My husband and I knew that planning an amazing race party for 25 teens was going to be complex, especially coming up with Amazing Race type challenges.
This was by far the most involved birthday party we’ve ever thrown, but it was also one of the most fun.
If you’re planning an Amazing Race party we hope that our work will make your party more fun and that your party is one of the best birthday parties you’ve ever thrown.
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In this post, I share all about the games and challenges we choose for our Amazing Race party and how we managed 25 guests through them.
Check out the full guide:
All the printables for this party are available in my shop.
What are Amazing Race Party Challenges?
For the uninitiated out there, the “The Amazing Race” TV show has its own lingo and its own set of clue cards. Each clue card asks you do accomplish a different type of task.
You can find editable Amazing Race clue card templates in my shop so making your own at home is a breeze.
So here’s what the various Amazing Race Clue Cards mean. (Note: We only used the first 3 cards for our party).
Just how it sounds, the blue Route Info card lets you know where to go next. You get a route info card at the very beginning of the race, and one after each challenge.
A detour comes on an orange card and gives the team the choice between 2 challenges to complete, each with its own pros and cons. The team chooses the one they think they can complete fastest but can switch to the other challenge if necessary.
A Road Block comes on a red card and lists a basic challenge. The card will let you know who is to complete the challenge and what to do to complete it.
A Speed Bump is a task that a team must perform as a penalty for arriving last at the last pit stop. (We didn’t use a Speed bump in our party).
The Fast Forward is a task that only one team can perform and once completed the team can bypass all the remaining tasks and go immediately to the finish line. (We didn’t use a Fast Pass for our party either).
Tips on How to Manage Your Amazing Race Party
The main idea is this: A team gets a Route Info card, goes to where the card tells them to go. There, they find a Clue Box with the challenge cards inside. The challenge cards are all the same and you’ll need one for each team. They complete the challenge then check in with the Crew Member who gives them their next Route Info card. And so on, until one team has completed all the challenges and can go to the Pit Stop mat.
Put All Your Ideas in One Place
With all its moving parts, having a birthday party planner for this party was invaluable. It got everything out of my head and on to paper in an organized manner. I created my Ultimate Birthday Party Planner during this party and it saved me an amazing amount time and stress because I knew that I had everything laid out in front of me and I hadn’t forgotten anything.
You don’t have to use my planner but I’d encourage you find one you like. Mine will save you time and aggravation and you can get the Ultimate Birthday Party Planner for your next birthday party from my shop or sign up to my email newsletter below and get a chance to buy it at an exclusive discount.
There was no way to manage the Amazing Race challenges without help. So I asked 4 of the guests’ moms to be Crew Members on the day of the party and manage 1 part of the route.
With my husband manning one of the challenges, this freed me to inspect the Road Blocks and Detours while the race was going and make sure everything was running smoothly. It also freed me up to take pictures.
Plan the Route Well
Each team was given a map with their first route info card. We had challenges in our backyard, inside the house and a couple in the nearby park.
We had 5 teams and so created 5 challenges. We decided to send each team to start at different challenge as to not have too many bottlenecks. Once they went around the 5 challenge circuit, their instruction was to go back to the backyard.
So, the first envelopes for each team contained a map and a Route Info card directing them to the challenge they were supposed to start with. We found these great yellow #10 envelopes on line and they worked perfect.
Then, every Route Info card they were given after that had this note at the bottom:
“IMPORTANT: If you’ve already been to the challenge above, make your way directly to the Pit Stop Mat in the backyard.”
That way I only had to create ONE circuit. Each team would start at a different point in the circuit but all would end up in the backyard once they had accomplished all the challenges.
After we planned the challenges and the route on paper, my husband and I did a complete walkthrough adding the time we thought it was going to take to complete each task. This turned into a literal “run-through” so we were tired at the end. But I’m so glad we spent the time to do this. I was able to schedule the rest of the party with much more accuracy. I ended up being right on time with nearly everything. That’s why I really advocate having a party schedule. It will save you so much stress on the day of the party.
