Mystery Birthday Party

My oldest daughter is a reader.  She loves mystery series like Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and the Mandy series.  For her 10th birthday, we decided to create a real mystery that she and her friends could solve.  This party could be modified for boys and for different ages.   Let the sleuthing begin!


First thing I have to tell you is:   I barely had to buy a thing for this party.   Decoration was easy.  I cut out footprints and question marks out of construction paper and taped them all over.  Most of the props for the party were already in our house (vintage suitcases, mystery books, vintage typewriter, etc.)


I created the invite below using typewriter font.  You can download an editable version here.


And yes, there was a true mystery to be solved.   However, I will share the mystery in detail on another post, along with the other related party games we played.  For this post, I am going to focus on the party decor, food, and party favors.


To set the scene, I taped cut-out footprints on the floor leading from the front door into the dining room.  The colors were mainly blue and green.


So, here’s the Mystery Party tablescape.  I simply stacked lots of mystery books (Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Sherlock Holmes), used a few vintage suitcases, candles, and magnifying glasses from Dollar Tree, and spread out a vintage Clue game board and a few game pieces to set the scene.  The most money I spent was for the helium-filled balloons (about $15).





I had my kids cut out letters from magazines to create labels for the food we served.  The result was a “kidnap letter” effect.   We had “fingerprints” (sausage pinwheels).


We also had “poisoned fruitcups” and “mystery cheese.”


I made my famous shortbread cookies (find the recipe here) and simply piped a question mark of each of them, dubbing them “get-a-clue cookies.”


Happily, this was one easy “super sleuth”  cake.  It was a rainy weekend, and I knew my homemade icing would be a disaster.  I made one small round and one small rectangular cake, using one cake mix.  I used 2 cans of cream cheese frosting – I simply dyed one can to get the blue I wanted.  I took black licorice and cut it lengthwise with kitchen shears to get thin black strips to create the fingerprint in the center of the magnifying glass.  I could of done it with icing, but this was easier!


I took manilla folders and labeled them TOP SECRET! and CONFIDENTIAL!! and stapled the sides closed.  Then I slid in the party favors:  a magnifying glass from Dollar Tree, a word-find book from the Target dollar aisle, fake eyeglasses from a party pack also from Target, and a retro Nancy Drew paper doll page downloaded free from Tangarang.


Here are the girls sporting their new disguises and magnifying glasses!  They were definitely a band of super-sleuths.

Click here for the post detailing the mystery I created and the other party games the children played!

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26 thoughts on “Mystery Birthday Party

  1. Spongebob T shirt says:

    As a Newbie, I’m continually searching online for articles in which can assist me. Thank you

  2. PAM C says:

    You are one super Mom and that was an amazing party. I know all the girls and your super sleuth had a great time. Can’t wait to hear and see more.

  3. Regina Wildun says:

    WOW Kristie!! I had a spy party for Ashlin when she was 11 and it was VERY similar to this one! We should share birthday party ideas! I did a question mark cake and each girl got a black brief case with all their detective things they needed to solve the mystery! HOW MUCH FUN!! I bet Audrey had a blast! I am planning on doing Ashlin’s spy party again for Chelstin’s 11th this year!

    It was sure fun to see you at the Paint Along! Told you you are an artist!!

  4. kristiebarnett says:

    thanks, regina! i am posting the part II to this post later this week – it’ll describe the whole mystery we concocted for the girls to solve, as well as a few other party activities. i had a blast at the paint party!!!

  5. Pingback: Party Proposals: Mystery Birthday Party (Part II)

  6. Beth says:

    I am having my super sleuth party tomorrow and I just wanted to thank you for making my life so much easier by sharing your WONDERFUL ideas. My daughter is going to have such a special #10! Thank you!!

  7. Wendy M says:

    I’m planning a Mystery Birthday Party for my kids in a few weeks. I downloaded the invite you made (thanks for idea, by the way!). I wanted to ask what size did you print it on? I have printed it and it is have the page, but does not cover the full 8 1/2 width. I’ve adjusted the margins, etc. Got any suggestions? Thanks for all the great ideas, my kids are very excited about their upcoming party.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      I have no clue – I printed it onto card stock and trimmed it down from there. I’m thinking the card stock was about half the size of a standard piece of paper. Good luck and have fun!

      • Wendy M says:

        Thanks for the tip! I was wondering if I would have to trim the invite. Thank goodness for a paper slicer! Thanks again for all the great tips! Your blog is wonderful and great for us busy moms!

  8. Jes says:

    I’m planning a detective/FBI party for my 9 year old…love the fingerprint pinwheels and cake ideas…thanks!

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