Mystery Factory


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FREE Kids Party Games & SPY SCHOOL


Backwards Invitation
Write the information backwards so it will have to be read in a mirror. Great for a Spy or Detective Party!

Jigsaw Invitation
Paste a picture(s) you like to one side of a piece of card stock, put party information of the back, and cut the page into four to ten pieces . Deliver in an envelope. The receiver will have to tape it back together to get the message.

Balloon Pop Invitation
Stick the invite inside a balloon, then blow it up. They’ll have to pop the balloon to get the invitation.

Original Invitations
Write or print out the party invites on sticky labels and then attach them to interesting objects:
– plastic shovels for a beach party
– plastic fish for a pool party
– bananas for a jungle party
– boxes of animal crackers for an animal party
– packages of flower seeds for a Spring party

Party Food

First, serve small amounts
Children can always help themselves to more, but party food often goes uneaten, and less on their plates at one time means less wasted.

Fruit Kebabs
Skewered strawberries, pineapple, grapes, apple or watermelon pieces go great. Tailor them to the season and your kids’ preferences. Blunt the skewers if possible

Freeze small eatables
Cake decorations, maraschino cherries, gummy bears, grapes, etc. go over great frozen inside ice cubes for the party drinks. Excellent to use if you want the guests to drink fizzy water instead of soda to keep the sugar intake down.

Ice Cream Soup
Most kids love playing with their ice cream. Give each child a bowl with a scoop of ice cream in it and have sprinkles, chocolate chips, raisins or candies available for garnishing.

Serving ice cream cones?
Stuff a miniature marshmallow down the cone to keep the end from dripping

Themed Drinks
These can easily be made by slipping designs over the straws. Just put your design on squares of paper (magnifying glass for detectives, skull and crossbones for pirates, glittered stars for fairies) and cut two slits in the paper for the straw.

Set out plates of cut veggies
Give kids a chance to ‘graze’ if they feel the need. Avoid dips for hygienic reasons unless kids get their own cups to dip in.


Decorations and More

Balloons make the best decorations!
Make your party easy to find by having balloons visible near the street in front of your place. If it’s a tricky street to find, place balloons on the corner.
Bunches of balloons tied together work better than single balloons. Tie with bright coloured ribbon.
An uneven number looks better than an even number
Hang balloons down from the ceiling, on different lengths of fishing line or dental floss, to give the impression of suspended balloons
Tie ribbons or streamers to the tops of balloons before taping to the ceiling and let the streamers dangle down
– Blow them up the day of the party. If left too long balloons will begin to sag.

Streamers are Festive!
– Gather six to eight streamers together at one end and attach them to the centre of the party room ceiling or some other focal point. Twist them as you move towards the point that you are attaching the opposite end to. Fan streamers out from focal point. For two tone streamers, twist two contrasting colours together. For a slight variation hang beaded curtains. 

Creepy Cocktail
Freeze water in a plastic surgical glove to create a floating hand in the punch bow. Remove glove before putting in drink.

Loot Bags: – Reuse, reduce and recycle.
Party expenses can be daunting. Rather than buying new, inexpensive toys that have a short amusement span, buy clean second hand toys from garage sales and thrift stores – this is a great way to get quality items for a small budget and is good for the environment. Get a variety of gifts, wrap them and put a number on them. As guests leave, have them draw a number from a hat. They get the gift with the matching number to open when they get home

Party bags can be plain brown bags or boxes that cereal, granola bars, and other miscellaneous stuff comes in, covered or decorated ahead of time. Easy to theme. Mystery loot ‘bags’ can be made black and covered with questions marks. Cowboy loot ‘bags’ can be covered with horses and lined with ‘hay’ on the inside.
Party favours or prize suggestions: Magnets, bubbles, cookie cutters, notebooks, sea shells, marbles, sponges, pipe cleaners, fancy shoelaces, bicycle spoke decorations
Thank you’s: Have your child write out thank you notes – Thank you for coming to my party – ahead of time and insert them in the loot bags that the guests take home.

Presents Alternative
Request that guests bring a wrapped, gently-used paperback book that they have enjoyed reading and are ready to pass on. The presents are exchanged, and everyone goes home with a new book.
– The above idea can be used with dolls, cars, board games and many other items.

