Idea No.


Mystery Tea -8yr- Dress-up In the Parlor



February 2001


Johanna in Alexandria, Va.  U.S.A.


Mystery Party

My daughter loves to read and some of her favorite books are mysteries.  Therefore, for her eighth birthday, we decided to put together a mystery party.  Since she was only eight we couldn't go with any of the standard "murder mystery dinners" already available.  Instead, we came up with a mystery tea. 

The invitations went out with background information which read:    It was the intention of the Duchess of Arlington to request the pleasure of your company for afternoon  tea in the ballroom of her home.  In addition, a presentation of a treasure chest of family jewels was to be made to her granddaughter, Lady Nicole, in honor of her eighth birthday.  Unfortunately, a crime has been committed at the Belvedere Mansion, home of the Duchess, and the treasure chest full of jewels is missing.  The Duchess would still like to have you for tea and believes this mystery could be solved with your assistance.  A handsome reward will be bestowed upon anyone who helps find the jewels and bring the perpetrator to justice.  Then the invitations included all the pertinent information as well as a note at the bottom which requested that the girls come in their favorite dress-up clothes (the play kind, not the formal kind)or borrow some upon arrival. 

When the big day arrived, We set up a walk-in closet with all of Nichole's dress-up stuff for anyone who wanted to borrow (some did).  We set up the tea area with tablecloths, dishes, flowers and place cards to make it seem more grown-up for the girls.  We also placed signs at different locations to identify where certain events were to take place later in the day (i.e, the dining room, the ballroom, the kitchen, the parlor, the study, and the wardrobe.)  My mother-in-law played the part of the Duchess and acted as hostess during the tea part of the party.  I acted as her personal secretary to organize everything and keep things running smoothly.  My husband was the butler (of course he had to answer the door and serve the tea), my father was the cook and my brother player the part of a badminton player who was visiting the Duchess.  Of course we were all in costume and ended up being the suspects. 

As the girls arrived they were either let to the wardrobe to select their costume for the day or to the Parlor where I was reading mini mystery stories I had found on the internet.  I was amazed at how easily these little girls were able to come up with the answers.  Once everyone arrived we escorted the girls to the dining room for tea and snacks.  We served muffins, ham biscuits, mini sandwiches, mini bagels, and stuffed celery.  During tea the Duchess discussed the fact that her badminton champion nephew was visiting her and a little bit about the game; the treasure and the fact that it was stolen on January 16th; and the fact that she had contacted a psychic to help in the investigation (she was certain the  psychic would be able to tell her where the treasure was and who stole it). 

Near the end of the tea, the Duchess was interrupted by the butler with a package from the psychic. In the package was a letter to the Duchess saying that she didn't know who stole the jewels, but it was someone very close to her.  It also said the psychic had seen some clues in here dreams and believed that these clues would help them solve the mystery.  Each girl was then given and envelope with a clue from the psychic.  Some of the envelopes included puzzle pieces to a home made jig saw puzzle, the key to a code, the names of the four suspects and the clue which sent them to their next activity.

Tea time is fine, when there is time to lose, But the worm she will lose if too late she should snooze.  Hurry and find her before its too late then fly to the window and open the gate!  This clue refers to the phrase the early bird catches the worm.  The girls where then encouraged to go on a bird hunt.  The bird hunt reveals badminton birdies with numbers.  The girls then took their numbered birdies to the "bird house window"  which was a poster with pictures of various types of birds all numbered.  Behind each numbered bird was either another puzzle piece, candy, one girl received a riddle indicating she was to get a larger prize, one girl got the nephews badminton schedule which showed his alibi for the day the treasure was stolen and one girl got a clue which said A parcel will arrive with deviance attached, discover what's inside, then go and get a snack.  At that point, the butler brought in a parcel. 

The Duchess was concerned what might be in the mysterious package and asks the girls to help her open it.  We then had the girls play the party game "pass the parcel".  When they finally got to the prize, it was a china tea set which the winner got to keep and a note which gave instructions for tea: Boil water, insert tea bag, serve with cookies.  We realized we did not have cookies with our tea and decide to go to the kitchen to look for the cookies.  In the kitchen we found the cook who had just finished decorating special cookies based on dreams he had last night I thought these would look fun and festive. 

The girls realized the decorations on the cookies were the code one of the girls had received a key to in her envelope.  She ran to get her envelope and they worked out the code which said "Balloon pop for clues."  After they finished eating the cookies, the girls played  pop the Balloons (which were scattered everywhere.) Inside each balloon was a note.  Most of the notes said "keep searching for clues" but one had a clue which cleared the personal secretary (ME), one had a riddle which meant the girl got to keep a prize of a paint set "The balloons may not remain, but the colors you may retain", and one got a clue to the next activity:   "A puzzle you have had A puzzle you might keep You will find treasure lost, It’s a puzzle you must seek" 

They then went to "the study" where a jig saw puzzle had been started.  When put together, there was one extra piece. The person that the extra piece belonged to got a puzzle for a prize.  The picture the puzzle revealed was the wardrobe from the book "The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe"  leading the girls back to the wardrobe (i.e., the walk-in closet where the dress-up stuff was kept) and the treasure chest full of costume jewelry and candy which the girls got to split.  The butler's tie was also with the treasure indicating that he was the guilty party.  After the treasure was given out to all the girls we had cake and opened the presents.  The party lasted about 3 hours and the girls all seemed to have a great time.

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