was a big hit at my party, and I hope you enjoy it as well. Feel free to use my puzzles or modify them as you choose, just don't sell them or claim them as your own, of course. And if you do use them and you want to link back to this post, that would be fab.