I have a bespoke event planning business called Constructed Adventures! When there isn’t a global pandemic going on, I travel the world building personalized immersive Adventures for clients. I also have a Youtube Channel where I post tutorials and ideas! Feel free to check it out. Or not. I’m not your boss.

Every year, I sign up for the Secret Santa holiday exchange and fly out to their location and send my giftee on an adventure. Here are the previous adventures:

2020 - The Tavern Restored

2019 - The Queen of the norse

2018 - The Archer Princess and the Cactus pin

2017 - The Wolf and the Owl go Bird Hunting

2016 - The Great Sock Adventure

2015 - The Royal Scotsman

Proof that it’s me.

Now that the world is opening back up, you have the perfect opportunity to build an Adventure for a loved one. And I’d love to help! Go ahead and give me your parameters. Say you’ve always wanted to create a twisting turning day for someone, hit me with some information and I’ll try to help you build an outline and throw in a few gambits to help give you somewhere to start. Give me the basic location (city), the occasion, and maybe a level of difficulty and I’ll try to find a few spots and give you a few gambits so you feel comfortable building the adventure yourself! Think of this like a free drive by consultation.

To make things more interesting, I’ve invited the wonderful creative folks from The r/ConstructedAdventures subreddit and Discord Channel. You’re welcome to join us in those spaces!

That being said, you can ask me anything about business, travel, how much 2020 sucked for me or how it feels to get deported from Canada (it's not as exciting as you'd think).

Seeing as this is the 4th AMA I’ve done, I made a Bingo card

EDIT: I forgot to add! I made a semi-comprehensive step by step guide if you want to build an Adventure of your own but don't want to chat here!

EDIT2: I'm always looking to hire people when I run adventures. It could be as simple as guarding or handing off an envelope or as engaged as an acting role in something immersive! Here is a form you can fill out and I'll reach out if I ever do an adventure in the area!

EDIT 3: Me right now

EDIT 4: Ok! I'm going to buy a celebratory Chipotle Burrito and then immediately regret how quickly I ate it. Still happy to answer any questions! I'm on here all the time!

EDIT 5: I'm back in the saddle! Feel free to keep em coming!

EDIT 6: RISE AND SHINE EUROPE! I can still answer questions. It just might be a bit slower.

FINAL EDIT: Whelp. I have literally answered every question. If I somehow missed your question, just PM me or hop over to the r/Constructedadventures subreddit. That being said, I'm always on here. If you ask a question, I'll jump back in an answer. Thank you all for such a fun AMA! I appreciate you!

Comments: 339 • Responses: 99  • Date: 

mystiquetur252 karma

I always love seeing your giftee’s adventures from you (& each year a bit bummed I did not get you). Thank you for doing what you do.

Why were you deported from Canada?

What’s the best place you’ve ever traveled?

What’s the least costly one of these treasure hunts can be done for?

squeakysqueakysqueak266 karma

Hey there!

I'm bummed that you're not my giftee (although last year's was pretty emotional)

Why were you deported from Canada?

Happened a few years ago because I'm a moron. I completely overlooked work visa laws (pretty strict in Canada) and the moment I arrived, i got stuck in the customs machine. All in all i didn't do a very good job explaining what I do (I compared myself to a wedding planner.) When it comes to work in other countries, if you are going into a country to potentially take a job from a citizen, you'd better be able to prove that only you can do the job.

What’s the best place you’ve ever traveled?

For an adventure: Barcelona, Kauai, Hawaii

For funsies: Lucerne, Switzerland and Costa Rica, Tijuana and Rosarito Mexico

Honorable mention: i love doing adventures in San Francisco. There's just so much to use!

EDIT: Dishonorable mention: I'm not a fan of Houston, Texas.

What’s the least costly one of these treasure hunts can be done for?

Yeah, I charge a flat rate that starts at $2,500 (but increases depending on size, scope, and how busy I am)

If The players come to me (San diego) I can do it for not too much more than that. Maaaaaaaybe 3K (but that would be tough). However, if I have to travel to you, it's much more. Things are expensive!

EDIT: Since this one has caught hold, I should note that most budgets are between $6k-$10k but it really hinges on so many things. That being said, you don't need me! I STRONGLY encourage you to build an adventure yourself! I think you'd be surprised what you can put together!

Edit 2: Added more locations I love and formatted a few things

mashington1446 karma

What made the Barcelona adventure so memorable? I'm going there around new years for the first time.

squeakysqueakysqueak131 karma

So barcelona was for a marriage proposal for two gentleman. A week before the Adventure, I discovered that the other gentleman was ALSO going to propose on the trip. Thanks to an extremely stressed out friend, I managed to run the adventure and then Go set up their Air B&B for the second proposal!

If you go to Barcelona, you MUST MUST MUST visit two speakeasies. They're the best two speakeasies I've every been to.

The first one is Dr. Stravinsky

The second one is Bobby's Free - This one looks like a barber shop and you need a password to get in.

Note: Get the olives at Bobbys- best olives i've ever eaten.

Past that, Just walk the alleys and explore!

mashington1426 karma

Thanks for the reply! My new dream is to have a historic adventure in Rome someday.

Also, I saw on your website you have a 480 phone number. Are you from Phoenix? I'd love to see if you had an Arizona adventure written about somewhere.

squeakysqueakysqueak31 karma

Rome would be the DREAM!

I was in phoenix when I started my business! And I've done quite a few adventures there! If you check the secret santa posts (at the top) "The Scotsman" and "The wolf and the owl go birdhunting" were both in pheonix!

mashington1416 karma

Oh awesome! Thanks for doing this AMA. You're officially on my bucket list.

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

Bucket lists are awesome! I've been working on mine for years!

JeddakofThark3 karma

I want to know more about them each proposing to each other!

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

Here was my little post (if you wanna see pictures). the first proposal was a full on birthday adventure (the birthday part disguised the proposal part. Then we ran over to their air B&B and set up and bunch of fake votive candles and pictures of them while they were at dinner. we paid the photographer to stay longer and got the second proposal!

ryansports15 karma

Since you said SF is hot on your list, did this whole thing come about from the movie The Game? Do you see yourself more as a Sean Penn or Michael Douglas?

squeakysqueakysqueak28 karma

hahahahahaha, I actually consider myself more of an Amélie. Love the moments she creates in that movie

That being said, I have absolutely left a clown doll with a key in it's mouth for a client

mystiquetur10 karma

Ha, well maybe one of these years I’ll get ya 🤞🏼

Oh doh that’s a good TIL. Sorry the deportation happened but it looks like you learned a lot from it.

All of those places sound lovely. Glad you’ve gotten to see & do awesome things for work & for fun.

I think that’s a great price for a priceless tailor-made treasure hunt.

Thanks for replying! I wish you continued success & fun with everything!

squeakysqueakysqueak22 karma

I sure hope so! I have yet to get a giftee who knows about me! I think it would be fun to get someone who is well aware of what I do and is hyped for it!

And yeah we're all humans a make mistakes. It was very stressful at that time but now I's just a funny story

I think that’s a great price for a priceless tailor-made treasure hunt.

Bingo! You're the BEST

mystiquetur15 karma

Love your bingo card 🤣

“There’s nothing we can’t do if we work hard, never sleep, and shirk from all other responsibilities in our lives.”

squeakysqueakysqueak13 karma

I've definitely seen a pattern from the other IAMAs I've done!

climbrchic5 karma

You are amazing!!

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

No! YOU'RE amazing!

climbrchic5 karma

;) I just read Stanley's adventure. So awesome.

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

Right?! Oh man i really loved that adventure

EDIT: There's that old adage that everyone dies twice. The first time is when they physically leave this mortal plane. The second is the last time someone utters their name. This ensures that Stanley will be alive for many many years to come.

_lmueth_2 karma

What’s fun about Lucerne?

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

Oh man Lucerne is GORGEOUS. There is video that pops up on reddit all the time. It's at the Hotel Villa Honegg

I put on my bucket list that I was going to sit in their infinity pool. AND I DID

On top of that, the city is just gorgeous. Plenty of cute walks and two wooden bridges that are older than the United States. I will return.

justscottaustin112 karma

I'm not trying to disrespect you in any way here, but I've always wondered whether I'm an outlier or if there are a bunch out there like me.

Do you regularly encounter people who have absolutely zero fun with this sort of thing?

squeakysqueakysqueak97 karma

No disrespect at all!

This is a GREAT question. There are absolutely people out there who don't want something like this and that's perfectly fine! I get a decent amount of messages and requests from people who tried to do one for a spouse or friend and they just didnt like it. They just have to be at peace with it.

In short, you're definitely not alone! And that's ok, you do you!

EDIT: to take this a little bit further. These days can vary wildly, usually the big hangup is puzzles/challenge. Lots of creators just want an opportunity to show off how clever they are but they lose sight of actually making the day fun. I've done adventures that had zero challenge. Just the player being whisked from one stop to the next (sometimes there is a party bus or limo with friends).

Can I ask you what you wouldn't like? Is it not knowing what happens next?

mrekted58 karma

Can I ask you what you wouldn't like? Is it not knowing what happens next?

