Idea No.


Artist Clue Party -8yr- Great Museum Caper



May 2006


Joni in Broomfield, Colorado, USA

Runner Up

Mystery Party

Artist/Clue Party  My 8 year old daughter couldn't decide if she wanted an artist party (she loves art, but it sounded a bit boring to her) or a spy party this year.  Instead we decided to try and combine the two ideas with an Art Mystery party, using the Clue game and Clue The Great Museum Caper game as inspiration.

For the invitations, I downloaded several Clue logos and pictures.  I also downloaded a copy of Van Gogh's Starry Night painting, as this is one my daughter and her friends all recognized.  I typed a letter that announced a thief had attempted to steal Starry Night and included a copy of the painting with a red line squiggled through it.  The letter said my daughter would need her friend's help to discover the thief (and help celebrate her 8th birthday).  I gave the party info as important facts of the case: What: Madison's 8th birthday party and Mystery Dinner, When: time and date, Where: our address, Who: Was it you?  I asked them to inform the museum curator (me) if they would be able to assist us. 

The letter asked Will you be the one to find the thief? And Will you add your own artwork to the collection? At the bottom of the letter I included a downloaded picture of each clue character and asked the guests to dress in the color of their favorite Clue character.  I included the first mystery as part of the letter by changing six words spread throughout the letter to the six clue character colors.  The letter said Can you  make a sentence out of the colored words?  The guests were supposed to use the order of the characters at the bottom of the page to order the colored words into the sentence, Who will be the thief? 

As the second mystery, my daughter and I cut up the letter printed on white cardstock into a puzzle, with the center piece cut out as a magnifying glass. For decorations, we attempted to recreate the Clue game rooms.  Some of these were easy, like our hall was the hall, our office became the study with a globe added (as in the game), our kitchen was the kitchen, and our kitchen table area was the dining room so I could use our dining room for the billiard room, and our living room was the lounge. We identified each room with a sign I printed on my computer using an Agatha Christie font.  The trickier rooms--I put a green tablecloth on the dining room table for a billiard room.  I used a pool rack and cue, then various colored balls from the kids toys fit into the rack. 

The ballroom idea I got from this website was to put a bunch of balls in the shower of the bathroom, and we added helium ball-oons.  The conservatory was our laundry room with numerous plants and greenery inside, and our family room became the library by adding books along the mantle and piano.  Spread throughout the rooms were the possible thief weapons: a (jump)rope, a (plastic) knife, a (water)gun, a Monkey wrench (a wrench with a plastic monkey taped to it), a foam pipe (pool noodle), and a candlestick. 

Finally, on the kitchen table in the Dining Room I put down a black tablecloth then set up a Clue game scene using the game board, game pieces (actually people in this 50th anniversary set) and added art cards from my Masterpiece game and magnifying glasses.  It looked great! I also set up a different clue game board in the hall with it's own magnifying glass.   For the art museum feel we hung about 8 famous paintings we had downloaded and printed to about 24 x 30 size, of course including Van Gogh's starry night with a squiggly red line through it.  Then throughout the actual famous paintings I hung up my daughter's artwork (and her sisters') as if their drawings and painting were famous works of art as well. 

To add the crime scene feel to all of this, I bought caution tape at Home Depot and hung it across the front door and front steps, and across every doorway and window in all of the party rooms.  My daughter wanted black and yellow helium balloons to match the caution tape so we added bunches of these in the hall, on her chair, and in the library.   When the guests arrived, our first activity was for each one to create their own Starry Night.  They did this by using crayon on white paper and drawing lines, squiggles, stars and moons, making sure their crayon completely covered the top 2/3s of the paper. 

Next they took a thin piece of black construction paper and cut out their own silhouette for the bottom 1/3 of the painting.  While they were cutting out their silhouette, I washed their crayon drawings with black paint and dabbed it off to create a nighttime effect.  When it was dry, we glued their silhouettes to the bottom of the page.  The kids had a great time doing this, and felt like they had created their own unique masterpieces! Next it was time for the mystery dinner.  Ahead of time I had created menus with 13 mystery items on them and three columns so they chose 5 items for the first course and 4 for the 2nd and 3rd courses. 

The mystery items were code names for food and silverware such as Sneeze Danger for meatballs and spaghetti sauce (from the On Top of Spaghetti song), Wolf Eyes for grape tomatoes, Stab in the Dark for a knife, and Horse Blanket for Ranch Dressing.  The dinner was by far the kids favorite part of the party, even for the one who ordered her fork, knife, spoon and napkin as her last course!  Serving and eating the dinner took about an hour, even with 5 adults helping. Towards the end of the dinner I announced I was going to the restroom (Ballroom!) for a moment as an excuse to head toward the Starry Night Painting. 

On the way I saw the painting was missing and screamed and ran back to the kitchen to announce it to the children.  I told them we would need to play the game Clue to figure out who was the thief, warning them it could be their own team or even me.  We gathered all the weapons in a basket to take with us during the game.  Each team member got a hat to match their character and a magnifying glass to wear around their neck. To distinguish the Clue teams I found the funniest brightly-colored furry hats at the Dollar store in the 5 colors I would need (I was dressed as Mrs. White in a white skirt and top and apron). 

Then we all sat down in the Library to explain the rules and receive the information they would need.  Each team had a grownup to help them keep track of their information.  Every child received a notebook in her team color with a cover sheet that said Private Property of"  their clue character name, e.g., Miss Madison Peacock and her team members were the Blues Sisters, and a cute matching mechanical pencil clipped on.  Glued into the notebook was a Clue Detective Notepad I made for our game, a page about Clue's history, the Clue game rules that I adapted for our live game, and a page I got from the Great Museum Caper game about the painting theft.  In the back I stapled an envelope for the team leader to hold her game cards in. 

Then we carefully drew the cards I had made with the clip art I found online and placed the solution in the Top Secret manilla envelope, passing out the rest of the cards to the teams.  The birthday girl's team went first, followed by the other teams in the order they were listed in our Detective Notepads.  To make the game move faster, we had the teams answer a question or complete a challenge to move to a room only the first time that room was used.  The questions were related to the Clue game, the artwork, and Madison's birthday; the challenges were just fun like building a pyramid or doing a cartwheel.  Then each team took turns moving everyone to a room, and guessing the thief, the weapon, and the room we were in. 

After the first round of guessing, we decided to have the team showing a card show it to the whole group so we could help the game move faster.  The kids had a great time running from room to room, making accusations and being accused.  Of course this all took more time than we thought it would, so with about 30 minutes to go in the party, we all sat down in the lounge and each team got to make their final guesses.  That worked out great because each team had figured out a different part of the puzzle and they all got to contribute to the solution.  It randomly turned out that I (Mrs. White) was the thief, which the kids all found hilarious! 

The next thing we did was make and eat artist cakes and ice cream.  The kids all got their own rectangular cakes to paint on with a paintbrush and butterscotch, chocolate and strawberry syrup.  Then we had a giant basket of candies and icings they could use to finish their delicious masterpieces.  Once the birthday girl was done making her cake, we sang Happy Birthday and passed out the rainbow sherbet.  Last Madison opened her presents, and the last present was a bag full of candy and the Starry Night painting from the thief, because she was feeling so guilty.  We went out on the front lawn and I threw the candy and the kids grabbed it up, using their hats for a bucket. 

At the end, they got to take home their hats and candy, their notebooks and pencils, their magnifying glasses, and their starry night paintings. We all had such a fabulous time that we decided to use the Clue theme for our next big family party!

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