No sleuthing party would be complete without a hint of suspense. Build up your guests’ anticipation by sending out invitations that are styled to look like ransom notes using letters cut from old newspapers or magazines.
As the pint-sized PIs arrive, have each of them create their own undercover identities by making badges with their thumbprint and a code name. Hats, a pair of spectacular spectacles and fake moustaches complete the look.
Onto the training: Set up an obstacle course for the kids. In a long hallway, create a web by taping yarn across the walls at different heights. Kids need to crawl or climb through the “lasers” without touching the yarn. Next, choose a partner for each child and get them to them sit facing each other. Have each kid draw a sketch of the person across from them without looking down at their page. When they’re done, pin each profile up on a “suspects wall.”
Now it’s time for Wink Murder. Seat the kids in a circle. Choose one person to be the criminal; when she winks at another player, he’s out and must fall back. The rest of the children continue playing as they to figure out the criminal’s identity.
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Milk moustaches: Add some fun to your food table with DIY moustaches. Cut them out of black Bristol board and poke a hole through the centre before inserting a straw into each one.
Crime scene: Create a mysterious mood: Use a grey and black colour scheme, add footprints, and get yellow caution tape.
Riddle me this: Hide all of the birthday presents while the kids are playing the games. Provide some clues and have the kids go on a scavenger hunt to find the missing presents as the perfect end to this baffling bash.
Party favour: Fill a brown paper bag with a notepad, pencil, binoculars, plastic gloves and a flashlight. Fold the top down and seal. Attach an evidence tag and a pair of Groucho glasses.
A version of this article appeared in our July 2013 issue with the headline "Detective party", p.24.