Make Simple Clue Boxes
Each challenge area had a prominent clue box with the challenges inside and a crew member manning it who handed out the route info to the team once they completed their challenge.
Our clue boxes were made from a simple sheet of black construction paper folding in half and stapled to a Route Marker (A Printable route marker is included with the clue card printables).
Set Up the Teams Ahead of Time
With 25 guests we knew that we couldn’t manage teams of 2 like they have on the show. So we decided to have 5 teams of 5.
We choose the teams ahead of time making sure that the members of each team knew each other well.
I made 25 plain bandanas with squares of fabric in 5 different colors.
When the girls arrived, they were assigned to a colored team and asked to design their own team bandanas with fabric markers.
This made for a fun craft and solidified the team spirit before the race began.
Consider a Break Time
We wanted to have an exciting race, but we also knew that some teams were going to be much slower than others. We were afraid that once one team had made a full circuit and won, most of the teams would stop playing, and we didn’t want that to happen.
So we decided to have a planned break, one of those reset events that also happens in The Amazing Race where even the slow teams have time to catch up to the fast teams and the last couple of challenges are done all together.
So in essence we had two winning teams. We had the team that finished the Round 1 circuit first and then the team that won the last two challenges after our planned break time.
Round 1: The Amazing Race challenges in the circuit:
Find Your Shoes
When the girls first came in the door I had a mom “crew member” get their shoes and pile them up outside in front of the garage door. When the race started, we lined up all the teams on the driveway and their first challenge was to pull their own shoes out of the pile and put them on. They then had to grab their first route info envelope out of a tree branch nearby.
This made for a chaotic but fun and exciting start of the race.
From then on each team was on their own path going to separate challenges.
Detour – Find it Copper or Find it Carbs
Here the girls had to make a choice between two tasks. We told them they were able to switch tasks in the middle if they chose.
For “Find it Copper” we prepared a bowl full of pennies with only a couple of pennies minted in our daughter’s birth years. The goal was for them to find one penny minted in each birth year.
For “Find it Carbs” we put 25 little paper cups on a tray with just enough Rice Krispies to cover the bottom of the cup. 2 of the cups on the tray were marked on the inside bottom with yellow and red stripes. The idea was that the whole team could participate but they had to eat the contents of each cup that they touched to find the marked cup and get their next clue.
Surprisingly every single team chose “Find it Carbs”. And to our amazement, one team didn’t immediately dive into the task but instead put their hands behind their backs and carefully examined the contents of the tray. They identified the correct cup from the color peeking out through the Rice Krispies then carefully lifted out the right cup, ate its contents, and were done with the challenge. I was VERY impressed. Enthusiasm and brawn are awesome but brains are nearly always the best resource.
To reset the tray quickly we prepared several dozen more cups with Rice Krispies so that the crew member was ready for the next team to arrive. Considering everyone did this challenge we were VERY grateful for that preparation.
Road Block: Shake Your Booty.
Just Dance on WII is a game that we play in our house quite a bit. So we thought it would be fun to make a challenge that included one of our kids favorite pastimes.
We decided on a song and dance that we thought was not too difficult. I had personally never tried this dance before so I did it myself to gauge how well a newbie might do. We had a crew member set up the song and told the teams that 2 team members needed to perform the task and that the dancers had to get 6 combined stars to receive their next clue.
But I wasn’t prepared for how bad the girls were going to be at this challenge. It took some of the teams three separate, frustrating attempts to get the score needed. It was hilarious to realize that young, athletic girls were so poor at this. I stood in awe as attempt after attempt these kids were scoring worse than I had. I’m sure that with a little practice they’d all beat me handily but maybe that goes to show the difference that a little experience can offer.
It did make this roadblock kind of a bottleneck. If I had to do it again I would require a lower score, and I would have let any team that was waiting take a turn if the team in front of them failed to pass the challenge.