Not OP, but a perspective from a likeminded individual - I usually have a fairly regimented schedule, and I'm fiercely protective of my downtime (because there so little of it..) that I tend to get irrationally irritable with any surprises that eat considerable chunks out of my day.

This is the kind of thing that I would work through as be as gracious as I could muster, but deep inside I would be irritated and dying for it to just be over.

/no fun

squeakysqueakysqueak79 karma

/no fun

Yup! I feel you there! I treasure my time too. I've turned down potential clients because I got the inkling that they player really wouldn't enjoy this. That being said, it's all about you. If i were to do an adventure for you, it would be much more relaxing and on your time.

Fun story, I have a twin brother. If/when he gets married, you better believe I'm planning his bachelor party. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to stage a fun abduction of him a then have someone drive him to a remote beach house. Drop him off with a suitcase, food, his sketchbook (he's an artist) and his nintendo switch for like 1-3 days. He'll be by himself for a day or two and on the last day a few friends will join for some revelry. why? because he treasures his down time. And giving him downtime would be the best gift of all.

Bottom line, it's always about the player and making them happy! even if that includes not doing anything for them!

chevymonza10 karma

I know a few moms who want nothing but "alone time" on Mother's Day. Drop them off at a nice hotel and don't tell their families where they're going for 24 hours!

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

Exactly! Not gonna lie, when I’m on vacation, sometimes I just want to wake up, go surfing, grab a drink, and play rocket league for 6 hours!

There is a time and place for adventure.

justscottaustin8 karma

Can I ask you what you wouldn't like? Is it not knowing what happens next?

Hey. I just checked back on the thread and saw you probably meant this for me.

There are 2 kinds of people in the world. Those who enjoy Rubik's Cubes and those who don't. I'm the guy who can solve it, but I never spent time (after proving I could) to do one in under a minute. My record on popping it apart and reassembling is about 30 seconds, though.

I'm very solution and results oriented. I don't mind a puzzle now and again, but I just don't enjoy them the way some people do.

When I jog? If I'm going 5mi, I need a 2.5 one way track because once I get back to the beginning? Why bother. Been there. Done that. Laps are boring.

Video games? I don't explore for every secret. I power through a level.

I like strong mental challenges for fun every now and again just to see whether I still can. I don't take joy in the solving but rather the completion.

It's just the way I'm wired.

That said, I do take joy in those kinds of group activities (usually whilst kibitzing) if everyone else is enjoying them. I'm the guy letting them run around like crazy while I am frantically analyzing to find the most efficient way to complete it.

Make sense?

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

I love this.

All in all, everyone is different. It is totally ok to not like certain things (even if others do). It makes you...well YOU! And you should keep being you if that makes you happy!

Cheers Friend!

JustVan3 karma

Chances are if he got you as a Reddit guest he'd ask you a lot of questions and figure out an adventure that suited you.

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

That or I'd just go with another giftee that would be more jazzed about an adventure. It's always my goal to give people what they want!

Some people just don't want an adventure and that's A-OK!

peely_gonna_stealy8 karma

Hi, and thanks for making this AMA.

I don't know if this is easy to answer, but here goes my follow up-question:

Lots of creators just want an opportunity to show off how clever they are but they lose sight of actually making the day fun

How do I, as a creator, avoid exactly this and make sure to maximise the fun for the other(s) instead of wanting to shine?

squeakysqueakysqueak17 karma

Oh yes! Something we wrestle with ALL THE TIME!

  1. try to put your ego aside. It's something we need to do all the time anyway, but sometimes we just need to let go of something. If we're the only ones who think something is fun, we need to rethink.
  2. Playtest. oh-my-god PLAYTEST. And try to find people who aren't in your circle. Puzzle people tend to stick with other puzzle people. Doing puzzles is like a language. They get easier. They also have the tendency to make people feel dumb and "not good enough"
  3. Be ready to abandon an idea (or at least shelf it because it's not going to work at this juncture

Hope that helps!

peely_gonna_stealy5 karma

That helps a lot, thank you so much. I like to do stuff like this for my SO, but sometimes get carried away and prepare things that I would like.

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

OH yeah! I have to rein that feeling in ALL. THE. TIME.

It's gotten easier over the years because it feels so good seeing someone with a big smile on their face.

aycheemm47 karma

Holy moly how fortunate kismet!!! My little family of 3 is about to embark on PCH road trip into the Redwoods and I was honestly just thinking about how cool it would be to set up a little hunt for my fiancé and daughter (4y) through the trees! But neither of them have EVER been! Do you think this could still be a feasible activity? Any suggestions on how to make it work in a completely unfamiliar place? Side note: YOU are the reason I started SS 3 years ago! Haha! Such a brilliant mind!

squeakysqueakysqueak47 karma

Side note: YOU are the reason I started SS 3 years ago! Haha! Such a brilliant mind!

YESSSSSS! I love secret Santa and i'm so glad I've inspired people to join! I've also seen some fun Adventures that Santas have made for their Giftees too

ok, first of all, I LOVE the PCH drive. I'm about to drive my life down from portland Oregon back to San Diego CA and I can't wait to stop in the Redwoods. its one of my favorite places in the world

Regarding your adventure, you have two things working against you:

  1. You will be with them the whole time
  2. It's unfamiliar and you can't physically go there to prep something

Let's tackle 1 first:

Your best option is to shed the "mystery" side of Adventures and plant yourself as the "Game master." In this way, you get more control. Instead of them decoding a message to figure out where to go, they solve a puzzle and give you the password! then you can choose what they do next!

With no.2 you can try to research ahead. Where are you driving from? I'm pretty familiar with that coastal drive and I'm happy to give you some ideas and inspiration

aycheemm19 karma

I am NOT crying right now!!!!! Major case of fan girl going on so please forgive any fluster! I love secret Santa as well! My very first giftee and I are still in communication and just touched base this morning about a possible summer visit! It’s such a great community! Ok ok ok let me see if I can organize my thoughts lol. I THINK we are planning on starting south (maybe as far as LA but I’m trying to persuade more north than that haha) and staying on the 1 as much as possible as far up as time allows. I know everyone says drive south but I personally have found the views just as breathtaking from the other lane. (Especially since were driving a passenger b for the first time Lolol) I know I want at least a few days in the trees. So your idea of game master sounds freakin incredible!!!! I could also potentially wake up a little earlier than them one morning to set SOME things up? It’ll be my daughters first road trip and first time out west. Same for my fiancé but he’s already 27 and has only seen the Midwest and Florida 😅

squeakysqueakysqueak19 karma

If you cry, then I'm gonna cry!

Get excited. The PCH Drive is magical!

If you can Start in san diego, You can utilize Balboa Park. Its incredible.

North of that you have San Juan Capistrano. The mission is beautiful.

Next you have Santa Barbara and/or San Louis Obispo.

North of that you have the Big Sur Drive and Monterey.

Then San francisco!

All in all, you need to map out your drive. where you plan on stopping. then do your research on the area. Is there a plaque you can use? a business you can involve?

I'm currently consulting with a gentleman doing a road trip that ends in a proposal. Each day he has a little treasure chest with a lock. the goal is for her to open a chest a day. Days a static (Pencil) puzzles (in short: a puzzle that can be done anywhere) But some of them use the location they're staying!

missjoules35 karma

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice for when you began your company, what would it be?

squeakysqueakysqueak98 karma

holy hell there are SO many pieces of advice. here are a few:

  • Just do. No one cares about you right now, so stop pining over every font size on a blog post and just post the damn blog. You're better off setting a good foundation.
  • Make contingencies for risky gambits (during adventure days). Nothing is worse than having to scramble when something goes wrong.
  • Get a work visa when doing a job in Canada (or any other country for that matter)

mmmpie13629 karma

From my wife:

What a wonderful thing to do! I live in Lancaster UK and have a degree in Travel & Tourism, part of which includes Destination Management (creating tours and holidays for people in the city you live in but they don't).

I am currently planning a treasure hunt for my best friend in Oregon (where I am from), so I'd love to have a chat with you.

On a related note (and I am entirely serious here), would you ever consider bringing on associates in other countries? This is more or less a dream job for me.

squeakysqueakysqueak49 karma

Tell your wife to reach out to me!

I have quite a few Protégés in different parts of the world! Our universe is a lot bigger than you think! I'd be happy to assist with her starting something herself. I get a lot of people that reach out inquiring about an adventure and I'm unavailable. I'd be more than happy to help you both start an adventure business in the UK.

The world needs more Adventure!

Just send me a message!

Potikanda6 karma

As someone who lives in Canada, but is financially not very well off, is there a way that I might be able to start something like this myself? I love the idea, and doing the research sounds fun, but being able to travel is my dream. I don't care if I'm going to Europe or to the next town over from me, I just want the opportunity to travel...

squeakysqueakysqueak10 karma

Go ahead and PM me. I have a lot of proteges that I help and encourage to do this too.

FYI, it's a lot of work to get going! Luckily, there isn't too much start up cost and pretty low overhead!

