Detective-Themed Birthday Party Games and Ideas

by Carolyn Scheidies
Party guests can use magnifying glasses to figure out clues.

Party guests can use magnifying glasses to figure out clues.

Jupiterimages/ Images

For a detective-themed birthday party, focus on mystery and suspense. Whether your theme is based on a particular detective or show or simply focuses on the general detective theme, give guests things to question; an eerie, dim, mysterious atmosphere; and games that require them to take on the role of the detective to solve small or large mysteries you invent.


Decorate with images of fictional detectives for a detective-themed birthday party. Do a Sherlock Holmes theme with illustrations of magnifying glasses and carriages, a violin and a mock-up newspaper dated in the era of the detective. Dim the lights and use lanterns. Alternatively, decorate using a number of fictional detectives from both literature and the media. These might include the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Scooby-Doo gang or longtime television series detective Monk. Create a CSI lab with test tubes and microscopes and a variety of "specimens" to identify, turning the decorations into a game. Give each guest a lab coat or hat with a CSI patch. Have each guest become one of the CSI detectives.


Create a cake in the shape of a magnifying glass for a detective-themed birthday party. Use tall thin glasses that look a little like test tubes for the punch. Serve a variety of colored punches. Another option is to bake the cake in the shape of a question mark with guests guessing, before you cut into it, the flavor of the cake. If the party uses a particular detective theme such as Sherlock Holmes, decorate the cake with a representation of the detective. Decorate the cake and napkins with footprints. Serve footprint-shaped sandwiches or candy.


Play a game in which birthday party guests list as many fictional detectives as possible. You can have guests work in groups. Create a treasure hunt mystery with clues you leave around the house or backyard or wherever you hold the detective-themed birthday party. One clue leads to the next and each clue builds on the last until the guests figure out where to find the "treasure." You might jumble words of the clues to make them more difficult to figure out. Plan a mystery with everyone playing a part and, when someone is "murdered," the other party guests working together to figure out which guest "did the deed." Before the birthday recipient opens gifts, have guests write down who brought the gift and a guess as to what the gift may be.

To Take Home

Children like to return home with something tangible to remind them of the good time they had at a birthday party. Let each child decorate a paper bag with mystery and detective stickers or color them with markers and crayons. Include in a treat bag a magnifying glass and an age-appropriate mystery fiction book, such as one from the Encyclopedia Brown series. Include a notepad and pencil to write down clues.

About the Author

Carolyn Scheidies has been writing professionally since 1994. She writes a column for the “Kearney Hub” and her latest book is “From the Ashes.” She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she has also lectured in the media department.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images