Mystery & Detective Party | Ideas and Inspiration

Hello and welcome to this post about ultimate ideas for the best, creative detective and mystery parties for little ones.

This post is packed with ideas, links to ideas, and helpful party tips to give your child the funn-est detective day while keeping parents happy and stress free!

I’m Zoe, and before becoming a mom and starting Parties Universe blog I was a professional kid’s party organiser and host for 9 years. I know what works and what doesn’t, and this site is my way of sharing with you the tried and tested tricks!

These detective party games and activities should suit kids ranging from about 3-8 years old, and you can adapt or simplify any of the games to suit your child’s level of fun. Let’s go…

Detective Theme Party games

1. Sneaking practice: Detective trainer footsteps!

This game is like grandmother’s footsteps. Kids line up along one side of the room and at the other one child is designated detective trainer. The detective trainer faces the wall- not looking at the children.

While the detective trainer is turned away, the kids tiptoe forwards and as soon as the detective trainer turns around, they have to freeze. If they catch anyone moving, kids can be sent out or back to the start line.

The child who manages to tap the detective trainer on the shoulder wins! You can usually play a few rounds of this game.

2. Wink Murder

Children stand or sit in a circle and at the start of the round they close their eyes and the facilitator taps one child as the designated murderer and one child as the detective. The detective stands in the middle of the circle.

Whenever the murderer winks at someone else in the circle they have to pretend to die a dramatic death. The Detective has to guess who the murderer is before they kill everyone!

This is a really fun game and kids love faking the most elaborate dramatic deaths!

3. Day in the life of a detective

In this game, the facilitator shouts out the actions below that a detective might have to do on a regular day children must follow the instructions for each action. The last ones to follow the actions are out and the game continues!

  • Off to the police station – Children run to one side of the room
  • Call to a crime scene – Children run to the other side of the room
  • Case notes – Pretend to write furiously in a notebook
  • Stake out– Children pretend to peer through binoculars
  • CCTV!– Children drop to the flaw and begin crawling, out of sight of the CCTV camera
  • Mystery solved- Children fist pump the air and shout ‘Case closed!’

This is a fun, high concentration and physical game- you can always take out one of two of these actions to simplify it for younger children, or reward the fastest child to avoid having to send people ‘out’.

4. Musical blend in

This game is a bit like musical statues, but it’s built like a training game for detectives. They dance like crazy and when the music stops, the facilitator calls out a type of character and the detectives have to pretend to be one of those characters to blend in.

Characters you could call: joggers, someone driving a car, a mom with a pram, a lazy teenager, a toddler, a building painter, a rock star playing air guitar… or any more you make up.

In the game you can reward the best acting for each round- it will be funny for the kids, particularly if you choose funny things for them to act out (like a grumpy teacher!)

5. Detective Detective Mystery

This game is similar to duck duck goose but with a theme. It’s a great one to play as children arrive (or as children might get tired of lunchtime at different rates) as new players can easily join and it’s fun and familiar to them. Children sit in a circle facing inwards.

Child A walks around the outside of the circle and gently taps the group one by one on the head as they pass saying detective, detective, detective…..then, they choose one child (child B) to say mystery!

Child B jumps up and chases Child A around the circle. Child A has to run around the whole group and sit back in Child B’s space. If they manage, Child B becomes Child A in the next round. Otherwise, Child A has to play again until they succeed.

If your kid is into adventure and mystery, you might also like to check out our Witches and Wizards Party, or our Outer Space Adventure Party!

Detective Party Activities

1. Detective School

In the detective training school, the little detective can strengthen their puzzle-solving, memory, and code breaking skills. Here are 4 options for fun challenges that will test the kid’s detective skills and train them up!

We suggest splitting the big group into 3 smaller groups and have them rotate on stations for these different activities. Each could last between 5 and 7 minutes and then the kids can switch.

Detective Skill 1: Memory test

This game is known as Kim’s game. On a tray, covered with a cloth are a series of small household items. Children have 20 seconds to study the items and then they are covered up again and children write down as many of them as they can remember.