Louie-H-K28 karma

How do you finance it?

squeakysqueakysqueak55 karma

The nice thing about event planning is that there isn't much overhead. The client pays a deposit which usually covers the majority of the "at cost" of the adventure! Then i bill them for the remainder after the adventure is over

AintGotNoTimeFoThis24 karma

What could we do for a mother's day adventure using the backyard, the house, and maybe the neighborhood?

squeakysqueakysqueak43 karma

Oh man you have so many options but not too much time to pull it off

Start with the ending: How does this end? does she get presents? flowers? cards?

There was a great Recap posted on the r/Constructedadventures subreddit with a formula I really liked:

  1. Make a map of the area.
  2. Mark the location of the gifts on the map
  3. Cut up the map and put in the first envelope.

It's a super easy setup for you and it's quite fun. I'm happy to expand if you give me more information!

321dawg4 karma

I've done a little home scavenger hunt like this! I just made up little rhyming clues and hid them throughout the house, the last one had the big present hidden in it. I don't remember what the present was, or even what the clues were, but god we had a blast.

Iirc I had maybe a dozen clues and it ended up taking much longer to solve than I thought...I figured maybe an hour but it was more like two or three. I purposely made some of them hard and some easy, but the finder got the hard ones right away and needed hints on the ones I thought they'd get instantly!

I was so worried they'd stumble across a clue meant for later in the game but fortunately they never came close.

My clues were super cheesy but in the heat of the hunt they became more fun and mysterious. I started with the first clue in a card, something like:

It's a Mother's Day treasure hunt!
This is your first clue --
The next one is hiding
Behind a picture of you!

(Hide clue behind a photo of mom, can be a group photo but try to make the first one super easy)

So you found the first one,
You think you're so smart.
The next one will be waiting
For [her favorite show] to start

(Hide behind/under the tv)

Etc. I also included hints that let them know they're halfway there, almost there, the next one is the last. And some spots had sentimental memories, while others were just random and made a good rhyme.

I could see incorporating some of The Architect's puzzles into it, like one that leads to a book that they have to pick out letters on a certain page to lead to the next spot. Or using Ceasar Cypher for a clue.

Good luck! Even if you only do 5 or 6 clues, I guarantee it will be memorable. You can even space it out with activities at different clues, like one leads to the table for lunch or snack; another requires them to take a dozen silly photos before they can get the next clue (that you hand to them).

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

This are brilliant ideas!

Thank you so much for the input. You nailed it with the "5-6 clues" part. People often think "more is better" when it's usually the exact opposite.

snecklesnecks22 karma

Have you ever done a hunt in Gibraltar? If not, fancy doing one for my friends and I?

squeakysqueakysqueak33 karma

OH my god I bet that would be so much fun!

As i come off of a year sitting at home, I'm itching to travel again (as soon as this pesky pandemic is finished)

If you have the budget, I would love to fly to you to build you an adventure! I do think it might get a bit pricy. International travel isn't cheap.

That being said, have you ever considered putting together an adventure for your friends? I would LOVE to see that!

cedarvhazel5 karma

Gibraltar is such an amazing mosh mash place, a great place for a hunt!

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

I bet! I hope to be able to go back to europe. Everything is older over there and there is so much history and beauty!

America is great but Europe is an Adventure GOLD MINE

cinnysuelou17 karma

Were you the guy they covered on Endless Thread? That was a great episode & I was so jealous of their adventure.

squeakysqueakysqueak15 karma

That was me!

Funny story, I had to throw that together in 3 days! We weren't sure if WBUR was going to fly them down from Boston to DC. I've been pestering them to let me do another one!!!

Here is the episode if anyone is interested

The_Dark_Dualist17 karma

Have you ever put one of your adventures together in a small town? Just wondering because we have a lot of them in Idaho.

squeakysqueakysqueak33 karma


Honestly I kinda love it. There's definitely a lot less options than an Adventure in New York or San Francisco, but that doesn't mean they're bad options.

Smaller towns usually have a lot better wilderness for that style of exploration.

I did an adventure in Idaho Falls, Idaho and it was a BLAST. The player was a very popular guy in town so whenever I reached out to people to ask for help, they were all about it.

Bottom line, you can build an adventure pretty much anywhere!

I also did an adventure in Champagne, Illinois. It's more "college town" than small town but it definitely had that feel. I really liked that City

masterpforce17 karma

Hello, what you do is really out of this world and I'd love to experience it one day, great job!

I was curious : Do you consider the Secret Santa's you do as a marketing expense? Or do the giftees pay your regular fee?

Or do you just do it for FUN?

Thanks, have a great day!

squeakysqueakysqueak47 karma

Love this question!

Giftees never pay anything. They didn't sign up to pay for their own gift and I ensure that's the case.

I tell my CPA that it is marketing so I can Justify the expense. I don't know if the days get enough publicity to justify the few thousand I usually spend flying out and building an adventure, but bottom line is that it brings me a lot of joy and frankly, it's just a really cool tradition. I plan on continuing. Early/Mid December is always blocked off on my calendar for Reddit Secret Santa!

danielle808814 karma

Hey there!

I've always wanted to create one of these, but I'm always stressed about people messing up clues or finding good locations.

I'd love to do one for my brother, he lives in St. Pete, Florida. There are SO many cool spots in that area and he loves all the art and breweries around town.

Got any tips?

squeakysqueakysqueak29 karma

I HAVE ALL THE TIPS! (I'm pulling a lot of this from a guide I put together here)

You want to start small and get help (Especially when it comes to people messing with stuff. Here is the formula:

Step 1:

You need to start with the purpose, and then the "perceived purpose". The purpose is simple, maybe a proposal or a birthday. That being said, you can’t tell your players what the purpose is ("Happy birthday honey! There's a surprise party waiting for you and you need to find it!)

This brings us to the perceived purpose. It could be something as simple as “I built this day for you, follow the clues!“ Or to be more elaborate. “Here’s a box. you need to find the key.“

Step 2:

Next, you need to lock down your "anchor points." The most important anchor point is the end. Figure out where and when, and then jump all the way back and commit to the beginning.

Once you have the beginning and end down, you can scout for fun locations in between. Simple rule I like to follow is “no location should ever be longer than 15 minutes Travel time from the previous location”.

This should help narrow down the radius of where you want this Adventure. After that it’s just a matter of finding fun and interesting locations. In the beginning just write down everything and slowly narrow it down.

Some of my favorite basic locations that usually work for most places:

  • Park
  • Zoo
  • Museum
  • Restaurant
  • Bookstore
  • coffeeshop
  • Library
  • antique shop
  • Statue
  • Bronze plaque
  • High point (An overlook or a hill where you can use a monocular)

Go on Tripadvisor, google, and yelp. Start checking out fun and interesting places in your area. Add them to this schedule doc. While you do that, populate them on a custom google map.

Step 3:

Once you have a basic idea of the adventure locations, it's time to start adding "gambits" (I call them gambits because you're not going to use a puzzle at every stop. Gambits are "anything you use to propel your player to the next stop." It might be them finding something, or it might be them solving a puzzle or decoding a message!

Gambits can be broken down into one of three buckets:

  • Dead Drops
  • Handoffs
  • Decodes

Dead Drops - This is any kind of play where you literally hide something for your player to find. It could be something as simple as a locked chest sitting in their home to an envelope sitting in the hand of a statue in a public square. Dead drops are the most risky. I recommend hiding them well and giving your player detailed instructions and/or having someone keep eyes on the drop until it's picked up!

Handoffs - This play is where you have a human literally handing off what's needed. These aren't nearly as risky but require more help. Easy handoffs could include incorporating businesses or restaurants or getting the help of friends and family to be at certain locations to approach your player!

Decodes - This play is where you encode a clue/instructions and then send your player to a place where they could decode the message. My favorite is a book/Ottendorf cipher (National Treasure, back of the Declaration of independence). There's something really fun about using a public plaque or sign to decode a hidden message just for you!

In closing, I recommend mixing things up. Decodes can be safe but if you hit your participant with nothing but puzzles, their brain might explode. Dead drops are exciting but leaving envelope after envelope in public places will cause you lots of undue stress. Get that balance!

Here are a couple parting rules I aways harp on that you should keep in mind as you're building the adventure:

  • Always make the adventure easier than you'd like.
  • Keep it under 6 hours. Brains get tired. If it’s your first try, shoot for 2-3 hours tops.
  • Mitigate risk. If you're going to do something risky (Like leave an envelope in a public place for an hour) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A CONTINGENCY PLAN.
  • Think of a way that you can slow or speed up your player if there is a time sensitive ending (Like a surprise party or proposal)

I did a little check into the St. Petersberg TripAdvisor and you're right, the area is RIFE with possibilities:

  • With all the beaches you could bury something in the sand and have him use a metal detector.
  • Its risky, but you could have him dive, swim for something in a watertight container
  • You can definitely send him to a library and have him find a message in a book.
  • Most bars would love for you to send him in with a password.

I hope thats a good start!

danielle808810 karma

Dang I didn't expect so much help!! I LOVE the hidden message in a library book. And the Ottenddorf decipher is an awesome idea too!! Thank you so much!