After three attempts, if a team didn’t get the score required, we had mercy on them and let them advance anyway.
Detour: Stack it High or Stack it Low
I had a mom helper set up next to benches in the park and the challenge here was to choose between “Stack it High”, making one stack of 10 empty aluminum cans that would stand untouched for 10 seconds, or “Stack it Low” making a stack of 10 cards in a pre-determined formation that would also stand on its own for 10 seconds.
We had tried both of these challenges at home and although each was a bit challenging, they didn’t seem very difficult. I did not, however, take the breeze into consideration. Even though we only had a little breeze that day, it was enough to cause a serious problem for the girls.
But those clever kiddos found a solution. Each team divided in two with some girls creating a wind shield with their bodies while the others stacked the cans or the cards. One extra clever team chose to stack the cards in the grass, making it far easier to guarantee that they stayed put.
I loved how the girls didn’t whine about the situation but found creative solutions to their problems. That’s an excellent trait and I very much want to encourage it.
Road block: Count it
After running to the park and finding the clue box the girls had to count various things around the park. They first had to read a “General Rules and Guidelines” sign and find the number of times the word “the” appeared. They also had to count the number of green flags and crocodiles in a Where’s Waldo drawing we have next to the play equipment. Finally they had to count the number of tables in the park and the number of dog poop bag dispensers.
Each of those tasks was wonderfully tougher than it sounds. My husband and I read and re-read and re-re-re-read that sign before we were confident of the answer. And some dastardly park designer conveniently placed one of the bag dispensers behind a tree.
Road Block: Crazy Smoothie
This one was fun. We had each team make a smoothie with a variety of ingredients without telling them who would have to drink it.
I set out all kinds of ingredients and a basic recipe they had to follow including ice, 1 cup of milk, and at least 5 ingredients. I didn’t want a team to squirt the whole bottle of mustard in the smoothie, so I had labels on all the ingredients limiting their usage. And of course, I had another mom in the kitchen making sure everything went smoothie-ly.
We evenly marked glasses so each smoothie would be exactly the same volume to make it fair at the end.
Round 2: The Last 2 Challenges
We had one team dominate the circuit and they won Round 1 decisively. We then had a snack break waiting for all of the teams to come back.
Then we explained the last two challenges to the teams. They were simple and the first team to finish them was to run to the nearby Pit Stop mat.
Drink the Smoothies
We randomly lined up all the smoothies from Round 1, then each team, in the order that they’d completed Round 1, choose a smoothie to drink.
If the team knew they had made a yummy smoothie and could recognize it, they could choose it if it was still available. If not, they were stuck with a smoothie made by a different team.
The goal had been to be a bit vague about who would end up drinking the smoothies in the hope that a few teams would make perfectly delicious ones and a few might make a ketchup, pickle and corn syrup special. Unfortunately, all the teams used palatable combinations of ingredients and no one had to drink anything too gross. One team was even alert enough that they recognized the color of the smoothie they’d made and chose that one, confident that it was free of any oddball adulteration.
Back to Back Water Balloon Race
We placed a bucket full of water balloons for each team at one end of our yard and an empty bucket on the other end.
The goal was for each team to place 10 water balloons in the empty bucket but they could only do it with the balloon tucked between their backs.
So two girls would go back to back, place a water balloon in between, interlock their arms, and then carefully walk to the empty bucket where they had to gently drop the balloon without popping it.
The first team to get all the water balloons in the empty bucket ran to the winners mat.
And as expected, all the teams stopped once a winner was announced, everyone picked up a water balloon and immediately our back yard descended into mayhem. It was awesome.
The girls were exhausted after a couple of hours of running around, so we had cake and lined them all up for the grande finale, the roaming gnome piñata.
All the girls had such a good time, I hope we have inspired you to plan your own Amazing Race Party.
Go check out the rest of this exciting party:
- The Amazing Race Party Decorations Ideas
- How to Make a Roaming Gnome Piñata
- How to Make an Amazing Race Pit Stop Mat
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