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Party Games



A detective must ask people questions if he is to solve the mystery. See what you can find out about the people at this party.

Go to a guest and ask the questions that are in each square. Every time, he/she answers “Yes” to a question, she/he writes his/her name in the square. Still have empty squares? Go to another guest. If you are the first person to get a name in each square, you will win a prize. (And you will also be on your way to being a super sleuth.)

Do you have a dog? What's the dog's name?

Do you have a cat? What's the cat's name?

Have you ever gone camping? Where?

Do you play on a sports team? What sport?

Do you play a musical instrument? Which instrument?

Is chocolate your favorite ice cream flavor?

Do you have a piece of clothing that is plaid?

Have you ever read a mystery novel? What was the title?

Do you have a sister? What's her name?


Charades (Using Mystery Terms)*


*I think this version of charades (using mystery terms) will be a fun game for children 11 to 13 years old and above. It may be too challenging for 10-year-olds, particularly if they have not played charades before.

Instructions for the party planner:  A player draws a slip of paper from a container. Written on each slip in the container is a clue—a word or phrase. The player, using only gestures, acts out the clue. Other party guests try to guess the clue. The object of the game is to guess the clue the player is acting out.

There are two ways to play charades: in teams or as a group.


To Play in Teams:
Divide your guests into 2 teams. Have team members sit together. There should be some space between the two teams. A player from one team goes first and draws a clue from the container. Clues should be folded tightly so no one can see what they are choosing!


Set a time limit (usually 2 minutes). The player uses that time to act out the clue. Her/his team players try to guess the word or phrase.  The team can shout out answers until they guess the right answer or time is up. If the team guesses the clue within the time limit, that team gets a point. If they haven’t guessed the right answer, the other team has one chance to guess. If that team guesses correctly, they get a point. Whether or not they guess correctly, it is now that team’s turn to choose a player from their team and try to guess the clue.

I suggest you play the game until one team gets 3 points. It’s a good thing to want to give each child a turn, but this can backfire. Some children are very shy and while they might be comfortable guessing, they might be very uncomfortable performing, especially if they have never played charades before.


Members on the winning team receive small prizes.

To Play as a Group:
Choose one player to start the game. That player acts out the clue for everyone.  The first person to guess the clue is the next player to act out a clue. When playing the game in this way, I think it works best as an ice-breaker.

After you explain the game and before you have the children begin, the teacher in me suggests that you, the parent, model being a player. Take a clue and act it out, letting the whole group practice guessing the clue. I think showing your children/guests how you do it and letting them practice guessing will help them grasp more completely how to play and enjoy the game more fully.


Some Standard Charade Signals (explain them before you start the game):
Book:  open hands like a book.
Song:  silently sing with a pretend microphone.
Movie: hold one fist in front of you and circle the other fist in a circle beside it (old fashioned movie camera).
Number of words: place extended fingers on your arm, one finger per word.
Which word: hold up 1 finger for first word, 2 fingers for the second word, etc.
Rhyming Word: tap ear which means "sounds like."


Possible Charade Clues for Your Mystery Tea Party:

Suspect  *  Witness  *  Police  

Crime scene  *  Detective 

A false lead  *  Clue  *  Hunch

Thief   *  Disguise  *  Puzzle

Nancy Drew  *  Case

Solve  *  Hidden staircase

Secret door  *  Partner

Notebook  *  Investigate

Encyclopedia Brown




Instructions for the party planner: Make up a list of famous people, famous places or things. Write a different item from the list on a 3x5 card; make a card for each guest. When the guests have all arrived. Partner them up. Tape a card to each person’s back without telling him/her what it is written on it. (No one else should tell either. ABSOLUTE SILENCE.) Teams spread out in the room. Partners look at each other’s back, but don’t reveal what is on the card. To try to discover what is written on the card taped to their back, the guest asks his/her partner questions about what is written on the card that can be answered yes or no. For example: Am I a woman? Am I living now? The first team where both players guess what is written on their cards wins.


I Spy


A good detective notices details. What do you see? Be sure to think though before you write down an answer. Some of the questions are tricky. 

  1. What in the room is red and long?   ______________________

  2. What in the room can be eaten? _____________________

  3. What in the room can be laid on? _____________

  4. What in the room has a pleasant smell? _______________________

  5. What in the room could be in your backpack if you were going to school? _______________

  6. What in the room has at least 200 parts? __________________

  7. What in the room can someone hide behind? _____________

  8. What in the room could you wear to the grocery store? _____________

  9. What three things in the room could help a person see? _______________________________

  10.  What in the room would you need for a trip to the Arctic? _______________

  11.  What in the room makes a musical sound? _________________________

  12.  What in the room begins with the letter “L”? _______________

  13.  What 4 things in the room begin with the letter “W”? ___________________________________________________________

  14.  What in the room is blue-and-white? _____________________________





Key to I Spy AND Instructions for the party planner ("Superintendent"):

You are going to set up a room separate from where the party will take place. Put items around the room that the guests/investigators will discover and describe as they fill in their notes. There are suggestions on the Reference Key printout (link below).

Keep the door closed and the room off limits until you begin the game. Have three or four guests go into the room at a time and fill in the blanks on their “I Spy” investigator note sheets. They should work individually and not share their work. Give them fifteen to twenty minutes. Other party guests may try the Word Search, work on the Edinburgh Sudoku or do the Secret Word Game. (Print these game sheets using the links found on the MORE GAMES page.)


There may be more than one correct answer to each question. The Superintendent--you--judge the answers. Let the investigators assist you. (One of the fun parts of the game is listening to the different answers that children give.)



I like the idea of having a selection of mystery novels for kids as some of the prizes. Of course, I hope I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue will be included in your selection. Some other titles you might consider are:

London Art Chase (book 2 of 4), The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Torn Map (book 2 of 7), Full Metal Trench Coat (book 1 in Bill the Warthog Mysteries, and The Mystery Thief (book 10 in the 36-book series of The Sugar Creek Gang. Click on the title to read its review in the blog Books 4 Christian Kids.


Another great prize might be Jones & Parker Case Files, 16 Mysteries to Solve Yourself. These short, short mysteries originally appeared in Focus on the Family's Clubhouse  Magazine.


For smaller prizes or party favors you might plan on giving out toy magnifying glasses and penlights. Consider working them into your tablescape where they can become party favors. (See the sample centerpiece on the TABLESCAPE page.) I also think small, colorful notebooks and/or pens would make good prizes for junior detectives. 

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