My 9 year old is very much into mysteries. We read Nancy Drew together when she was learning to read, she loves Tin Tin, and she's started writing in code. Naturally, we had to have a Detective/Mystery Party. We, however, also got selected to host a Bejeweled and Twister party thanks to House Party at the same time so we combined them together and had a fabulous time!
Invitations: Well, we actually went online this year since we were working with House Party but that made it a little more difficult since you never know how often people check their emails. We ended up having to send out reminders to some and still didn't hear back from from a few. Its a little hard to plan a mystery when you aren't sure how many are coming! Here's what we almost sent out though: a card with a circle cut out of the front magnifying some of the words inside. Then we taped saran wrap over the circle to make it into a magnifying class. If I were to do it again, I'd just do the magnifying glass as decoration and put all the words on one page because its tricky to get it all right with the lettering- some big, some small. Its cool though.
Decorations: We had streamers of course but also footprints on the walls and question marks. I always have balloons and my 9 year old decorated them with all things mysterious.
1. Notebooks and pens- As people arrive, I always like to have something for them to do on their own so I made books with fun different covers. I then put out googly eyes, question marks, and all kinds of stickers to decorate their books. We used these books throughout the party. We also had taken some normal pens and used washi tape to decorate them!
2. Twister- Those that were done with their notebooks before we really started or didn't want to make one, played Twister. It was great. Its easy for people to jump in as they arrive (or finish up their notebooks) and its always good for a laugh. Its fun at this age, that's for sure! I don't know if you have seen the latest version, but I recommend it. The new spinner includes "spinner's choice" and "in the air." Those two things make it even more fun. Just don't choose putting your foot on your knee as everyone is bound to fall flat on their face for the next move! This was a great game to wait for people to finish and arrive. Everyone got to play and stayed busy.
3. Solving the Mystery- Before the mystery began, we took a big group picture so we could see all our suspects together (and really, its a great photo to keep). When people walked in the door, I gave them a card with their characters on them. I just used their own names to make it easier on everyone. Each card had:
- Where they are from (I choose ones with good accents and important places to us)
- Something they like to do (that might get people thinking or just fun things)
- Something they don't like (usually something suspicious)
- Why they came to the party (did they really come for the birthday girl or is there another reason)
- Their motive (why would they do it)
- A reason to suspect someone else (like I heard ____ would do anything to get out of losing a game)
- Whether or not they did it (I tried to write it small but that just made it confusing!)
I had some papers up on the wall with questions to answer at the beginning of party to help them remember who they were and also get people to start thinking of who to suspect first. People made notes in their notebooks and kept their cards inside so no one could see. We started by asking who they suspected first and had the most popular choice come to the front of the room while everyone else was sitting down. Everyone got a chance to ask questions and the suspect could answer. Everyone had a turn answering then we took votes on who they thought did it. If someone didn't get any votes, we asked if they really didn't do it and had them move to the other side of the room (of course, if the guilty party didn't get any votes, I wouldn't have done this!). We had 5 people left and another chance to ask questions before everyone knew who did it.
The mystery in our game was who stole the jewels from the game Bejeweled. There were only the green ones left because one person didn't like the color green so it was a way to throw people off.
The guilty person's card read:
"You are from Colorado and you did it. You love digging for diamonds but don't like loud music- it makes you cranky. You really want the best collection of diamonds in the world. You came to the party to check out the diamonds (but you aren't the only one) and see if they are as big as you have heard. Although you want the best, you know that ____ wants to out do you."
I threw a couple of extra clues in about the guilty guy so it was easier to figure out but I definitely had some things to throw people off. I tried to get the clues to match the games we were going to play at the party (so like you love playing games but lied about where you were going today).
This took most of our time and we ended up throwing out extra clues to get it figure out so we could move on but it was also a huge hit! I believe it took us about an hour to play. But when we did finally bring out the jewels everyone was excited and interested in playing Bejeweled.
4. Outside Relay- I always come up with an inside back up (bubble wrap is great for inside) but here's what we did outside. Everyone had to put on their detective glasses, run around an obstacle 2 times then come to a parent that was holding the Twister Rave Ringz. Each person wears two Ringz that light up in the Twister colors. The goal is to do some actions and see if you can still have matching colors when you are done. We had them clap, snap, shake, clap. The shake is what gets them. They have to repeat until the colors are matching at the end. It turned out that everyone struggled a little but it was even on each team so it was still a close call in the relay. The Ringz are fun but not my favorite. If you have lots of clapping games, and just two people, I think it would be more fun. Everyone liked them though- there were no complaints.
5. Missing objects- I had a tray of items on the table that I had people study while I got the cake ready. Then I took 5 things away and returned the tray to the table. The kids had to write in their notebooks what was missing (no touching the objects!) since detectives are supposed to be observant. They had to show me their notebooks just to make things as fair as possible since they may have thought they knew it was missing when I showed them the object again but they didn't really. The person with the most right, wins a prize. We had a 3 way tie. I like this game because I had it set up since before the party (used it as table decor) and it gets everyone sitting around the table and ready for cake.
6. Cake time and Bejeweled- Since everyone always finishes cake at different times, those that finished first could go play Bejeweled Face to Face. We love that game. Its a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I mean I love the app but I didn't know how it would work board game style but they did a really good job and there are add-ons that can make it more fun. I totally recommend it if you like those type of puzzle games. Everyone wanted to keep playing it but the allure of present opening eventually got them to stop. As far as the cake, this year I let my 9 year old decorate her own cake. It gave her some practice, fun, and confidence. She had a blast decorating it especially after watching all those Cake Boss shows (and the Next Great Baker). I think she liked telling her friends that she did the cake too. I know its not as fancy but I thought it was really great.
7. Present Time with a Game Twist- Since everyone usually begs the birthday person to open theirs first, we decided to play a hot potato type of game to see which present to open first. We used a Twister Hoopla ring and passed it around to a song. When the song stopped, the person with the ring, gave his/her present to the birthday girl. Everyone really enjoyed the game- it made it that much more fun. I also have a rule that everyone has to be on their bums before any present will be unwrapped. I know kids get so excited but then someone always feels left out when they can't see so its a good rule.
8. Pick up begins- We had parents showing up before we were even done but as they continued to arrive, the kids played more Bejeweled and Twister games. If we had more time I would have also done a Twister Dancing Game and a Sketch Artist Game where you describe the suspect and see how good they did when you show them the real picture. They would just use their notebooks so it would be easy to pull off.
9. Party Favor Punch Box- I love these punch boxes! Its gives you the fun of a pinata without the complaining of you got more than me. You cut wholes in a box a little smaller then the size of the cup you will use. You then put the party favors inside the cup and cover the top of the cup with tissue paper. Next you put all the cups in the holes and people have to punch to find their favors. I left a few empty since it was a mystery theme and had a different colored tissue paper make a question mark. Everyone always loves punching- just make sure you hold it tight! Also make sure you pushed the cups in so its a tight fit or they will all fall out! I like party favors, but I don't like doing a ton so it was just a few small things plus some Simply Natural White Cheddar Cheetos puffs (Everyone loved these!!).
That's the party! Hope it helps. I don't do a whole lot of food since I generally pick a time that's between meals but I try to have at least a small snack like those puffs. However, if you want some good food ideas or other great spy games or detective things, check out my Pinterest board for ideas. Let me know if you have any questions!