Finally! I’m sharing all the games and activities from the Valentine detective party. This post is long, but most of it is pictures. That’s just the way I like it! Let’s jump in and see all the fun activities we did to find clues leading to our secret admirers.
I like to have an activity guests can do when they arrive so they don’t wander around like lost little puppies. ;) It also helps them feel welcome and comfortable. It’s doubles as something to keep them entertained while waiting for all the other guests to there. For this activity, I had everyone “fingerprinted” for the agency they were part of as secret agents/detectives. Because it was a valentine party too, the kids stamped their fingerprints in the shape of a heart. The cards were then slipped into plastic sleeve, magnetic frames. This also doubled as a party favor. I love when you can double up on activities and party favors.
Everyone was issued credentials and more detective gear when they arrived. (More on that in another post.) I made security scanners that were next to each door we walked through as we passed by for all the different games. We made a beep sound with our mouths as they placed the card under the light. I wasn’t sure if the kids (ages 1-8) would really get it, but they loved it. I even had some ask if they could take them home after the party. To me, that’s the highest compliment. I of course sent them home to put outside their bedroom door. How’s that for a “keep out” sign?!
How to make a security scanner.
- 2″ x 3″ black jewelry box (Hobby Lobby)
- light up balloons (Walmart)
- scissors or utility knife
- blue painting tape
- Pull tab on the balloon to turn the light on.
- Turn the balloon inside-out exposing the light.
- Cut a small opening in the bottom of your box.
- Place the balloon inside the box with the light bulb facing the opening you cut out.
- Put the lid on the box and adhere it to the wall. I used blue painters tape on the back.
Our first activity that revealed a clue was the cypher wheel. We gathered around and each took a turn decoding the numbered message below. Can you decode it?
The cypher wheel is very easy to make and only requires a few steps. Learn how on these class Valentines below.
How to make a cypher wheel Valentine.
- Cypher Wheel Valentine Card or Cypher Wheel Game Poster
- Silhouette or scissors (The cypher wheel game poster does not require a Silhouette to download and print. The small cypher wheel valentine card is only available in the Silhouette Design Store.)
- Printer and Cardstock
- Crop-A-Dile Big Bite hole punch (optional)
- Print and cut the appropriate cypher wheel using either your Silhouette or scissors depending on the one you are making.
- If you are not using a Silhouette, you will need to cut out the circular openings by hand. Align the wheel with the card and use the Big Bite hole punch to make a hole for the brad to go in. You can also try using the pointed end of the brad or scissors to push it through the two cards, although it may be difficult through two pieces of cardstock.
- Insert the brad and fold back the ends securing the two pieces together. Spin the wheel so that it is not lined up with the heart. The guests or recipient of the card will turn it to find the heart that is the “key” to the wheel for getting the correct letters in the message.
The kids looked for the big buckets which were in the kitchen for obvious reasons. We put on our crime scene gloves and dug through wiggly Jell-O to find our clues for the next game. Each child pulled out a balloon in a tiny plastic bag. I wasn’t about to have balloons with Jell-O all over them floating around the house, so the tiny bags were a must. Plus, adding the extra step of pulling the balloon from the bag only adds to the anticipation.
Pull + Pop!
After the kids pulled out their balloons, they walked through the house searching for a game that would go with the balloons. They scanned their badges and said “beep!” as they passed by the security door scanners. Just a little something extra to add to the excitement. They found the balloon Pull + Pop! game and knew this is where they would find their next clue.
To play Pull + Pop!, you simply pull one of the strings hanging from the right side of the box. It pulls a balloon up and pops when it hits the nail or pin at the top of the box. The balloons are stuffed with toys and clues and they fall out when the balloon is popped. I love this game! I’ve tried it at a few parties so far and have made adjustments with each one, so I have some very helpful tips to share with you.
- The first time I made the game I had all the balloon strings come up through one hole in the top of the box. It works better if you divide them among several holes cut along the top.
- Push pins are not long enough to pop the balloons through the cardboard. Tiny nails or long pins work better.
- When you blow up the balloon, it needs to be blown up all the way. If not, the pin just sort of makes the balloon deflate instead of popping it. The ones in the photo above could have been blown up even more to make them pop easier.
- If you are unsure if you blew up your balloons enough, test one before making them all.
- When looking for toys or filler items for the balloons, choose ones with smooth edges. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but some of the plastic toys I purchased were circular without pointed corners, yet still had sharp plastic along seems that I didn’t even think about until I putting them in the balloons. They were all cheap filler toys, so you get what you pay for right?
- This may contradict the tip above, but balloons are tougher than you think. I was able to stuff some fairly large items in there, like a pair of glasses without it puncturing the balloon.
- I didn’t use anything fancy to stuff the balloons. I just used my fingers to pry the opening as large as I could get it and then my husband would put the toy in. This can be done by one person, but two people definitely makes it easier.
- I used balloon air pumps, similar to this one, from the dollar store to pump the balloons up. It made it much faster and easier. Plus, there wasn’t my hot breath all over the prizes inside. Yuck!
- Remember, the balloons are weighted and will sit on the bottom of the box. Some of the balloons in the box above look like they are floating, but they are resting on the balloons below.
Here is a close-up of the holes in the top of the box and the nails sticking through. Remember to fill your balloons all the way so they pop instead of just deflate when they hit the nail.
All the kids won toys in their balloons, with one child winning a piece of chalk too. The kids had to look at the prizes and figure out which one was not like the other. The piece of chalk revealed that they needed to find something you use chalk with.
I wanted to use a chalk outline in the party some way without making it represent a dead body. The board below was another message we needed to decode. I used my Silhouette to cut out various shapes with letters in them. Once the shapes were cut, I arranged them on the board and traced around them with chalk.
The kids each drew a shape and placed it with the matching shape on the board. I went with shapes and letters on this one so all ages could participate. The little ones matched the shapes like a puzzle, and the older kids were able to read the message when it was completed. I made sure to use smaller words they would know, since the majority of the kids are new readers.
This completed message read “Look high and low.” I hid the next clue somewhere high where they could still find it. Make it fairly obvious if you have young guests.
Hidden somewhere high, the kids found an envelope. In the envelope was a card for each guest. I passed them out and they all used their magnifying glass to look for clues on the card. They were excited to point out that they found hangers, shirts and pants. We discussed what the clues could mean and they decided they were all things you would find in a closet. So off they went in search of a closet containing the next hidden clue.
In a closet the kids found this box. (You can hide the keys to it in the Jell-O or balloon game too if you want to add more suspense.)
We opened it to find a blank piece of paper. Boring! or so we thought…
We used the light on our spy pens to reveal the hidden message. Their moms were their secret admirers!!! We solved the case!
Upon further inspection, they discovered there was a false bottom in the box. When they removed it, they found a prize for each of them from their secret admirer. It was such a fun surprise.