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Creative ideas for a detective theme party

21. September 2018 - Anika Semmer

Detective Theme Party – 10 Clues to Turn a Birthday Into an Thrilling Case


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A real detective theme party is exciting, thrilling and full of surprises, it challenges the grey cells of the young detectives, offers action and adventure. So it becomes an exciting case for the kids.

Your child is curious, not a pushover, loves mysteries and would love to get to the bottom of everything? A detective theme party with creative, exciting surprises, mysterious riddles and exciting games is incredibly fun for bright sleuths. A detective party for a child’s birthday thrives on special ideas and detective equipment – to save time, here are some ideas and tips on what you need to prepare and organise it well.

At the children’s birthday party, the children slip into the skin of real detectives, decipher mysterious messages in secret ink, observe, question witnesses, search for clues, take fingerprints and secure evidence, solve several small tricky puzzles or a big case, depending on their age, and experience a real adventure. The detective theme party can take place both indoors and outdoors – with a real gangster hunt or search for the loot of a big jewel heist, the detective theme party should have a treasure hunt for children’s birthday party with an outdoor theme as the main programme item.

Tip: For detective-loving teenagers, we recommend an Escape Game as a surprise birthday outing  – we’ve played many Escape Rooms in Berlin and you can get a good idea if this would be an idea. What exactly Room Escape Games are you can find out here.

The 10 Clues for an Exciting Detective Theme Party

Ideas for a detective theme party for a child's birthday

Ideas for a detective party for a child’s birthday

1. Planning and Organisation of Your Detective Theme Party

Just like a case, the planning starts with the good old Questions. Combine where, what, how, when should take place and you can start preparing.

The most important questions to decide first are:

  • Where does the detective party take place? Inside or outside?
  • When does it take place? At noon / in the evening / at night?
  • What should happen? Several small detective games or one big case?
  • What accessories / clues / detective material do I need?
  • How much time do I have for games?
  • What will there be to eat and drink?
  • What kind of gifts should there be?

2. Several Detective Games vs. One Big Case

An exciting detective theme party thrives on age-appropriate original games, excitement and adventure. The children are supposed to solve riddles, uncover secrets and solve cases – and you have to prepare them first. That’s why it’s a good idea to think carefully in advance about the games and activities that await the detectives and to order everything you need for them in a department store or online, e.g. at amazon*.

For small detectives up to 7 years there are nice entertaining, varied detective games – 5 concrete game ideas follow below in the text.

For a detective theme party for children from 7 years, a big case with a story is recommended as the programme. Behind every case is a story of fateful events. The more exciting and mysterious they are, the more they captivate young and old detectives alike and make us fever, puzzle and strain our grey cells. That’s why it’s advisable to come up with an overarching story for the detective party for children aged 7 and over, which is the main point of the detective theme party.

As with TKKG, the “Knickerbockerbande” or the Three ???, a real case takes place at the children’s birthday party and the kids go in search of clues to solve a big case together – in the form of a scavenger hunt of a special kind. You can find concrete ideas for implementation under point 8.

3. Invitation to a Detective Theme Party

Your child is still your partner in crime and you should design the invitation together with him or her. It should be immediately clear that it is a detective theme party and if the children are to bring detective wardrobe or, for example, a magnifying glass and compass, you should make a note of this.

With older children, it is worth not giving any hints about the specific case in the invitation yet – the birthday child himself should be just as surprised by the case as his guests!

Ideas for Designing the Invitation to the Detective Theme Party

  • Write the invitation text as a code, send the decoding key for it separately by SMS or hide a coding disc (see link below) at a location indicated with coordinates as the first exciting task
  • Write the invitation text, travel it in snippets and drop it in the envelope to puzzle together
  • Make a profile for the birthday child with your child, which you copy
  • Fill in the invitation cards, e.g. with a magnifying glass or handcuffs as a short profile

*

4. Decoration and Atmosphere for the Detective Theme Party

For a detective party for younger children that takes place indoors, it is worth getting suitable decorations.  Dress-up accessories such as fake beards, glasses, hats, FBI items and objects that the children can play with are particularly suitable.

5. Detective Outfit and Equipment for the Detective Theme Party

Getting into the role of great master detectives requires the right outfit and equipment. Set out accessories to dress up – you can make it super useful for older children by having them disguise themselves for a task and one has to wear a certain moustache, glasses, hat and trench coat to get an important clue from a neighbour, for example. And some equipment the detectives need to solve the case.

Tip: You want to have a real gangster hunt (where e.g. your husband is the gangster)? This will definitely work if you are the “control centre” and equip the children and yourself with a walkie talkie to communicate with each other and give the kids tips if they get stuck on their own. But make sure you know the range of the walkie talkie (e.g. 3 or 6 km)!

