Our little "Chiquita" turned sixteen last week! Since I wasn't able to host a party for her last year (remember those sweet cards we woke up to from her last year?), and since I did host a sweet sixteen birthday party for her older sister, I was determined to throw a big party for her this year. Falling close to Easter, her birthday always sneaks up on me and I'm never prepared!
I started researching party ideas on Thursday evening and settled on a masquerade themed murder mystery birthday party and ordered her a mask (which was delivered an hour before the party!)... On Friday I had my oldest daughter text all their friends a digital invitation I had made... Then, instead of spending the weekend preparing, my three older girls and I went on a road trip to Oregon for my niece's baptism! While I was in Oregon (after sending out invites) realized the mystery package I had picked out wasn't currently available for purchase and had to improvise... Picked out (and purchased!) another mystery game that would also work with our masquerade theme... and somehow it all came together on Monday for her Tuesday birthday! Whew!
On Tuesday I got up to decorate, bake her a "Death by Chocolate" cake, and then she and I headed to Mass at noon and then to Dutch Bros for her birthday coffee!
Our family usually celebrates birthdays with just family, but every once in awhile I try and give them a party with friends. She had only celebrated a birthday with a few friends once, and that was ten years ago! I am so very grateful for all the amazing friends our children have made since we moved here to North Idaho from Oregon in 2019. We invited twenty friends to her party and all but one was able to come!
My teens have been talking about Murder/Mystery parties for a long time and I was always skeptical. After looking into different options I was intrigued by the parties offered by Shot in the Dark Mysteries:
"We primarily use an INTERACTIVE mystery party format. If you’ve played games offered by our competitors, you’ll find this format very different, a lot more versatile and a whole lot of fun. Instead of everyone sitting around reading off a piece of paper, your guests are up and mingling, flexing their sleuthing skills (with some helpful sample questions from us to get everyone started) and questioning one another to discover the killer. It’s simple, fantastic and perfect for mystery party newbies and veterans alike." Read more here.
Since the Masquerade Mystery wasn't available (I was told they are currently rewriting it into a new mystery for adults and an update version of the current one for kids) we had a Masquerade in the Library! I went with the 13 suspect package (for 9 girls 4 boys). Three of my teens (including the birthday girl) and ten of our guests were assigned suspects, the rest of our guests all participated as additional sleuths trying to figure out who the thief/murder was from the suspect list. No one knew the answer, not even me, until the end of the party after all the investigations took place. It was so much fun!
"Some mysteries inform the guilty party that they are guilty. We don't do this for two reasons. First, not knowing allows all Suspects to be completely honest with the information they receive. Second, it allows all players to piece together the mystery equally. With one Suspect not investigating, it quickly becomes clear to the other players who the culprit is and your mystery ends up ruined. In our experience, your mystery is more successful when the culprit isn't aware they are the culprit."
My teens are already looking through other themes and asking when we can host another mystery party!
For decorations I purchased some extra masks and a bouquet of roses for the birthday girl. While I rounded up all the candles I could find around the house, I sent the kids upstairs to bring down some of their favorite mystery and detective books. We hung up some balloons and reused a birthday banner.
I headed to Costco for help with the party food. Instead of a full dinner, I decided to serve lots of hearty appetizers and some treats along with punch/sparkling drinks and birthday cake with ice cream. The only thing left at the end of the party was the bowl of broccoli and baby carrots... Teens. ;)
.: The Menu :.
Cilantro Lime Shrimp
with various meats, crackers,
White Stilton with Apricots cheese,
and Boursin cheese
Broccoli and Baby Carrots
with Ranch Dip
Chicken & Cheese Mini Tacos and Taquitos
Popcornopolis Zebra Popcorn
Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
"Death by Chocolate" Cake
Espresso Madness Ice Cream
Death by Chocolate Cake made with Chocolate Fudge Cake Layers with Whipped Ganache Filling, Chocolate Frosting, White Chocolate Ganache Drip, Chocolate Ganache Drip and Oreo Crumbles
.: Our Guests Arrive :.
.: A Murder is Announced :.
After everyone arrived, and had had a chance to get some food, we began the mystery with the Announcement of Murder. Our package came with an audio file, but I opted to read the transcript to the teens. Afterwards each of the suspects introduced themselves and read their bio to everyone.
|My little photographer in training!|
|Photo credit for these goes to our three year old!|
|And to Twinkle Toes for this one!|
.: The Investigations :.
The investigation portion of the mystery was next! I set the timer for an hour, but ended up giving them an additional 20 minutes. I think they would have liked to have just a little more time. Next time, I'd probably plan for at least 90 minutes of investigations. Maybe 2 hours. I had scheduled the party from 6:00-9:30 PM and an extra 30 minutes probably would have been helpful!
.: The Suspects and Sleuths :.
At the end of the Investigations, all the suspects and sleuths voted for the best mask, best costume, and cast their accusations!
.: The Big Reveal :.
The end of the mystery is marked by The Big Reveal. After everyone had cast their accusations against the culprit it was time to reveal the guilty party! I opted to read the transcript once again. It was so fun to hear all their reactions as the mystery pieces all came together and we all discovered who did it!
|Basket of Prizes for Best Costumes, Best Masks, and those who were able to guess thief/murderer|
including: "PayDay" • Gum for all the "Gumshoe Detectives" • King Size KitKats for "Cat's Pajamas"
.: Sixteen Candles :.
We wrapped up the evening with cake, ice cream and gifts! And a few last pictures!
Happy Sweet Sixteen!