Jeffrey’s Vintage Detective Party

detective party dessert table

detective party costume

I’ll give you a clue – this party is black, white with pops of color and full of style!  All of you detective and spy party lovers, this party is what you have been searching for!  Our recent Detective Party that I styled for Jeffrey’s 9th birthday was quite an exciting one full of activities!  It took me days to think of the perfect activities to keep 9 year old boys interested, excited and entertained!

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!

Be sure to keep your eye out for some of our favorite Party Details:
– Detective Training Camp activity with memory training, target training, speed (Pass the TNT game), accuracy training and more!
– A Criminal Case to solve to figure out who stole the party favors (with suspects like Hugh Jarms, Robin Banks, Joe King, Anita Bath and more funny names!)
– Detective’s Desk Dessert Table (to display magnifying glass cookies, chocolate mustaches, fingerprint cookies and detective “coffee” (chocolate milk))
– A Mug Shot Photo Booth with props
– Detective Costumes including custom tie t-shirts by Great Stitch, Detective Hats, Glasses and Mustache disguises.

Keep reading for all of the fun details! (Post is long – with loads of details!)

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

detective birthday party invitation

Also, see more past fabulous parties I’ve planned for my boys:
Modern Lego Party
Vintage Pop Art Super Hero Party
Retro Bowling Party
Ninja Party
Pizzeria Pizza Party
Dinosaur Excavation Party

detective party 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.

detective outfit

The gorgeous fingerprinted cake was made by Judi of Itz My Party Cakery in Milwaukee.

detective birthday party cake

I made these Chocolate Magnifying Glass Cookies on sticks and the kids couldn’t believe that they were cookies!  (I will share a tutorial soon!)  I used binder clips to hold the printable place cards from our printable detective party collection.

chocolate magnifying glass cookies

I also made these chocolate mustache lollipops and attached a printable party flag from our printable collection.

mustache lollipops

These chocolate covered pretzel detective pencil treats were a HIT! (Also made myself and I’ll share this tutorial soon as well!)

detective pencil chocolate pretzels

Erin Heflin of Whip It Good Cookies made these precious top secret and confidential cookies.  They were perfect for our detectives to snack on!

top secret cookies

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.

detective party candy display

Of course detectives eat donuts, so we displayed some simple powdered donuts with a printable party logo.

detective party donuts

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.

chocolate milk mugs

vintage camera props

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

detective coffee mugs

detective party backdrop


Instead of the plastic Crime Scene tape over the kids table, we opted to design a printable crime scene banner (available in our shop)

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!

detective party table setup

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!

detective donuts

The kids’ place setting is probably one of my favorite elements from the table setup.  I used black square plates (here or melamine ones here) 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!

detective party plates

detective party utensils

detective party place cards

detective party typewriter

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!

detective drink wraps

detective party table settings

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.
We decorated with big red metal containers and colorful magnifying glasses. SO CUTE!

Print My was so great about printing our big posters and signs that we offer in the shop.

detective party favor table

secret identity badges

The Detective Training Kit was a Black Gable Box (from Nashville Wraps) had a fun personalized name tag as well as the printable “top secret”, confidential, etc labels from our printables.

detective kits

The detective kits (above) included:
Invisible Ink Pens
Magnifying Glass
Mustaches (topped with our printable bag topper)
Mini Composition Books
ID Badge (Printable here)
Black Glasses

detective outfits

The detectives were asked to head to the Detective Fingerprinting Station.  (Printable available in our shop!)

detective party fingerprinting kit

fingerprinting activity

happy birthday banner

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:
– Recollection (Memory Training)
– Accuracy (Target Training)
– Speed (Pass the TNT)
– Intelligence (Code Breaking)
– Intuition (Blind Targeting – Pin the Magnifying Glass on the Detective)

Read on to see photos of all of our training activities!

detective training kit

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.

detective party memory training activity

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.

spy training

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.

detective party games

pin the magnifying glass on the detective game

detective blindfolded game

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!  (So easy to create using Clear Tubes, Red Tissue, Electrical Tape, Electrical Wire & a Timer and Red gumballs!)

pass the tnt game

pass the dynamite game

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! 

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

code breaking activity sheet

training camp letter

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?

criminal lineup backdrop

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!

detective party folders

criminal line up game

We used Clipboards to help the kids write on and keep their activities organized.

detective party games

decective case activity

detective game printables

criminal poloroids

After each activity, the detective who answered the clue correctly was the one who got to mark “innocent” onto the wall line up poster!

criminal case game

detective party footprint activity

criminal line up backdrop

detective party printables

spy party printable activity sheet

detective birthday party

spy party games

criminal lineup

detective party coloring poster

When the activities were ALL complete, the kids knew who the Guilty one was!  They all had SO much fun!

