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fingerprinted detective party cake

Maureen Anders of Anders Ruff here to share my son’s 9th birthday party.  I’ll give you a clue to the theme – this party has vintage style office props and is black and white with pops of color.  We had a Vintage Detective Party with a detective training session and a criminal case to solve.  The case of the stolen party favors!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Detective Training Camp with memory training, target training, Pass the Dynamite & accuracy training
  • A criminal case to solve: The “Case of the Stolen Party Favors” (with suspects like Hugh Jarms, Robin Banks, Joe King & Anita Bath)
  • Detective’s Desk Dessert Table to display magnifying glass cookies, chocolate mustaches, fingerprinted cake & detective “coffee” (i.e. chocolate milk)
  • A Mug Shot Photo Booth for the little detectives (along with photo props!)
  • Detective uniforms including customized tie shirts, Detective hats, glasses & mustache disguises

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chocolate magnifying glass cookies

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fingerprint station

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crime scene banner

detective training kit

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pass the tnt game

detective party games

detective target practice

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criminal lineup

detective footprints

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detective party favors


Detective parties are not the easiest to plan and so we hope that this post helps take the dirty work out of the planning for you with sources, ideas, diy and more!  A detective themed birthday party is not only great for boys but also for girls and can be used for older kids parties as well as young ones (with parents’ help!)  I know how hard it is to have themed parties as the kids get older, so this one is perfect!

The gorgeous photos by Michelle Kujawski Photography tell the story, but I will also outline the party for you as well!

I set the tone for Jeffrey’s Detective Party with this vintage style detective party invitation and matching printable to and from labels.

Dessert Table:

I decided that I wanted the dessert table area to feel like a Detective’s office.  A Detective’s Desk was perfect to display the desserts and treats.  I hung a bulletin board above the desk like you’d see in a detective’s office.  The criminal suspects (from the activity shown later in this post) Polaroid style photos were hung and strung together with red yarn and push pins.

We added height to our dessert table by using metal boxes, which totally felt like they would be in a vintage detective’s office or spy desk.  I used an old style telephone and antique typewriter that were perfect props for the detective’s desk.  I also found these adorable vintage camera piggy banks that looked like real old fashioned cameras!  A cool black lamp was perfect to add more height on the table as well.  I love the silver trunk that I used for more surface under the table.

The gorgeous fingerprinted cake was made by Judi of Itz My Party Cakery in Milwaukee. I made Chocolate Magnifying Glass Cookies on sticks and the kids couldn’t believe that they were cookies! I used binder clips to hold the printable place cards from our printable detective party collection.

I also made these chocolate mustache lollipops and attached a printable party flag from our printable collection. The chocolate covered pretzel detective pencil treats were a HIT! (Also made myself!)

Erin Heflin of Whip It Good Cookies made the precious top secret and confidential cookies. They were perfect for our detectives to snack on! The metal locker drawers were perfect for our detective’s desk dessert table to stick candy sticks, mini composition books and fingerprint cookies (from Whip it Good) out of. Of course detectives eat donuts, so we displayed some simple powdered donuts with a printable party logo.

For drinks, we opted to serve some chocolate milk out of coffee mugs with our printable party logo (with a fun ? mark) and a wooden drink stirrer with a party flag.

Our little detectives looked SO adorable in their detective hats, pipes, black framed glasses and adorable custom tie t-shirts from the amazing Great Stitch.

Kid’s Dining Table:

Instead of the plastic Crime Scene tape over the kids table, we opted to design a printable crime scene banner. I used my new stools for the kids to sit on at the table and it went so well with the look I was going for of a Detective Headquarters! The Vintage Camera was also a super cool prop for the table. We stuck our “confidential” printables out of a fat stack of donuts, perfect for any hungry detective!

The kids’ place setting is probably one of my favorite elements from the table setup. I used black square plates stacked with Polka Dot Plates (they reminded me of fingerprints). I added a chocolate mustache lollipop to the place setting with a printable flag and also a binder clip holding the detective name folding party label. We wrapped to-go Coffee Cups with the printable wrapper and added the lids. Flags were adorned onto the wooden drink stirrers.  We embellished Clasped Envelopes with our printables and put polka dot napkins and utensils coming out of the envelope. So fun!