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma


I would love to hear a recap of your adventure when you run it!

You can always pick up a hollowed out book on amazon or at a hobby lobby and incorporate that too!

tiny_butt_toucher12 karma

I just wanted to say I think you did an amazing job for your 2020 Seattle secret Santa in spite of all of the closures and Covid restrictions. It’s my city and I feel like it’s full of magic and it was wonderful to see that honored. It was such a touching and fun tribute to Stanley and you chose some of the nicest local businesses. Anyone who hasn’t been to support Wild Mountain and Ophelia Books should definitely check them out!

Was there anywhere you had hoped to send them on a quest that wasn’t possible due to Covid?

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

Thank you u/tiny_butt_toucher

I was definitely nervous about the adventure but overjoyed that it was driving distance (even if it was a 3 hour drive)

And yes. At the ending, I really wanted the "stealth mission" to be indoors. often times I can rent out a theater space for a few hours to make sure everything is super contained. I was really happy with the location I chose, it was just a bit stressful because there were strangers walking around the park!

Those businesses were amazing too. Especially working with me on the Saturday before Christmas! This Adventure hit hard for me and I was just excited to honor my giftee's father

tiny_butt_toucher7 karma

I think Gas Works was a genius solution to not being able to use a true indoor space. Your post inspired me to think up an adventure for my husband to honor an upcoming anniversary

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma


don't hesitate to post on r/ConstructedAdventures for help and we would LOVE to read a recap!

attemptnumbertwo12 karma

What a cool business, that sounds like so much fun! What are a couple of your favorite gambits or puzzles that you've had in previous treasure hunts? Are there any unique puzzles or riddles that you were especially proud of?

squeakysqueakysqueak24 karma

Great question!

My all time favorite gambit is the Book/Ottendorf cipher - It's easy(ish) to encode, makes sense, is very hard to brute force, and is exciting for the player.

My specialty lies in using surroundings to propel the player along. I love finding statues and plaques, figuring out a way to incorporate Art into the adventure.

I'm a big proponent of using Treasure maps (and maps in general). it helps set the boundaries so players dont end up in another state, Plus you can add multiple layers and keep coming back to a map.

one of my favorite moment was when I sent a group to a viewfinder behind an abandoned observatory. They'd gotten a canvas cargo bag with items, some shooters (it was a birthday celebration afterall)

In the front pocket was a quarter and compass directions. They put the quarter into the view finder and turned it in the direction of the coordinates. there was a man sitting on a bench in a field. They moment they said "Wait! I see someone!" He stood up, waved, and beckoned them to come down.

That man had an earpiece in. There was another person in the bushes that signaled to him to point and wave at the right moment. It was really fun!

thepopeshatisdumb10 karma

How do you make sure nothing is stolen or are you always lurking somewhere while this is going on?

squeakysqueakysqueak16 karma

Great question!

I have eyes on all the pieces and players at all times. I hire a few people to assist throughout the day. When i scout leading up to the event, I choose spots that arent insanely packed, and then I make sure the envelope is well hidden with clear instructions. The person who placed the envelope sits on top of it until they get word that they player is approaching (I plant a GPS tracker on the player so I know where they are at all times)

To recap. There is a lot of prep and a lot of communication!

therankin6 karma

I'd love to get a bird's eye view of you having a bird's eye view.

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

I'm trying to do a better job of chronicling the behind the scenes on my instagram! I kinda hate social media so we'll see how it goes!

I want to show off the glamorous and not so glamorous side of this world!

Also I'd like to get a bird's eye view of you having a bird's eye view of my bird's eye view

therankin4 karma

lmao. well done.

I really don't like facebook/insta but am considering opening up insta to see the behind the scenes.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

Ugh, I apologize for potentially making you join Instagram

Red_hat_oops10 karma

I was planning something similar (inspired by you) for my wife before the pandemic shut things down. Of all the random people in the world to think of during this time, I've seriously wondered how you have been doing.

How has the pandemic affected your business? While I imagine people have a desire to do something, have you had challenges hiring clue givers and the interactions? Approaching strangers seemed to be important in the past, but I know I've been hesitant to walk up to random people who may or may not be sick.

squeakysqueakysqueak28 karma

Thank you for the thoughts!

In short: 2020 sucked. I take science seriously and shut down the travel/Adventure building side of my business when the pandemic hit. Funny story, I Was in the air flying to Denver when March madness go cancelled. I arrived at my Air B&B and doom scrolled r/Coronavirus until like 2 or 3 in the morning. The next day I went out to scout and everything was closing down. That evening I sat down with the proposal client, told him We'll have to cancel or pause, and flew home that night. Wild times!

After that it was a flurry of cancellations and suspensions. I gave all my clients the opportunity to cancel with a full deposit refund. 75% of them took that options (which I get) Once the dust settled. I started working on a pivot. I started ramping up consultations. did my best to figure out Youtube and made a patreon.

I'm very lucky that I have cheap rent and low overhead. Essentially I just stayed at home and helped people build adventures for their friends and families. One big goal was to help parents get precious time back in their day by giving them the took to spend 30 minutes making an in home treasure hunt that their kids would take an hour to complete.

Net gain 30 minutes!

But now I'm fully vaccinated and very excited to get back out there!

Calm_Memories8 karma

Do you do themes from fandoms at all? This is such a neat business and I'm so delighted you do SS each year. You've really brought a spark to the reddit gift exchanges!

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

I have! I always need to be aware of copyright infringement but I've done a wizarding themed one and a princess themed adventure as well!

The wizarding one involved finishing classes

Potions -apothecary with an AMAZING tour guide

Divinations - tarot cards

Muggle studies - Checking a few historical sites

Retaking potions - wine bar

They were both fun!

Calm_Memories5 karma

That's a good point! That's super creative to lean into a Wizarding theme in a sneaky way though. One of these days, I'll need to splurge on an adventure.

I suppose follow up, for the puzzled puzzlers, what happens if they don't figure out a puzzle or riddle in a timely manner, if at all? Is there a way to bypass that to keep the day running smoothly?

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

Oh yeah. Timing. is. everything.

Oftentimes things scale on the easy side (Nobody like to be standing in the middle of a field with a book full of numbers and no clue what to do.)

I like to put together puzzles/gambits into parts of the adventure where there is more time (Like sitting down for a meal or a longer than usual drive. In those cases, There are usually two easy contingencies:

  1. The person who hired me is usually along for the ride. I can discretely text a hint and they look like a genius.
  2. I'll do a lot of playtesting and can usually pinpoint the stick points. Sometimes I'll have a hint in a wax sealed envelope that the server will bring over if players are struggling.

The bottom line is that these days are not about the puzzles. The puzzles are just a mechanism to propel players forward throughout the day. I'm not in the business to make people feel unworthy, I'm in the business of elated excitement!

Carpe_PerDiem7 karma

What a great job! I built one of these for my boyfriend (now husband) in 2009 and we give each other "adventures" as gifts to this day I have always wanted to recreate the full (narrative) experience here in NYC but time/$$ was always an issue.

We just had a baby and I'd love to fall back in love with our city post-pandemic and bring her along. We love art, history, the outdoors and each other. Recommendations?

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

well firstly, we would LOVE to hear a recap of your adventures (no matter how big or small) over at r/Constructedadventures.

NYC is Crazy because there are SO MANY OPTIONS.

The last adventure I built there was for people who weren't from the area so i ended up using pretty surface level stops (Empire state building, Chelsea Market, Central Park)

Honestly, I really like chelsea market as a stop since there are tons of businesses you could do. I had my players use the viewfinder on top of the Empire state to head to that location.

Since you just had a baby and time is at a premium. I would look into doing something really small. Maybe have the first few parts be in your apartment. You could send him to his favorite coffee shop and cover a coffe, then maybe a local bookstore with a holowed out book and a nearby park.

I don't have kids myself but I would imagine getting a quiet few hours might be the biggest gift of all!

Carpe_PerDiem5 karma

You've really shifted my perspective a bit. Yes, he probably would love to have a nice, solo day constructed for him in the nabe.

I'll see if I can dig up photos of our first adventure. It was "Choose your own adventure" style with envelopes that led to each location so how the day went ended up being a surprise for me as well!

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

oh I love that so much! Sometimes It's hard for me to break from my "formula"

I just adore brilliant quirky ideas and different thinking. Best of luck building an adventure and handling a newborn!!

2147_M7 karma

This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I’ve never been aware of your AMAs in the past.

Can you describe the IDEAL timeline you need and what sort of expectations for different budget ranges?

I’ve got a 10th anniversary coming up and this seems like a super cool way to make it memorable.

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

So glad you found me! Yeah Reddit is a big place. I never assume that anyone has any idea who I am!

Ideal timeline is a few months out. At this current Juncture, I'm completely booked out through July 2021 with a few bookings later in the year.

Most budgets sit between 6k and 10k (depending on size, scope, and travel) but there isn't a huge difference in the amount of work.

Easy example is this: The difference between the player driving themselves vs a black car vs a limo vs a helicopter is $0-thousands of dollars. But it really doesnt add that much more to my plate!