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. 

detective party favor bags

detective party loot

Our printable favor tag from the collection embellished the 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! 😉

detective party favor tags

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

detective party photo booth

mug shot photobooth

mug shot photobooth backdrop

My sweet friend, Jess, and I even got in on the action!


chocolate mustaches

All in all, the party was a success!

detective party family photo

Be sure to stay tuned on the blog for fun tutorials on how to make the Pencil Pretzels and Magnifying Glass Cookie Pops!

Find the Detective Printables in our shop!


– Event Concept, Design & Styling: Anders Ruff
– Professional Photography: Michelle Kujawski Photography
– Printable Invitation, Decor, Games & Posters: Anders Ruff Shop
– Mug Shot Photo Booth Backdrop: Anders Ruff Shop
– Custom Cake: Itz my Party Cakery
– Detective Shirts with Tie and Pocket: Great Stitch
– Custom Sugar Cookies: Whip It Good Cookies
– Clear Drinking Bottles: Via Blossom
– Printing Service courtesy of Print My
– Tissue Paper, Gable Boxes, Cello Bags: Nashville Wraps

Additional PRODUCT SOURCES to help you create your own Detective Party:
Crime Scene Tape
Black Desk Lamp or here
Vintage Cameras
Grand Telephone Prop
Black Magnifying Glasses
Clip Boards
3 Tier Wire File Tray
Metal Boxes or Awesome Tin Containers for Height
– Detective Desk (to display desserts)
Bulletin Board
Red Metal Boxes (as seen on detective headquarters table)

Kraft Newsprint Wrapping Paper Runner
Clasped Envelopes (as shown used for utensils) with Stickers
– Black Square Plates here or melamine here
– White with Polka Dot Plates
– To Go Coffee Cups (with the printable wrapper)
Binder Clips (used to hold place cards)
Yellow and White Striped Straws

Detective Hats & Pipe set
Black Framed Glasses
Detective Mustaches
Magnifying Glasses
Colorful Bright Magnifying Glasses

– Chocolate Mustache Lollipops: Using Mustache Molds & Lollipop Sticks
– Magnifying Glass Oreo Cookies: Anders Ruff Tutorial here
– Chocolate Pretzel Pencils: Anders Ruff Tutorial here

Combination Safes (favors)
Fake Money
Finger Print Tattoos
Mini Composition Notebooks
Old Fashioned Candy Sticks

Criminal Case Solving Activity
– All Printable Activities found in the Anders Ruff shop
– Target Practice Poster here and darts here
Pin the Magnifying Glass on the Detective Game here
Mug Shot Photo Booth Background
Criminal Line Up Poster
– Pass the TNT Game: Using Clear Tubes, Red Tissue, Electrical Tape, Electrical Wire & a Timer (and Red gumballs for prize version)

Printable Labels
Invisible Ink Pens
Magnifying Glass
Mustaches (topped with our printable bag topper)
Mini Composition Books
ID Badge (Printable here)
Black Glasses


  1. So, so awesome. Love all the details and the games to keep the kids involved. The little combination safes as favors was brilliant. So creative and imaginative as always.

  2. WOW! I am in AWE with all the details and the amount of love you poured into this party for your little man. You always style the most amazing parties like EVER. Thanks for sharing all your tips here. Love it!!

  3. This is an absolutely AWESOME job on a wonderful party theme for a boy! Great details! Thanks so much for sharing….

  4. Maureen! WOW!! This party is so much fun! The thought that went into all of the details and activities is so impressive. I think I smiled through the entire post! I love it all and I love how your creativity and wit show through in so many ways!! Really, really fabulous!

    1. You are SO sweet, Lydia! I loved doing it so much and our family loves joking around, so of course I had to come up with funny names etc! ha! SO FUN! Thanks again – means a LOT to me!

  5. OMG!! WOW!! I just love how creative you are, I waited for weeks to see this party post! You’re amazing! I had to share with everyone….

    1. You are just SO sweet, Jessica. Thank you soooo much. Hearing that makes my job so much more rewarding! 😉

  6. What a cute party!! I love how it reminds of me of the older days. Where did you get the idea for the place cards? So smart! Thank you for linking up to Party Time and we hope to see you again next week!

    1. Hi Jacqui! Thanks! I actually had some binder clips in my stash that I wanted to use at the party somewhere and just was playing around. It worked SO perfectly!!!

  7. I LOVE this party – I always loved to play detective when I was little and so does my oldest son. Such a great way to celebrate! Thanks for linking up to the #PartyTime – hope to see you again next Tuesday!

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