Thursday, February 14, 2013

Murder Mystery Birthday Party

Ma Fille is officially eleven years old. Really, I don't know how it happened.

I can see a photo file flipping through my mind of her as a newborn, bobbing around in the Texas summers with her chubby tummy and curly halo of hair, holding her baby brother while they watched Sesame Street in the mornings, hiking around Ireland as brave as you please, wearing her burgundy pinafore and necktie to Catholic public school, pigtails, ponytails, another baby brother, French bob, braces, gangly growth spurts, bravely learning a new language, making new friends, holding hands, swimming and diving, running and laughing, sitting at the edge of it all, sparkly painted toes on the precipice of teenager. 

She loves Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and recently Nero Wolfe, which she watched while home from school with this last batch of la grippe, so she asked me if she could have a murder mystery party this year. It couldn't be something easy like bowling or bouncy playscape, and not outside because the weather in February is unpredictable, moreover her first choice, the ice skating rink, was booked through April. And so that left us with me writing a murder mystery to be solved by eight pre-ado French girls.

You may remember when we first moved here and I bravely (stupidly) wrote a treasure hunt birthday party in French for her 9th birthday. You may also remember the incident of the dumpster blackboard that was questionably abandoned and fortuitously reunited with its previous owner. But still, I persevered and started searching around on the Internet like crazy for mystery themed party ideas.

There are loads! But they mostly come in ready-made packets, in English, and at a price. I had to do it on my own. So, I took the idea of Clue and its five questions to answer: 1) who 2) why 3) where 4) when and 5) with what and got to it. I wrote two sets of clues, one set that led teams of two to the big five questions that had to be solved from riddles and word play. We decided on a flower theme and each girl was given a flower to dress as--tulip, jasmine, hyacinth, daisy, rose, you get it....

For example, I placed the 'who' clues in an envelope in the washing machine but in order to get the teams there, I wrote a poem about blood being spun free of clothing. They liked it. And so did I. I have to admit that I had the best time ever coming up with it all, writing it and translating, cutting up paper to distort messages, and keeping it all in order in so many blood-red envelopes. The best part was watching them figure it out. They had a ball running around the house, whispering and gathering clues that led them to the gruesome discovery that the birthday girl, Mademoiselle Rose had used her thorns to poison Monsieur Bouquet, a role played by her very own brother, the Middlest.

If you'd like some ideas or help pulling off your own murder or sommeil profond party, just ask me. I'd be delighted to help. In English or French, ce que vous voulez.

My favorite moment? When Ma Fille said, 'But you didn't actually write it all? Not the poem about the washing machine?' To which I happily replied, 'Mais oui! Yes, I did.' Anything for you, my love.

Oh, yeah, Happy Valentine's Day.


  1. Hooray!! Bravo for Love. Bravo to you and your wonderful family.
    Gros Bisous,

  2. I am so very impressed! But please share your washing machine poem!!

    1. Qu’il tourne, qu’il tourne et le sang sur ma habit soit claire
      Qu'il tourne, qu’il tourne, il disparaît
      Il n'y a aucune trace de rouge sur mes vêtements après…
      Qu’il tourne, qu’il tourne.

      Don't laugh!

    2. What a sweet post Aidan and how clever you are to invent and write the mystery clues and poem, all in French. I am totally impressed! I may have to do this for one of my grandkids when they a little bit older. I will be coming to you for help. Joyeuse St Valentin !!!

  3. Sounds like a great birthday party and Many Happy Returns to the Birthday girl. The poem is brilliant! We were celebrating this weekend too. I took seven twelve year olds into Paris by train and metro for ice skating in front of the Hôtel de Ville. So simple, yet so glamorous!

  4. Bravo to you, and Happy B'day to l'ainee!

  5. Man, you're one creative woman! I wish I'd been at your Clue party.

  6. As the mother of an eleven year old girl, this brought tears to my eyes! Brava!

  7. Hey murder mystery games always so funny and specially I am so excited for these games. It creates completely new atmosphere in any parties.

  8. Hello Aidan,

    We're a start-up Murder Mystery Party company based in the UK, and we'd like to offer you one of our host-it-yourself games for free, in the hope that if you like it you might blog about us :)

    They're terribly easy to organise - our website sends out the invitations directly, by email. See

    If you're interested, get in touch at, and also please feel free to pass the offer on to other bloggers.


    Martin (for Daggerville Games)


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