Don't hesitate to reach out! Worst case scenario I can at least point you in the right direction!

2147_M4 karma

I’ll definitely be reaching out.

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Looking forward to it!

lialovefood7 karma

I'm so curious how you set up your SS adventures for your recipients...do you tell them who you are? I imagine there's a certain level of trust required to give a redditor tons of personal info haha

squeakysqueakysqueak15 karma

Oh yeah. In short: I got very lucky in the first two.

At this point it's become kind of a thing on r/secretsanta. I put a lot of pieces in place to make sure that they KNOW its me. I also sign up a few accounts to ensure I actually get someone who would want this day!

There's definitely lots of communication behind the scenes. I want my giftee to be excited, not dreading the day.

lialovefood9 karma

Haha fair enough! So cool that you do this...and I won't lie I have my fingers crossed to match with you at some point!

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

Hopefully you're my giftee this year!

ClashThrone6 karma

When you are getting others involved (such as The Ferryman) are these paid actors that you hire externally or people that the recipient knows doing it for free after you have reached out?

I assume they’re actors but it would be interesting to know.

Also, when getting other establishments and people who work there involved, does it take much convincing or are most onboard quickly?

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

Love this question:

Everyone get's paid. Full stop. I work in a creative industry and have plenty of people that try to devalue creative work. I'm the opposite. I want to make sure creative people are compensated well for their work

Side plug: Feel free to fill out a form on my site. if I'm in your area, I might reach out for you to help me!

when it comes to businesses, the vast majority are very very excited to be part. I like to go in when they're not busy, chat with the manager, and assure them that this will be very buttoned up.

darlinpurplenikirain6 karma

This is amazing! I will definitely be doing one of these for my fiance's birthday - we've been doing Hunt a Killer boxes for a while and having a really good time with it! He never wants to do anything for his birthday but I feel like this would be so fun. We're moving to Houston this summer so I think it'd be a good way to explore - any favorite places there?

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

oh man I have some strong opinions about Houston!

That being said, Herman Park is a really pretty spot. So many thing you can use there.

Past that, there is the Eleanor Tinsley Park and riverfront

The Woodland Heights area has some cool shops and restaurants too!

yourzero6 karma

I love your idea(s), but I'm not great at planning, and I'm not creative. Having said that, I'm trying to put together an adventure for my family when we go on vacation soon. The main purpose is to get us up and off our butts (instead of sitting at the beach all day), but also for that bonding kind of crap. :)

I have read through your guide, but obviously I'm taking you up on your AMA offer to generate ideas. :)

I'd love to hear your (and anyone's) ideas on things to include in the adventure (see "I'm not very creative" above). Would you care to share? (I had to add this weirdly-worded question because the moderator bot requires a question)


  • Location: Fort Walton Beach, Florida, area (can possibly include Destin as well).
  • 3 kids, ages 10-16
  • 2 adults (besides me - I'm not planning on telling the other adults the solutions, as I want them to participate too)


  • Travel by car is possible, so we can go all over (or outside) the city
  • Would like to include something on the beach and/or water - I love the idea of them diving for something, as you mentioned in a response to another person who will be in Florida.
  • Would like it to be a group effort (not a competition), but have rewards of course
  • Some steps in the adventure can require money (like renting a scooter or whatever). Thinking more about that, there could be a (prerequisite) step for the kids to somehow acquire money. No pickpocketing of tourists though, my kids are not stealthy enough.
  • Historically notable and/or sciencey things are encouraged
  • This is a long list, I apologize. It's good to get my thoughts down, though.
  • Can require setup beforehand (such as, I go hide something somewhere, like geocaching style)
  • In fact, geocaching could be a fun step or two
  • If I could hire a mime to follow us around and act like exaggerated versions of my kids, that would be great.

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma


you have no idea how many people say "I'm trying to build an adventure. What should i do? Ok, let's begin:

I'm going to sidestep the doc and try to address your parameters.

First and foremost, If you are going to be with them at all times, I recommend taking on a "Game Master' Moniker. This gives you full control and allows you to dictate tempo as you drive.


  • Travel by car is possible, so we can go all over (or outside) the city.
    • In this case, I would break the day into "zones" Then you can focus on each individual zone. Maybe the goal is to collect 5 gems. each zone ends with them acquiring a gem.
  • Would like to include something on the beach and/or water - I love the idea of them diving for something, as you mentioned in a response to another person who will be in Florida.
    • You can look to rent a metal detector and bury something, or use a watertight case. But be prepared to have a backup. Tides dont care about your treasure hunt.
    • You can also occasionally steer the adventure into more of a "challenge" (Like build a sandcastle that has 8 points and is at least 3 feet tall) It's a great way to break up the day and keep them guessing!
  • Would like it to be a group effort (not a competition), but have rewards of course.
    • You're going to have to really push this. In my experience, no matter how hard you try, people still compete. Perhaps you could give ownership to to different members over different aspects so everyone gets a chance to shine.
  • Some steps in the adventure can require money (like renting a scooter or whatever). Thinking more about that, there could be a (prerequisite) step for the kids to somehow acquire money. No pickpocketing of tourists though, my kids are not stealthy enough.
    • You can always call ahead and see if you can leave a credit card and have them present a password (or gem) to get what they need! Businesses are usually pretty jazzed to be a part of this!
  • Historically notable and/or sciencey things are encouraged
    • Oh absolutely. often times kids centers and museums have some kind of scavenger hunt built in to encourage exploration.
  • This is a long list, I apologize. It's good to get my thoughts down, though.
    • Don't apologize, this list is great!
  • Can require setup beforehand (such as, I go hide something somewhere, like geocaching style)
    • You're going to make sure that whatever you set up is FULLPROOF (also have a backup. I would imagine beaches are going to be EXTREMELY busy with the pandemic subsiding.
  • In fact, geocaching could be a fun step or two
    • Geocaching is great. You can look ahead and hide a small clue
  • If I could hire a mime to follow us around and act like exaggerated versions of my kids, that would be great.
    • This is some upper management thinking right here. Now I'm a little upset that i havent involved a mime in any of my adventures.

Ugly_Painter6 karma

How proud of yourself are you that you've co opted the coolest name from the Matrix?

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

I have no idea what I'm talking about


To delve further, it started as a joke. When I was building the first Secret Santa Adventure, I wanted some kind of pen name. I was watching How I met your mother for the 3rd time. Ted Was an architect and Barney was always putting together elaborate gambits (usually to sleep with women) and then i just decided to go with "The Architect"

Now it's on my business card!

lolboogers6 karma

Do you have any tips for doing an adventure some place where I have no real help? My wife and I moved out of state and we have no friends or family out here whatsoever.

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

You have more options than you think. Your biggest hurdle is with dead drops (Leaving something in the wild to be found) You definitely need to guard it but how can you guard it and make sure the next stop is set up? Here are a few ways:

  • Incorporate businesses. You can swing by the morning of and then just give them a call when your wife is on her way. Then you can jump to the stop after.
  • Decodes: Maybe she finds an envelope with clues to find a statue or plaque in a park. She finds the statue and decoded a message using a book cipher. Now she's at another stop that you don't have to guard!
  • You can also create a dummy email address that auto responds or get a free google voice number that goes straight to voicemail with a message.

All in all, make it simple first, and think through the day, but I'm sure your wife will love the thought!

Hope that helps!

lolboogers4 karma

These are great tips! Thank you. If I end up putting something together for my wife, I think I'll tie a clue to a rock on the bottom of the bay near where we live. Gives us a good excuse to go scuba diving!

Also just a side note: someone was cutting onions in here when I made it to the end of the adventure with Stanley the Great.

If you're ever on the Big Island of Hawaii, I'm ready to help! I signed up on your website.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

I love it! But you need to make sure underwater instructions and VERY CLEAR and that whatever you put down there is locked down. I said somewhere before but the tide does not care about your treasure hunt.

Glad you liked Stanley's adventure! I definitely got emotional too.

I used to do an adventure every year on a different island in Hawaii for the same company. Obviously that is on hold but I'm hoping we can pick that up. Eventually we'll do the big island and I'll reach out!



FlamingWhisk5 karma

I’ve always wanted to do something like this for my son.

Have you ever done an adventure for a person in a wheelchair? It limits things for him.

Sorry about the deportation. I apologize on behalf of my country lol. Should have just told them you were a make stripper

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

You should definitely do something for your son!

I have never done an adventure for anyone in a wheelchair but I would LOVE the opportunity. As much as it limits, i still feel like you would have plenty of options! tell me more about your son! What does he like to do? What area are you in?

No stress with the deportation! It was all my fault. And the canadian Customs agents were VERY friendly!

FlamingWhisk6 karma

They were friendly but did they give you a butter tart? No. See not that friendly lol

My son is 24 and has cerebral palsy. Just an awesome sweet kind soul. He uses a chair full time and loves video games, anime and sometimes his sister. Is a total foodie. Loves spicy food and sushi.

I’m sure you get swamped due to your artistic talent (it’s an art what you do) but have you ever thought of doing an adventure specifically to those with disabilities? I know A LOT of families that would be interested.

