Some of the best books for children are detective stories. Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown and others have always been popular stories for children. For any child who likes detective stories, a detective theme birthday party is not very difficult to plan.
The first step is to create invitations that have a detective theme. Somewhere on the invitation, be sure to include "Top secret" to make the invitation look very important. The letters or words that provide information about the party--the date, location and name of the child having a birthday--can be jumbled so the reader has to figure out all of the information. Also include pictures or images that have a detective theme, such as a magnifying glass or a "Wanted" poster of the child.
If you can afford it, try to find some trench coats in youth sizes so the children can dress up like detectives. If trench coats aren't available, try to find some detective hats, sunglasses and magnifying glasses for each of the children to wear and a small notepad and pencil for each of the children to write notes on.
Come up with your own crime that took place at the location where the party is being held, and let the children find the culprit. For example, set up each room in the house to be a different scene. The living room can be the detective's office with a few desks; one of the parents can act as the boss and give the young detectives the assignment. The next room can be the scene of the crime where the detectives are told what happened. The next few rooms could contain witnesses or suspects, and the young detectives are allowed to ask them questions to try and find out who committed the crime.
The best activities for a detective theme birthday party are puzzle games because figuring out a puzzle is similar to figuring out a mystery. A good example is 20 questions. One child, the answerer, thinks of a person or thing. The other children take turns asking a question about the person or thing and the answerer replies to their questions until somebody guesses who or what it is. Some other games that are good for a detective theme party are Plenty Questions, The Name Game, Categories and Chain Link Murder. See Resources for a link to the rules of those games.
Give the children a bag of goodies, and tell them that the bags are evidence bags. Decorate the cake following the detective theme: a detective hat, footprints, a question mark or a magnifying glass. Jumble up the words on the cake so the children have to guess what it says.
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