6. Your Own FBI/Detective ID

Everyone makes their own detective ID card with a code name. Logically, you have to show it (e.g. to neighbours) to identify yourself when you need information.

For this, you ask for forms the size of lapel cards, which the children fill in and pin on themselves – small children can each draw themselves as a detective.

Tip: Ask the children to address each other only by their code names and point out that it is very useful to use them to solve the case.

7. A Surprise Makes You Want to Go

Something strange happens. Only you and your detective friends can help – it’s up to you! And then there are some discrepancies, riddles, questions crying out for answers. And the kids are already in the middle of their case and the detective party is a sure-fire success. With a big bang, an unforeseen surprise at the beginning, you create the ideal starting situation.

The Mysterious Parcel

Pack the first clues for the case / your detective gangster hunt / treasure hunt in a box with some items that are still needed and a mysterious message that names the task and the goal of the treasure hunt. You can also include a padlocked box with another clue, a torch and other items that may or may not come in handy. A neighbour then brings the parcel, rings the doorbell and simply leaves it at the door. On the outside of the parcel there should be notes such as: Top secret! Attention! etc. on the outside of the parcel to whet the appetite.

8. Detective Games and Cases

5 Entertaining Detective Games for Younger Children

  • Murder in the Dark is a party game for the detective party where a murder happens in the disco. Who is the murderer? Check out the full instructions here Murder in the Dark in different variations.
  • Search for the stolen goods – Treasure hunt in the house with simple clues like arrows etc.
  • Collect fingerprints and convict a thief – which fingerprint matches?
  • Search game Where is the clue? The little detectives close their eyes. An object, e.g. a bumblebee, is now hidden in the room. The person who finds the bumblebee – the clue – sits down. The last person to sit down gets to hide the clue again.
  • The phantom picture: You identify a suspected crook among the children and describe this child with distinctive features but not too simple – blond curls, mischievous smile, gap in the teeth etc. All the children now draw the suspect. All the children now paint the suspect according to their own ideas – the results are sure to cause a lot of laughter.

Gangster Hunt and Treasure Hunt for Children From 7 Years

  • For the Gangster Hunt, an adult plays the gangster. You provide him with clues and tasks for a scavenger hunt. As a moving target, he can also observe the young detectives and lead them around by the nose – and of course you can also feed him information. Check out the tips for tasks and challenging hiding places for the scavenger hunt for adults that you can easily adapt. Be careful not to overwhelm the children!
  • The treasure hunt becomes an exciting search for the stolen goods, in keeping with the detective party. For example, direct any clues to the thief’s unknown accomplice that the young detectives unexpectedly come across. They can decipher messages in secret ink, crack codes, look for and find keys for padlocks, observe a suspect after a clue (who is initiated beforehand) who, for example, hides something in the boot of a car and looks around suspiciously often, question witnesses (initiated neighbours, parents of other children), look for traces and take fingerprints. Don’t forget to preserve evidence for conviction! Zubehör um eine Schnitzeljagd einfach anzupassen gibt’s zum Beispiel von Die drei ??? – auch ein tolles Geburtstagsgeschenk für das Geburtstagskind!

Detective Games to Buy for Small Detective Birthday Parties

For small detective theme parties there are highly recommended deduction games for puzzling, catching and convicting gangsters or even an agent hunt. We have played the following new releases ourselves and can recommend them: Agent Hunt, Gangster City and Grabble! – with detailed reviews.

A real detective games tip for older children and adults are Escape Games for the home! Each game can only be played once (logically, after that you know the solutions), they cost from about 10 euros and are something relatively new.

9. Nerve Food for the Detective Party

For small children, food and drinks are great for a game of deduction. Prepare samples of different foods and the little detectives have to taste them blindfolded and find out what they are.

If the children are out for the case, pack lunch boxes with nerve food – and hide several clues in them too! For example, put a piece of paper in each lunch bag – put them all together and you have a clue. Or hide a key to unlock a padlock in a lunch box under the sandwiches.

10. Giveaway as a Souvenir

A pen with invisible ink for writing secret messages to each other and the share of the stolen goods found or rather a torch as a key ring? Finally, I have a few practical little things for little hobby detectives as souvenirs.

Discover even more original kids’ birthday ideas! All year round you can browse the leisure ideas portal and find gifts and ideas for activities with kids, friends and your partner. Take a look!

Do you like Abenteuer Freundschaft and would you like to say thank you for the many free leisure ideas? Like our page on Facebook and Instagram!

*This article contains affiliate links, which means that if you buy something via one of these product links, Abenteuer Freundschaft will receive a small commission. But you don’t pay a cent more for the product.


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