It certainly threw me when my then seven-year-old son asked for exactly that nine years ago. A quick check online made me realise there wasn’t really anything suitable for him and his slightly younger friends so I promised to create a mystery party just for him – that was the start of Tall Tales Mysteries.
But these days there’s a lot more on offer when you’re planning a murder mystery party for kids (or a mystery party without the murder).
Here are five of my favourite ideas when it comes to hosting your first murder mystery party for kids. You can use some or all of them as you create your own mystery for the kids to solve.
- Make a crime scene. If you’re planning on having a murder with your mystery then the chalk outline of a body is a must but you don’t have to make a mess on your lovely wood floor with chalk or tape. Find a nice red party tablecloth and draw your body outline on to it and then find some white tape and tape around the outline. The effect is more or less the same but you can lift it off without any effort!
Add some fake weapons such as a candlestick, a plastic knife or a water pistol and then add some crime scene- must haves such as a fingerprint or two or perhaps a footprint.
Now you can use your crime scene as part of your story. Take a photo of the crime scene before the party, print out copies for each child and then move some things around. Ask them to spot the difference between the photo and the crime scene.
- Make wanted posters. These are great if you have a printer at home that will allow you to print out pictures of all your guests. As the children arrive, take a head and shoulders photo of them and print out all the pictures. Before the party you will already have downloaded and printed out the Wanted Posters for free from Free Poster Templates and then all you have to do is stick the pictures onto the poster.
But if that’s not crafty enough for you you could always take a side of a cardboard box, cut out a square in the centre and write WANTED at the top and a value at the bottom. Ask each child to pose inside the wanted poster, take the photo and print. It’s a great gift for them to take home at the end of the party.
- Coded messages. Kids love coded messages so why not design a code, create a few messages for them to crack and use them as clues for them to discover. It is so easy and all you need is paper and a pen although you can buy decoder rings if you want to splash out.
Simply write out the alphabet and swap letters for other letters or perhaps change the letters for numbers in a random order. Alternatively, if you use a PC you can easily change the letters for symbols.
Then give each child a copy of the code, let them find the coded messages and see if they can work out your clues. This works whatever your mystery!
- Find your fingerprints. Fingerprints are fascinating and there’s an easy way for the kids at your party to discover their own fingerprints without making an inky mess everywhere. You can download and print my fingerprint record sheets for this. Now give each child a plain sheet of paper, a pencil and share some sticky tape around. Rub the charcoal from the pencil onto the plain paper so that it is reasonably thick, now get the child to rub their thumb over the charcoal and use the sticky tape to place it over the charcoaled thumb. Pull the sticky tape off and it has the print on it. Now stick it down on the fingerprint record sheet. You can get them all to have a go and give them magnifying glasses to take a look at the differences between their prints.
- The murder mystery cake. I’ve seen lots of different murder mystery party cakes but my absolute favourite is so simple! A plain white cake with red food colouring for blood over the icing and a knife stuck right into the middle. It is so effective! Or perhaps you’d rather make cupcakes with mini knives stuck in such as these from Nature Box..
I’ve done all of these at different times with murder mystery parties for kids – both my boys and other people’s children too – and they’re all great fun.
But, of course, you might not have the time to work out your own murder mystery party this Halloween so if that’s the case take a look at my two murder mystery parties for kids – Murder In The Maze and Lights, Camera, Murder!
And whatever you do this Halloween – have fun!
Sara (Chief Mystery Maker)