I’m in London but can get to Toronto.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

Honestly I love the idea. Even if it's helping people put together Adventures for friends, family, or kids with disabilities.

It would be a challenge but a very fun challenge to work within those parameters!

FlamingWhisk5 karma

Let me know if you need any help with the disability accommodations aspect. I think it would be so cool to offer

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

Yeah! Please PM me. If for no other reason, I would love to have a contact I can check in case I get a client who wants me to build an adventure for someone with a disability.

attemptnumbertwo5 karma

Since you mentioned you love San Francisco for adventures can you share some places you like to use in the city for your adventures to help get others started on creating their own adventures? I'm in the area and would love to put a couple together for friends but I'm not familiar enough with the city to know of many good spots to use.

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

someone else asked about san fran too! This is what I tole them:

Im in love with the Ferry Building. The clack-clack-clacking of the ferry sign is such a distinct sound and there are some wonderful shops and food stands there. Plus from that area, you can hop on one of the railway cars (not to be confused with the Trolleys) and head over to the Giant's stadium or trek over to Coit Tower or the warf.

That area is a great jumping off point. There is also thePawn Shop. it's a really cool speakeasy in SF that i hope can open again soon!

Hope that helps!

EmykoEmyko5 karma

I’ve thought about doing something like this! My idea was to make it a game where anyone in my small city could complete to find a treasure hoard. I’d want the stages to be fairly challenging puzzles, maybe requiring code breaking or research at our historical society. I live on the ocean, so there is some fun lore about pirate treasure buried on one of our many islands. I’d like the puzzle to be hard enough that it could take more than a day to solve. I’ve always been daunted by the scope of this kind of project, so I’d appreciate any tips, but I’ll also read the links you’ve provided. Realistically, I should probably attempt a small scale version first to figure out logistics. Oh, and the treasure hoard - how to I make a worthwhile prize without actual doubloons? (Portland, ME)

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

Cheers from the other Portland! (in Oregon)

You should definitely do something like this! Here are a few things of note.

  1. You definitely don't want to make it so difficult that it takes days to solve. No matter how hard you try, someone is going to figure it out. There are some pretty hardcore groups that tackle puzzle hunts and leave everyone in the dust. Those people will shred your game and leave others in the dust.

I would recommend just staggering out clues and instructions and make it more approachable. The vast majority of people aren't puzzle people. So if you want to do something for the masses, it's going to have to be easier.

I would start small. Find some cools spots you can use and test it out with friends and family.

The treasure is tough. Maybe you could partner with local businesses. use them as stops or parts of the treasure hunt, and see if they can provide something!

EmykoEmyko4 karma

Thank you!! Do you know where these hardcore puzzle groups congregate online? I’d love to research my potential audience!

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

You can start on our Discord Channel!

We have a small but passionate group who tackles whatever puzzle hunt is going on at the time(Plus there is the puzzle hunt calendar)

I would also check out the Escape room Channel. There are a lot of people who can help give you ideas!

OVK-Kumquat5 karma

I imagine you have visited both sides of the country multiple times.. So, time to settle this: Which coast is better? And why do you agree it's the east coast? ;P

squeakysqueakysqueak19 karma

This is a dangerous question considering at this current hour, there's probably way more east coasters awake than west coasters.

I personally LOVE the west coast. It's where I belong and it's amazing for many reasons. It is worth noting that east coast has amazing Adventure possibilities because it's older. There's so much history and architecture that can be used. So many statues and commemorative plaques!

Sorry for the wishy-washy answer. West coast wins for me!

plueonigiri5 karma

Hi! I am a Malaysian currently staying in the UAE and my best friend who is Australian and stays in Perth, is getting married at the end of this year. Needless to say, we are both heartbroken that I won’t be able to stand by her side as maid of honour.

I was thinking I might send her an extra special birthday surprise this year (August). I was already gonna send her a surprise box with a note and some small presents to open on the morning of her wedding but it still feels insufficient to show how much I love her.

Any ideas? 😭😭😭 Thank you so much in advance!

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

OOOOOO I really love the thoughtfulness.

You could take a deep dive into her surrounding areas and send her to a couple of her favorite places. Maybe you send her an envelope that sends her to a nail salon where you've covered the costs, then yo a massage appointment, Finally You could coordinate with someone delivering a bottle of wine!

Obviously you could remove and or insert any ideas, but she might treasure a thoughtful experience!

KaringBae4 karma

Wow, your links are super insightful!! And I never thought that something like this could turn into a business gig where people pay a couple thousands for. I admire you and your work!!

How long does it take for you to usually plan a scavenger out? Do you get stressed or is it more of a breeze because you aren’t on a time crunch?

What made you start this? Is it because you like to create puzzle-like games for others? Or is it more because you enjoy the freedom on being creative?

I actually made my own scavenger hunt back in early 2019 (I made this Reddit account around late 2019, so the scavenger hunt was way prior before I even know about constructed adventures). It was very overwhelming and I was so afraid that I would mess up! What made it worse or off putting was the person that I made it for wasn’t appreciative of my work:( they took an hour to meet up with me (I waited at a shop for an hour and the employee would keep looking at me and ask when they would arrive). I also traveled by transit and out during the winter- super dark and cold at WA haha)

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma


Yeah I feel you so much regarding your adventure. Some people just aren't into an Adventure! And that's ok even if it's disheartening.

So much work and effort goes into these and sometimes people don't really realize it, in the word's of "God" (in the Show Futurama) "If you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all"

How long does it take for you to usually plan a scavenger out? Do you get stressed or is it more of a breeze because you aren’t on a time crunch?

I usually like to have at least 1-2 weeks to give it my full attention. I try to be on the ground and in the area 8 days in advance so i can feel how locations feel, talk face to face with actors and business owners, and really know about the locations. However, usually there is prep work ahead of schedule (if Im going to book a photographer for an engagement, I'll need to book that well in advance)

What made you start this? Is it because you like to create puzzle-like games for others? Or is it more because you enjoy the freedom on being creative?

I'd always been that guy who kidnapped friends for birthday or put googly eyes on everyone's photos at work. I really strive to make life fun and interesting. This manifested perfectly when my 2015 Reddit Secret Santa giftee happened to live 21 minutes away from me. I knew I had this awesome opportunity to do something really cool. I built him an adventure, it hit the front page, and an acquaintance (now my best friend) said "This is awesome. You should start a business, I'm going to build you a website. What's your business name?"

I owe everything to him.

I want you to give building an adventure another shot! pick a better player and start small! Side note, we would love to hear about your adventure gone wrong over at r/Constructedadventures. It's all about learning!

KaringBae3 karma

Wow, that’s amazing!! It all started because of secret Santa on Reddit. Is this your most memorable constructed adventure (because it is your first ever and what got to where you are today) or do you have another memorable adventure that topped this one?

I can feel the love and joy that you have for your friends radiating from, “kidnapping your friends for their birthday and putting on some goggly eyes!” I think nothing is sweeter than creating something out of love for a friend/someone you cherish- that’s honestly the best way to show that you care (but maybe that’s just me).

I may consider posting my adventure gone wrong on the subreddit! This seems like a niche that’s right up my alley, I had so much fun planning and executing the adventure- just that the receiver wasn’t very receptive or appreciative. One person should deter you from something that you enjoy! Amirite? Haha

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

It's definitely a memorable one! I still keep in touch with my giftee and his (now wife)

I'm now up to adventure no. 74 but each one has a special place in my heart. I try to do something different every time.

You should definitely post your recap. We had someone post an 'adventure gone wrong" recently and it was a great learning experience for everyone!

kowalski714 karma

Have any reclusive millionaires hired you to build the ultimate scavenger hunt to their hidden treasures, like Forrest Fenn?

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

Not yet but I'm down!

I am however, working with an author who is writing a book he's planning on optioning to netflix that has a really fun story. I'm not allowed to talk about it but I'm really excited. Hopefully it inspires more people to try to make the large scale hunts.

Red_hat_oops3 karma

How do you setup the hand-offs? Do you call cafes, pubs, etc. until you find one willing to participate? Or do you walk in 20 minutes before the adventurers arrive and hope that they are game? Do you have issues with setting up something with a host/server only for that person to not show up the day of and find yourself with an unwilling replacement?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

I'm getting some serious flashbacks with this question

Everything is prepped ahead of time with the manager. I always have a name and contact info and there is always a double check 1-2 days before the adventure.

Probably 5% - 10% of the time, I walk in an hour before their scheduled arrival and ask the host/hostess if _______ (the manager) is there or if they told them whats going on today and I get a blank stare.

At this point in time, I just bring them up to speed and bribe them (protip: always carry at least $50 in bribe money. slipping a $10 to a host or hostess can really make for a better experience). It's always worked out!

mysmileisa_rifle3 karma

This sounds amazing, and I love the details in the proof pictures. It's very immersive and well done! Do you have any tips for Rotterdam, the Netherlands? I moved here recently and am struggling to enjoy it - so maybe coming across some hidden gems does the trick.

Which cities or places were you exceptionally excited to travel to?

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

I have a colleague in Denmark. I could get you in touch if that's close!

