How do you host a successful teen murder mystery party? Carefully. Very, very carefully.
The backstory: growing up, only one birthday stands out to me: my Raggedy Ann party when I was five. (yes, I’m dating myself LOL). So for MY kids, I wanted EVERY year’s party to be memorable!
This year, our daughter turned 13. Sigh. I know it’s cliche’, but where DOES the time go? Anyway, becoming a teenager called for a SUPER DUPER over-the-top party! When I asked her what theme she wanted, she quickly said she wanted a murder mystery, and her idea was that each friend would be an animal. She got busy giving them each a name, and when she was through, there were characters such as the Responsible Rhino, the Ridiculous Raccoon, and the Krazy Koala, to name a few!
Ok great, so we had characters, now what? I set about trying to find a teen murder mystery that I could adapt to these animals. Nada. Zip. Zilch. (shocker.). So I tried to convince her to do a different theme, like one I could actually BUY, for instance. Nope, she wanted those characters. Defeated, I resigned myself to the fact that I would be writing my OWN murder mystery. Ugh.
After much angst, I finally decided that a circus murder mystery would be the way to go. I mean, what else was I going to do with an Elegant Elephant?!
Murder Under the Big Top
Let me just say that writing a murder mystery party is not for the faint of heart. There are about a zillion things to consider. Plot, motive, weapon, and opportunity, to name a few. So I started with the plot: Ringmaster Buttergood has been found dead Under the Big Top and every animal is a suspect. They have all been called to the reading of his will, where they will learn that he was killed by a King Cobra that was released in his room while he slept.
The Motive and Opportunity
Every animal had a reason to want to see the Ringmaster dead. But who would be so desperate as to carry out the act? Everyone had an alibi, but one (or two?) of them is lying about where they were the night of the murder.
Murder Mystery meets Escape Room
The animals were all sent invitations, typed on vintage circus stationary, stating that they were to arrive at the Big Top (aka our house) at the appointed date and time, where they would be served dinner and hear the reading of the Ringmaster’s will. Watch this video to find out how Ringmaster Buttergood gets the last laugh!
Now, the animals had only 90 minutes to figure out who murdered the Ringmaster. So I came up with a series of carnival games. When they would win a game, they would receive their next clue, which was written as a riddle. They played ping pong ball toss, ring toss, pick-a-duck, and balloon pop. Each game eliminated another suspect.
After receiving the last riddle, with only three suspects left standing, I had them go on a neighborhood scavenger hunt. They had to earn 50 points to receive the final clue. Points could be earned by taking a picture shaking hands with a neighbor, building a human pyramid in front of a certain house, etc. Once they had earned their 50 points, they raced back to our house, where the “investigator” gave them the final clue, along with small black light flashlights. Using the flashlights, they located a large (stuffed) glowing King Cobra in the front bushes. (I had rubbed Glo-Germ all over the snake, which glows under blacklight.) Once this was found, I left them (mostly) to themselves to figure out that the killer(s) would also have the mysterious glowing substance on their hands. I did have to give them a couple of hints to help them figure it out!
Solving the Crime
In the end, they DID solve the crime with about 20 minutes to spare, and were given the “antidote” cake pops, which they devoured as if their very lives depended on it! LOL
A post about all of the decorations, food, games, and where to purchase supplies can be found HERE.
Hope this post inspires you to create your own teen murder mystery party!
Have a magical day y’all!