I was unaware of my passion for themed parties until I had my first child. Her first two birthdays were your run-of-the-mill easy parties sans a full-fledged theme. By her third birthday, I started making my own invitations and more intricate cakes. Each subsequent year, I seemed to take it up a notch to coincide with her increased ability to participate in party activities. I was completely pumped about planning this detective party.

I’m jumping out of order a bit posting this 10th birthday Detective Party, but to put it simply; I really enjoyed the planning and easier preparation with this one. When I say easier preparation, I’m speaking of physical or crafting labor. Much of the work was in creating the plan and creating documents in Microsoft Word. I can be honest enough to say I really took some pride in the development of the mystery details and case files. To kick things off, let’s start with the invitations.


I went over to my fav spot, Michaels, and got a pack of inexpensive brown cardstock cards and envelopes. I then cut the card to the shape of a manila folder and wrote “Top Secret” on the front with a red marker. The envelope followed suit with “Urgent” attention addressed to the invited detective (friend). Completely easy, am I right?!

For the inside, I took a picture of the birthday girl with a Snapchat filter for added fun and printed them on plain paper. The details of the party were drafted in Microsoft Word and printed on plain computer paper before being cut to size. In order to fill a 2-hour party span, I included a detective training camp.

Detective party cakes


For the main party area, I kept decorations simple with crime scene tape, silly nose glasses, mini magnifying glasses, and bowler hats I borrowed from my parents’ hat collection. My parents tend to be an excellent source of all randomly necessary items, which I’m continuously thankful for when I come up with an idea.


Since this was an activity-focused party, I went simple with the snacks. Donuts (cause duh, Detectives), peanuts (no allergies to worry about), pretzel rods covered in chocolate to look like pencils and hot chocolate in cute toss-away coffee cups. I got the coffee cups for the best price I could find at Walmart. The last edible would obviously be the cake.

Detective party snacks


For Detective training camp, I had 5 different activities, which ended up being a tad ambitious with the time frame. I’d recommended scaling back on the word puzzle side. My husband tends to think I’m a bit crazy and create too lofty expectations with things like this. He may be right but what fun are low expectations?

Word Puzzles to hone those deductive reasoning skills
Sensory skills training: The Test? Determine the type of candy
Lazer path to develop refined agility
Detective party shooting practice
Target shooting (again super easy and done on posterboard)
Detective party criminal pic
Lastly, developing mug shot camera skills. This ‘placard’ was drafted in Word and printed on regular paper before gluing it onto a piece of cardboard.

Private Detective Badge

Detective party detective badge

As parents RSVP’d, I asked them to send me a picture of the child, which I used to create a Detective Badge. I created a badge for each child with his/her picture and name because a detective party wouldn’t be much with the detectives. As they finished their detective training, I symbolized “passing” by giving them their badge.

Time to Solve the Case

Here’s where my mental fortitude was really tested by the detail of ensuring all the pieces would come together into a workable mystery. The mystery to be solved was who took Faith’s birthday cake and finding where it had been hidden. I crafted files for each of our family members to serve as suspects. I gave the file collection to each detective group (there were three groups). Each group received a file and their detective tool kits; an invisible pen with a light on it (thanks Amazon), a regular pen, their paperwork, and a ruler.

Detective party suspect files
Detective party suspect file information
I took everyone’s fingerprints with ink and made copies to have in each file. I wrote down a few facts for each suspect to include a microscopic image of their clothing and a foot outline.
On the top of the file, I included a brief write-up of the mission, some questions they could ask the suspects, and space to write to whom each clue pointed.

Detective Party: The Clues

Detective party clue 1
A powdered footprint made by cutting out the inside of the foot outline, then using a shifter to ‘rain’ the powdered sugar into the opening. There were two different sizes, so it wouldn’t immediately start to point to one person.
Detective party clue 2
A fingerprint from two suspects found on the kitchen counter.
Detective party clue 3
Slides of clothing fibers to look at with the microscope. I had to scour the internet to find images to match the slides we had on hand. I used those images for the suspect files.
Detective party cake 4
A secret coded message to help the detectives on the way to finding clue 5 and solving the case.
Detective Party clue 5
An invisible clue as to where the cake was hidden.
Here’s where those invisible pen lights came into play

Detectives hard on the case

The Missing Cake

In the end, one group found the cake ahead of the rest. That was the only competitive aspect of the party. The kids were then ready to sit down to eat a slice of the found cake.

Detective Party briefcase cake
This cake was much easier than last year’s pirate ship cake and for that, I was thankful.

In the end, the party seemed to be a real hit. The girls were invested in every activity, which is never guaranteed when overplanning. There were requests to be able to take my suspect files home because they enjoyed them so much. I hope you enjoyed the run-through and collected some ideas for your own Detective party.

If you’re looking for some other ideas, check out this Treasure Hunt Party.