A quick glance at trip advisor shows lots of cool sights! I would imagine moving during a pandemic has GOT to be tough. As things start to open again, I would just go explore the favorite parts.

I know it's not quite the answer you're looking for but I hope things improve for you. If it means anything, I'd kill to be able to travel to your neck of the woods!

mysmileisa_rifle3 karma

No Denmark isn't close enough, but I'll keep it in mind. I saw that you included a guide, so I'll check it out with TripAdvisor and follow something for Rotterdam. Thank you! And I hope you get to visit - it's very different from Amsterdam.

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

I'm so sorry for completely butchering the geography!

Hopefully you can find some cool spots!

monathemantis3 karma

I adore what you do. My best friends got engaged in am RPG style adventure with all of the happy couples friends taking a role and giving quests to the (clueless) groom to be. It was a lovely experience and everyone had an incredibly good time. To the question! What would you say is your biggest inspiration? Keep spreading happiness! Best of wishes to you.

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma


As far as inspirations, It's all about that fun feeling. I take a lot of ideas from videogames, TV and movies. I'll see some cool mechanic or reveal and then add it to my arsenal of ideas. Sometimes it's impossible, but usually I can try to create a real world version! It feels sooooo good when it all works out!

monathemantis7 karma

I absolutely love it!

If you care to hear, it went something like this.

Behing her (now fiancé!) boyfriend's back, my friend called and arranged an Alice In Wonderland themed adventure with all his close friends and some family in a forest nearby. She asked us each for our talents and assigned a task for us to give her fiancé, some sort of quest, mission or puzzle.

Me and another friend were the Drunken Witches, and we had a small bar with juices and alcohol set outside as the first task. He had to "brew a potion" to our liking (all 3 of us enjoy making cocktails together). She asked us to give him a hard time and make him try several different cocktails before we decide its good enough for him to get on to the next task. We gave him a small bottle with a healing potion in return, and so he went on.

The next stop was friends from his dancing classes. He had to dance with 3 nymphs of the forest to get the direction towards to the next stop. After dancing with them all, he got his BJJ belt. He was now ready for the next task.

He went and found the purple rabbit, sitting on his carpet dealing cards. He had to beat him in a game of dark humor (and kiss a skeleton?? Doctors are weird) to receive a black Humerus bone.

He continued on to do a sing-off with his brother, The Siren, and sing together 3 songs from different musicals in harmony.

After he did that, he went to find a wounded dragon, and if he decided to give him the healing potion he would receive a golden skelly-key. Edit! I forgot about that. He had to use the belt to challenge the dragon in BJJ! The dragon yielded because it was "hurt". When given the potion the dragon surrendered and gave him the key, saying they'll settle it in the gym sometime later.

He had to use the key to break the bone, which contained a puzzle piece.

He was almost done with his journey, but he had to sit for a brunch with the Mad Hatter, and play a dangerous game of choosing from either delicious vanilla or horrendous chicken bullion, seaweed, mustard and pepper muffins. (He didn't really like that one. They all had chocolate icing. He said the chicken muffin was the worst.)

After all was done, he had finally received the directions to meet the Queen of Hearts. She waited for him with several puzzle pieces, which combined with the piece inside the bone read out "are you ready for this adventure?" she then pulled a ring on him. He was shocked lol. We gave them privacy for the last bit, but we were all greeted by them shortly at the bar from the beginning, smiling and cheerful and showing rings. The wedding is next month!

Some side characters were the Water Bunny (my boyfriend in a bunny costume keeping everyone hydrated) and the Companion (who was filming the whole thing). Whenever someone was done with their part they went back to the start to share the experience and enjoy a cold drink with us witches. It was such a joyful experience and I'm just so happy I got the opportunity to be a part of. Brings a smile to my face remembering it now. Thank you for what you do.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

That. is. Incredible.

Please Post this in the r/Constructedadventures subreddit as a recap. More people need to read this!

monathemantis3 karma

I did! Thank you again for what you do. I subbed and I hope to draw inspiration from posts there!

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

YESSSSSS. I may or may not have gilded it!

eatslow_runfast3 karma

This is super interesting, props for creating these experiences that are once in a life time.

Any suggestions for an apartment treasure hunt? Currently in lockdown, so need to be creative for my partner's 30th.

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

SO MANY SUGGESTIONS! this has literally been my life for the last year. Trying to make fun things happen. Here are a few ideas:

Missing things hunt - I apologize for the bad video quality but this might have been my first video. In short, take couple items that belong in certain places. Start with a spoon on the desk with a note that says "I'm lost! Please return me to my home" And then when they open the spoon drawer, you can have a toothbrush with the same note. You can do this as many times as you like!

Map puzzle hunt - This was a great recap of a hunt someone else did. They drew out a map of their apartment and marked an X in all the places a present was hidden. Then they cut up the map and put the pieces in the envelop. Their partner needed to put together the map and then find the locations.

Let me know if those interest you. i'm happy to give you more ideas!

hecallsmedragon3 karma

This looks so fun! My partner and I have back to back birthdays and we live in San Francisco. We have places that are special to us, but you mentioned looking to build adventures here. What spots do you like?

Edit: Argh, liking not looking.

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

Im in love with the Ferry Building. The clack-clack-clacking of the ferry sign is such a distinct sound and there are some wonderful shops and food stands there. Plus from that area, you can hop on one of the railway cars (not to be confused with the Trolleys) and head over to the Giant's stadium or trek over to Coit Tower or the warf.

That area is a great jumping off point. There is also thePawn Shop. it's a really cool speakeasy in SF that i hope can open again soon!

Hope that helps!

ChrispyK3 karma

What's the one thing beginners mess up the most often when trying to make their own puzzle hunts?

Also, any Cinco De Mayo plans, aside from this AMA?

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

This biggest mistake People make is trying to make it WAYYYYYY to intricate and/difficult.

I love to preach "elegant simplicity" ESPECIALLY when they first give this a go. Even with simple adventures, there are so many moving pieces. Do everything you can to make your day streamlined and easy.

And be ready for something to go wrong!

tonoocala3 karma

How does one become a part of this secret santa?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Just sign up at www.redditgifts.com

They have a bunch of them year round! I just participate in the big one in december

schweinebauer3 karma

If your recipient is international, would you do it? If so it might be the push I needed to do it this year.

I was unaware of this despite being aware of Reddit SS for a few years. This really appeals to me.

For my boyfriends birthday a few years back, I tried setting a Lost themed dinner at my apartment. He was blindfolded and i had fake tickets as placeholders. Dinner was airline themed food and got my friend to get some extra airline cutlery (surprisingly tough, apparently). Music was songs from the show. I printed airline logos for the water and Dharma logos for the wine.

After dinner, I waited till he went to the bathroom and when I heard the sink I locked him in, and played the hatch countdown music outside. Once the countdown finished I turned off the lights and had used glow in the dark paint to draw a map on a neutral bathroom surface (mirror was too noticeable). The map used stations from the show to correspond to parts of the house (The Flame was the kitchen, The Looking Glass was the living room as it had a bay window etc). The map had an X which led to his unrelated and kinda underwhelming gift.

It doesn't sound like much if you don't know the show, but he loved the experience. You may have inspired me to take on more :-)

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Oh man PLEASE do a recap post of your LOST themed Adventure on r/Constructedadventures. It's BRILLIANT!!!

Right now I opt to stay within the continental US for secret santa (You have the option when signing up to have your giftee be in your country) However, it's a HUGE goal of mine to eventually get a giftee in another country. I'll probably have to be in contact with the RedditGifts team because I would need to plan travel long before matching day (Usually the Monday after Thanksgiving) But fingers crossed!!!

Tech_Assassin3 karma

Probably a bit late to this party but I’ll ask anyway.

How do you go about making sure no one tampers with any clues left about? Do you hire “guards” or just hope for the best?

Also have you ever done any adventures or plan to do any adventures in the UK?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Never too late! I'm going to answer every damn question in here!

How do you go about making sure no one tampers with any clues left about? Do you hire “guards” or just hope for the best?

Pretty much! There's always eyes on every package or envelope that get's dropped. my agents have explicit instructions. The most important thing is to preserve the experience HOWEVER, if players are walking up to the parcel and someone is messing with it, agents intercept the random people to ensure nothing gets ruined.

It doesn't happen as much as you'd think but it's ALWAYS on my radar. I pick spots based on how busy they were the week prior when i scouted.

Also have you ever done any adventures or plan to do any adventures in the UK?

I want to SOOOOOOOO badly but it's just about finding a client who is willing to fly me out there. I will definitely do what i can to keep the cost down for them, but international travel is inherently expensive

horribleholly3 karma

I’d love to plan one for my partner for his birthday at the end of May or Father’s Day in September. I’m in Melbourne, Australia. He is one of those people who knows something about everything, we have two little kids and we all love an adventure. Any help would be amazing!

How do you plan adventures when there are limiting factors like kids?

We have a car and are self employed so flexibility is there for almost anything.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

Oh man that does make it tricky. Whenever I do an adventure with kids involved. I like to make it more flexible (no hard deadlines) and short (maybe 2-3 hours depending on the age) Here's what I would recommend.