The newspaper print wrapping paper table runner was also such a great contrast to the table items! Via Blossom has the cute little plastic bottles that were great for water and we used a printable drink wrap to embellish. Yellow and white Striped straws helped pick up the patterns in the printables, too!

Big black Magnifying glasses were placed in the center of the table on a black and white composition book with a tin can of chocolate pretzel pencils! So fun for centerpieces!

Favor And Entry Table:

Stepping backwards a bit, lets start with the beginning of the party. The guests were welcomed into the party by our Detective Headquarters table that held their Detective Training Kits, glasses and identity badges. Print My was so great about printing our big posters and signs that we offer in the shop.

The Detective Training Kit had a fun personalized name tag as well as the printable “top secret,” confidential, etc labels from our printables. The detective kits included Invisible Ink Pens, Handcuffs, Magnifying Glass, Mustaches (topped with our printable bag topper), Mini Composition Books, ID Badge (Printable here) and Black Glasses from Oriental Trading.


The detectives were asked to head to the Detective Fingerprinting Station. Now that the detectives were geared up, it was time for the detectives to begin Detective Training! The detectives at our party would partake in several activities to get them ready to handle a real criminal case. The Case of the stolen party favors!

Detective Training involved developing the following skills:

The kids started with Memory Training for Recollection.  A tray of detective related items was set out on the table and the little detectives had 60 seconds to study the tray.  We removed the tray and the children were given a printable training sheet to write down as many of the items as they could in 60 seconds.  The detective with the most items correct won.

Next was Target Training for Accuracy.  The kids used darts and a printable target practice poster from our shop that was adhered to a bulletin board (but could also use a foam core board).  The detective with the most points won.

The third activity in the Detective Training was to teach Blind Targeting for intuition.  The kids played Pin the Magnifying Glass on the Detective while being blindfolded. They loved it!  Our printable poster and magnifying glasses (the kids wrote their name inside the magnifying glass) were perfect for this skill.

Next up was Speed Training with our “Pass the Dynamite” game (think “hot potato” but with TNT). I was going to do pass the bomb but then I saw this idea online and just had to do our own version using a digital timer.  The winner got the TNT Gumballs!

Code Breaking was the next skill to teach intelligence.  The kids revealed a secret message that instructed them to go to the mailbox to get their first real “case.” They were finished with training and now would complete their very first Criminal Case – the Case of the Stolen Party Favors!

Criminal Case Solving Activity:

The printable Criminal Case Solving Activity Set has all of the activities needed to help solve the crime!

The children would complete several activities which would help them narrow down which criminal suspects were innocent from the Criminal Lineup. (This printable criminal lineup poster is available in our shop and can also double as a coloring poster!)

We decorated around the lineup with Do Not Cross Crime Scene tape, which added a punch of color. The Criminal Investigation Lineup was one of my favorite things to design.  I came up with funny names for the suspects.

The criminal suspects included: Robin Banks, Jacqueline Hyde, Joe King, Seymour Bones, Anita Bath, Hugh Jarms and Buffalo Bill.  Who do you think was guilty?

I decorated file folders with the printable labels from our printable Criminal Case Solving Activity Set.  Each piece of evidence was an activity that the kids had to complete in order to find out who was the last one standing, the guilty one.  The kids had SUCH A BLAST! We used Clipboards to help the kids write on and keep their activities organized.

After each activity, the detective who answered the clue correctly was the one who got to mark “innocent” onto the wall line up poster! When the activities were ALL complete, the kids knew who the Guilty one was!  They all had SO much fun!

Party Favors:

They then were directed to the location of the Stolen Party Favors!  I designed a printable iron on design to put onto the cotton bags from Nashville Wraps for the loot bags.  This favor was a huge hit – We gave away Combination Safes full of treats and fake money (Oriental Trading).

Our printable favor tag from the collection embellished the combination safes.  The kids LOVED the safes because its something useful that they can use at home to keep their money and treats safe from siblings!

Photo Booth:

The kids love acting silly and getting their photos taken, so we had a Mug Shot Photo booth backdrop along with a plack with details about Jeffrey’s party.  These fun photos will be great keepsakes to remember his wonderful time at his Detective Party!

Case solved! Party plan solved!

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