It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

GISHWHES Introductory Post: 2016

It’s about that time.

Once a year, I participate in the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, more colloquially known as GISHWHES.  This scavenger hunt is an international event of tomfoolery and shenanigans, hosted by actor and philanthropist Misha Collins (Supernatural) to raise awareness for his non-profit organization, Random Acts.  Random Acts’ mission is to conquer the world, one random act of kindness at a time.  GISHWHES’ mission is to prove that “normalcy” is overrated and that true “living” can be found hidden under the rocks of community artistic creation, acts of artistic sublime public performances, and random acts of kindness.

This year from July 30th through August 6th will be my fourth year participating in GISHWHES.  Last year, Team FreeWill took one of fifteen Runner Up awards, tying with the likes of William Shatner and the Property Brothers.  This year, we intend to go all the way (we really want the winning trip to Iceland with Misha.)

The thing about GISHWHES is that there really isn’t a good way you can prepare for the madness.  I mean, there are certainly items that have remarkable similarities year after year.  For example;

I know, after four years, that I will always need access to a Stormtrooper.

2014 Stormtrooper

2014: It’s “me time.” Spoil, pamper and be decadent to yourself like you never have before. Oh, and P.S., you’re dressed as a Stormtrooper.

2015 Stormtrooper

Work opportunities are scarce since the Death Star blew up. Let’s see a Stormtrooper working at their job as a waiter, fast food line prep, car mechanic, postal worker, deli sandwich maker, road-repair worker, etc).


I know that there’s a very large chance I will need a group of more than 10 people at least once.

2014: Large Group Item

2014: VIDEO (slow motion). Set to opera music, stage a water balloon fight between 10 or more participants all wearing business suits.

2015 Cinnamon Roll Hug

2015: VIDEO. Let’s see 10 people wearing sock monkey hats do a “cinnamon roll” hug.


I know that there is always an item where clothing must be made out of odd material such as candy, flowers, or construction paper.

2014 Candy Bathing Suit

2014: You at the beach, pool or on a boat, wearing a homemade, 99% edible, candy bathing suit.

2015 Flower Dress

2015: Create a cocktail dress or tux out of flowers (you can use foliage, but at least 50% needs to be flowers). Photograph yourself in a contrasting “greenless” urban setting.

2015 Construction Paper Dress

2015: You’ve just received an invitation to the annual Color Me Pretty Construction Paper Gala. Design and wear an elegant gown consisting of only construction paper. You must be posed with a antique or hot-rod car/motorcycle (that will take you to the Gala, of course) or in front of the Gala itself which takes place in the most stunning public building of your city.


There will always be an artistic item with…let’s say unconventional materials.

2015 RDJ

2015: Let’s see a portrait of Robert Downey, Jr. or Ironman made entirely of salt and pepper. Tweet it to him (@robertdowneyjr) with @gishwhes in the tweet.


I will definitely need celebrities or contacts from a variety of sectors such as NASA, the Government (both local and federal,) actors, social media gurus, and award winners (of all types).

2014: NYT Best-Selling Author

2014: VIDEO. A NYT best-selling author or Tony-award winning actor or actress doing a dramatic reading of a section of this:…

2015: Musical Theater Stars

2015: VIDEO. (Video may be up to 60 seconds.) “La Corte Suprema.” The US Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality is an event worthy of a Broadway musical. Get two professional musical theater stars to rehearse singing the text of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion and the dissenting opinions on a stage in a large auditorium or theater. Bonus points if you have a large audience.

2015 Master Somalier

2015: There are roughly only 150 Sommeliers on the planet who have received the highest distinction a professional can attain in fine wine and are accordingly classified as “Master Sommeliers.” Get a picture of you with a current Master Sommelier sipping pure kale (or cabbage) juice from a wine glass. Caption the image with “NAME OF SOMMELIER, renowned Master Sommelier says the official drink of Gishwhes is..” And then finish the caption with the sommelier’s review of the juice.

2015 DJ King Assassin

2015: Get Taylor Swift or any musician with over 5 million followers to publicly announce she/he loves supernatural.

And there will always be a sculpting item that requires feminine hygiene products.

2014 Angel

2014: An angel made from feminine hygiene products.

2015 Snoopy

2015: They say, “A dog is a man’s best friend,” but they are sexist. Dogs can be women’s best friends too. To prove it, make one entirely out of feminine hygiene products. The dog must be at least 40 centimeters tall.


But really, in a list of over 200 items, everything is fair game.  Last year, I was asked to go on a 10-state road-trip.  Immediately excited, I planned it to a T and executed it in two days with my trusty side-kick, Rosita.

2015 Road Trip

2015: Time for the first annual (and possibly last ever) gishwhes Road Trip! Grab a friend and visit at least 9 (the more the merrier) of the points on the “Great American Road Trip” map. Have a passing tourist take a picture of you and your friend at each landmark (no selfies). Make sure we can see the landmark of each spot as part of the picture. You MUST REPLICATE the same pose for each photo and the pose you pick MUST be one that will make your tourist photographers laugh. Edit all images into a grid and as one image. It must be the same two people in the same pose and the same wardrobe at each location.

As exciting as that sounds, the road-trip item was just one item on a list of 215 tasks, missions, and works of art our team had to accomplish and create.  Each item is assigned a point value.  However, competitive teams have worked out that there is a science to GISHWHES.  We’ve learned that winning isn’t just about quantity.  In fact, quality rules the day.  Judges will add up to 100% bonus points for pictures that are executed well, originality, and making them laugh.  It’s not enough to accomplish the task, one must set the scene and take a good quality (in-focus) photo.  So do you ditch the 111 point road-trip item that will take two days in favor of two easier to accomplish 75 point items?  And when you’re in a team of 15, how do you separate the list out equally to keep each person busy with their own varied skill-set throughout the week?

Team FreeWill thinks we’ve got the winning formula and this year?  Well, this year—it’s on.


P.S. If you want more information about GISHWHES or you are willing to help out this year, let me know in the comments.


Author: alisonlcohn

Graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Communications Advertising. Traveled a bit. Taught for two years. Administered aptitude tests for a while. Worked as a Training Associate for Guardian Mortgage and a Quiz Master for Geeks Who Drink. Obtained my Master's in Film, Television and Screen Media in London, England. Now working as a small-group travel coordinator. Nice to meet you!

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