You start off with a full on family treasure hunt. Maybe it's 3-4 stops. I would use a map and a compass (because you can teach them about compasses and counting steps) Blacklight markers are fun and inexpensive too!

In the end, they find a chest with some sweets or fake gems/coins and maybe all the materials they'd need to build a hunt of their own! One thing i've noticed is the moment you send a kid on a treasure hunt, they immediately want to build one for someone else.

For Phase 2, you Could drop the kids off with a sitter or grandparent or someone and give your partner a more adult adventure. You could rent a nice car for the day and maybe give him a 5 step adventure that ends with a little staycation. I know sometimes the best gift you can give a parent is just a little peace and quiet!

Jonodrakon33 karma

Well, time to shoot my shot and see about constructing a new and exciting venture of my own!

You hiring?

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

I’m not but I have a whole bunch of protégés and people doing similar stuff. Shoot me an email. I’m happy to help get your started and kick over customers to you if I’m booked out. There needs to be more people creating adventures. Let me know if you’d like to chat!

StrongArm3273 karma

Your job sounds cool as hell, so how do you feel about the fact that I'm going to (probably poorly) copy your idea?

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

I feel like you should 100% copy my idea and I will literally help you do it. I’m super busy and it sucks when I have to turn away a perfectly good client.

The best part about this industry is that one persons success doesn’t mean another person’s failure. Everyone is really nice.

Message me, I’m happy to walk you through what I did so you can get started!

tonoocala2 karma

Awesome concept! I just entered your website and saw a clip of some people entering a house with guns. Do you take any precautions in case things go awry?

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

All the precautions! if there is anything remotely risky, even the police are notified to let them know. In this case it was the end of a "tongue in cheek" james bond style adventure. He played a heads up poker game against his friend who was the "villian"

Then the "Villian" sent a message about his girlfriend being a hostage and he wanted his money. it was in a very secluded area and everyone was in on it. Me and the player "breached" the door and mowed down the "villian" in a hail of Nerf darts and then extracted the GF to the debrief (The surprise party at a bar)

arevan2 karma

Ever done an Amazing Race style adventure? I'm planning a one day event, 6 teams, no eliminations. Got any pointers for things to look out for?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma


I did a livestream breaking down one of my big group games if interested. If not, here is my formula. It's not the "Be all end all" but I think it works really well.

  • Don't make it linear. It works on TV because of editing, but on a small level, you end up getting everybody blobbing from one stop to another. Plus when one group breaks free from the pack, then every group becomes disheartened.
  • Making it open ended is a much better player experience. Give all the teams a map with clues and instructions to different checkpoints. They can choose the order that they hit the points, but bottom line is that each team must hit X number of points (and get some kind of trinket) to win (or at leas move on)
  • This helps spread teams out so the have a better time!

I hope this helps! I'm happy to delve further!

Doip2 karma

So, is #100 going to be some big trick? Be funny to see you going places and planning an adventure, only to be handed an envelope at every stop

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Honestly, I really want to reach out to my first secret santa' giftee's wife and plan something extravagant for him. His great post is such a big reason why I've been so successful. I think it would be really cool to come full circle and do something for him.

We'll see!

browncapades2 karma

Ummmm okay wow this seems amazing I'm just gonna go for it...

Live in hollywood florida, near both miami and fort lauderdale. Gonna soon go on a date with this SUPER cool chick from miami who apparently lives next-to-the-beach. Ummm she DJs and is a bartender at a theatre annnnd is pretty into comedy. Oh! And she's pretty into sci fi! I feel like maybe this isn't enough information....

Oh! Me! I'm super super into hobby board games and movies annnnnd music but probably not the saaaaaame music and also sci fi I guess

Ummmm I just kinda want to be really engaged with this person while I discover what she's like if that makes any sense?

This feels like not enough information.

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

Ill see what I can do!

Also, I've been to that area. There is a mexican place on the boardwalk that has one of the better burritos I've ever eaten in my life. GOD those were good.

First and foremost, If this is a first/early date. You might not wanna take a big swing. You run the risk of:

  • Scaring her off by pulling out the big guns too early
  • Setting the bar waaaaaaaaay to high too early

One thing you could consider is doing a "choose your own adventure" style date where you have a bunch of different small ideas lined up. little things like

People watch for 15 minutes and make up at least 5 different "scenarios" based on what you see.


Go to an ice cream place and sample at least 10 different flavors, tip them, and not buy anything.

In early dates, you never want to commit to a long haul just in case You get lemon Law'd.

Give me a little bit more info!

lolboogers2 karma

How do you go about getting local shops involved? Do you just walk in to a place and say "hey if someone comes in here in a couple of days, I'll give you 50 bucks to give them this envelope"?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

In short: that's exactly what I do.

Longer answer. There's more conversation to ensure everyone is on board and prepared. Very rarely are restaurants not into it. I'm literally bringing in customers and putting a card down so they can order what they like. I always Tip 20% minimum. I'm very on top of things the day of, and always throw a little bribe money to the host/hostess to ensure a smooth arrival.

If you want to do this, just walk in when they're not busy, be friendly and assuring and see if they want to be involved. Most of the time they do!

Because_Bot_Fed2 karma

What would you do/say if your secret santa giftee was just like "Nah, sorry, puzzles and stuff aren't really my jam." ?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

I can answer this in two parts:

Firstly, these days aren't really about the puzzles, it's about not knowing what happens next. That's where the excitement lies. If it's someone who doesn't like puzzles, then the day will be more whimsical where they're whisked along from one stop to another and something delightful happens. That being said, if they really don't want to do anything, that's totally ok!

Regarding getting a giftee who wouldn't want an adventure, I sign up a few accounts and just ask my santa to donate to charity on my behalf. Then i check out the few giftees I've got and pick the one that would want this. It's probably against the rules but it's all for the best! Everyone get's a gift, however, the right person gets an Adventure!

Because_Bot_Fed2 karma

Honestly that's smart as fuck. I think what you do is super cool, but definitely not really my kinda thing. I think I'd have an OK time as a tagalong or doing it for someone else's sake (SO, friends, etc).

How big is your figurative box of "puzzles/riddles/etc that are actually trivial to figure out but make the user feel like they're really clever"? Like Skyrim tier puzzle-lock doors stuff. XD

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

Oh it's huge.

TBH the vast majority of people think that they want to be challenged but they really just want to overcome a challenge. I'm here to try to fill your brain with as much dopamine as possible on the day. Not to make you bang your head against a wall.

The mystery of what happens next takes center stage, puzzles and riddles are just two of many mechanics I like to use.

To take it a step further, I absolutely love telling someone to go somewhere and wait for further instruction. Because they get the success of getting to the location. Then they become more aware of their surroundings than they've ever been in their entire lives. They're not looking at their phone. Instead, their head is up and they are scanning for ANYTHING out of the ordinary. It's a really cool moment!

then there are all sorts of ways to pass the message. Phone call from a friend, jogger passing by. A dog that comes up. Heck, I've used otters and sloths to hand off/guard envelopes! There are so many possibilities with the "Wait for further instruction" mechanic

tkaish2 karma

Alright, now you’ve made me start planning a scavenger hunt for my husband’s birthday in a couple weeks. See what you’ve done??

facepillownap2 karma

Speaking of scavenger hunts, you aware of the batshit insane scavenger hunt that started with a trails motorbike video game?

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

I am not but I would love to hear about it!

Honestly there are so many awesome people doing cool things in this space. I love hearing about some of the crazy stuff people have pulled off!

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma


Holy shit that's AMAZING! I love full scale puzzle hunts like this. It reminds me of the IloveBees ARG that they did for Halo 2. It's such a fun kind of advertising and there needs to be more!

iwannabeMrT2 karma


squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

oh MAN well first of all there is a bunch you can do in Hawaii. It's tricky for me to give advice knowing nothing about your wife or exact location, but I do know The hawiian islands are rife with possibilities. What does she like? What brings her joy?

Start with my guide

You need to plug in potential stops in your area and then figure out ways to propel her forward

3nz3r02 karma

Sorta stumbled into this AMA from the front page. I gotta say that this is an awesome job you have!

I'd love to do something like this in my neck of the developing world once the pandemic is over and things start to open up again.

When I travel I enjoy going down the unbeaten path to discover hidden treasures like the time I was with family visiting Singapore and wound up beneath a bridge where a small flea market was set up. Bought some interesting military pins/badges and I was tempted to buy a vintage camera like the ones they had from the 1900s but that would've blown my pocket money on the 1st day.

Doing tours is such an interesting and exciting job looking at things from the outside but it seems like a big feast or famine situation particularly right now with the pandemic and all.

BTW, how did you get started on all of this?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

oh man i hit the front page?! WOOHOO

Also, i totally agree with you finding the local secret spots. They are usually way better than the touristy spots (but not always)

it can definitely be feast or famine. The Pandemic DECIMATED the travel and event industry. Here's hoping it comes back!

I got started when I built an adventure for my Reddit secret Santa giftee. it blew up and a good friend encouraged me to start a business! Now here I am!