Common Sense:

  • If you are having a treasure hunt, play that first or the items might be found before they should be.
  • Have a balance of quiet and active games planned. Kids have a rhythm of 20 minutes or so, which is a good time to go from one type of activity to another.
  • Allow some free time for the children to just play or be with each other. Have some dress-up clothes or cars and trucks or building or art materials available for them to create with, but allow their play to come from inside them rather than structuring them full-time.
  • Make sure young guests can’t lock themselves in the bathroom.
  • Put valuables and breakables out of the party area.
  • Be sure you can reach the parents if you need to

Always have a first aid kit and emergency numbers within easy reach.

  • We are entertaining a group of 8 classmates for my daughter’s 13th birthday party. We have a boring early 1970s HOA pool, an empty clubhouse room, and some friendly neighbors in surrounding condos. What do you recommend for a great mystery backdrop to our pool party?

    • Add a bit of decor and your venue can become anything from an abandon villa on the Mediterranean to an elegant estate during the Age of Jazz / Roaring 20s or the public baths of an ancient lost civilization. It could become a set of a fantasy land like in the Narnia books, an desert oasis outpost, a haunted carnival any time in the last 100 years or a training ground for athletes or SPIES!

      Pick something you are passionate about. The more fun and excitement you put into creating it – the more fun and excitement your daughter’s guests will get out of it.

  • Hi,
    Thanks for the wonderful ideas.I’m all set to plan my 9year old daughter’s Detective Party,thanks to your games.

    • Glad to help! With a great dad and a fun theme it’s bound to be an unforgettable time. Memories are made …

  • Hi, I’m planning a party for my 11 (turning 12) year old sister. I’ve found some great ideas on this site but some of the ideas are a little bit for more younger kids. I was wondering if you had any other more “teenagererish” games and decorations. We also have a fairly large property that can be used for the games.

    • Sometimes the main difference between a child’s party and a teen party is the subject matter; change the subject matter, change the age range. Having a cluetrail is the same no matter what the age group or venue is. You need clues to prove whodunnit and it’s the ‘what they’ve done’ that gets upscaled or re-worked according to your group. Not currently having an eleven year old in the house I’m not sure of the hot topics in their world at this time.

      Are they too young for zombies or are zombies passe now? Maybe something based on their favourite book, tv show or video game. Maybe there is a particular theme in your area that would appeal to them; horses or a skatepark and like that. It’s often fun to combine a mystery party with a costume party. The participants can really get into it by dressing up as a character whether it is someone fictional or from their favorite video game characters or movie/tv show. I was surprized how much younger people love dressing up.

      My daughter started digging into the costume box at a young age and now she is sixteen she and her friends still dig into it only now they do it to make videos of themselves. Maybe your sister’s party could be based on a movie shot and an older teenager could run the video camera and play the director. In any case, ask your sister what exactly her and her friends are into to help you with this.

      Eleven year olds can be quite blase about death so I’m guess you could go with a murder mystery or a robbery. Set up a crime scene and hideouts for each of the suspects around your property. Scatter clues at the crime scenes for them to take note of and search out the solution from. Depending on your property and your group you could have clues to where clues could be found instead of setting up hideouts.

      A lot of this depends on how much time you have and how much work you want to go to. At the moment, and probably not for a while, I have nothing ready to go for teenagers but I would be glad to help you figure something out. Let me know.

  • I’m with Suzie! I would love those 6 things too! Or at least some Riddles and prints, Loads of Codes, and maybe Sneaky Puzzles? Thanks for all of this!

  • Ah. That’s coming up faster than the script will be ready. What I can do is give you a call and share some ideas with you – for free! If you’re interested send me your phone number and a good time to get in touch with you; include your time zone (I’m Mountain Standard Time). Email it to me at jrv(at) I’ll be happy to help you out.

  • Hi

    I would need it asap. I’m hosting a party next Saturday, March 2. Could you give me a bit of info about “Spy Hunt”, please?


  • Hi Suzie – I am currently polishing and spiffing up all of our Gumshoe Files. Do you have a party coming up or are you just wondering in general? There are four different events I am working on right now and if you have a specific date you need it by, tell me when and I’ll let you know if I can have it ready for you. It is called ‘Spy Hunt’ and will sell for $9.95 Cdn.

  • Hi

    How do I get “the Gumshoe PDFs” that include
    1) Crime Lab Cops
    2) Detective in the Dark
    3) Riddles & Prints
    4) Loads of Codes
    5) Sneaky Puzzles
    6) Clue Hunt and how much is it?

    Thank you.

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