They can either work against each other or together! If they need it, they can have another 5-second peek, as many times as needed until they’ve completed the task of memorising all the objects!

Detective Skill 2: Lemon juice secret messages

Have a little bowl of lemon juice and paintbrushes. Children write secret messages (or draw secret pictures) in lemon juice on pieces of paper.

They put the paper in a hat and then each child chooses one piece out of the hat and (under adult supervision) holds it over a candle to reveal the secret!

If children have the ability to draw or write recognisable things, you can have them write in code a secret detail about them- and have the other guess who it is. For instance, if ‘Tom’ loves ‘football’, he might draw a football and the other kids will make the association and connect it to Tom.

This will be harder for younger children- so for them just enjoy the magic of the secret uncovering!

Detective Skill 3: Puzzle time

This station is for puzzling. If you can find a puzzle between 24-50 pieces (depending on the age of the children) they could possibly finish it, or at least complete enough to figure out what the image is within the time limit. Kids have to work together for this one- also good skill building!

Alternatively, you can give them a little space shape puzzle such as these on amazon to complete at this station, and if they manage the first picture, you can pick the second.

2. Solve a real murder mystery Puzzle

You can have a search online for a pre-prepared adventure mystery pack that will let the kids at the party solve a real-life mystery! This will be the ultimate birthday activity challenge!

We are working on creating our own at Parties Universe, but until then there are some other sites doing similar that you can check out; Free form games offer ideas mostly for children aged 8+, Tiny mysteries Inc also offer some picture options for younger kids or Growing Play offer a fingerprint mystery.

3. Murder mystery story-time

There are loads of brilliant mystery stories out there that you could read aloud to the kids, helping them guess the mystery and enjoy sharing the story together. This might be better suited to younger kids.

Here are our suggestions of the best kid’s mystery detective picture books:

  • “Detective Dog” by Julia Donaldson – Follow the adventures of Detective Dog Nell as she solves the case of the missing books at the local school.
  • “The Mystery of the Missing Cake” by Claudia Rueda – Little Bunny and her friends team up to solve the mystery of the missing cake in this delightful picture book.
  • “Where’s My Teddy?” by Jez Alborough – A little boy named Eddy goes on a mysterious adventure to find his missing teddy bear in the dark woods.
  • “Pierre the Maze Detective: The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone” by Hiro Kamigaki. Kids will enjoy searching for clues and solving mazes in this beautifully illustrated picture book.
  • “Splat Secret Agent!” by Rob Scotton – Follow Splat the Cat as he becomes a secret agent to solve a mystery at school.

Detective Party Decorations

We have 5 top tips for detective party decorations:

  1. Detective costume props. These are the ultimate interactive decorations and will add so much theme into the party. For a detective party, we love these stick-on moustaches, rear-view detective-spy glasses, magnifying glasses, or these small detective hats! You could also add little notebooks and pens to the list!
  2. Backdrops for photos, such as this mugshot background or this detective board background! these fill large walls with decoration and are also fun to use!
  3. Detective tape. This is fun and will make the room instantly feel detective-esque. It’s also practical is there are certain areas kids should avoid- like with ornaments or expensive tech!
  4. Detective music! Nothing created a better atmosphere in a space than music, particularly detective, code-breaking music while the kids are playing and as they arrive for effect! We have found a few free youtube music complications that you might love to check out: Detective Background Music and Thriller Suspense Music.
  5. Themed labels on snacks food and drink. We suggest: Crime crisps, surveillance sausages, Puzzling Pizza-whirls, Detective Dip, Clue-filled Cake, Mystery Muffins, Sherlock Sandwiches or suspect skewers. This spy-party post has some other great examples!

Good luck!

We really hope we’ve given you some great ideas and inspiration for this detectives party

We have also created a step-by-step guide with a timeline for planning a kid’s party which includes this PDF party planning checklist, and a PDF list of tasks you can be delegating. These are ALL FREE, and don’t even take your emails so follow the links above to grab them.

Above all, make sure you are present for your child and that they are having fun!

Birthdays and parties should be joyous, not stressful, so only arrange what feels fun for you- your kids will have fun if you have fun!

Best of luck, Zoe xx

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