Back in February, I told you about the American Girl Mystery party kit that I stumbled upon while shopping the post-holiday sale on americangirl.com. It looked like fun, so I snatched it up to use for Petunia's upcoming birthday. Well, the big event took place a couple of months ago and I finally have a moment to recap it here.
First, let me just say that the kit itself was incredibly well done. Since it was on sale, I purchased it with the intention of making my own invitations, etc. and just using the kit for the scripts and party concept. However, everything included was so beautifully done that even overly-particular me happily used every bit of it - invitations and all! (of course, Petunia and I embellished a bit by adding our own party favors and decoration)
The concept of the party was a little story to be played out by the party guests in which they solved a mystery surrounding a young orphan. Each guest was assigned a role in advance by way of their party invitation. The parent's booklet that came with the kit gave great tips on which roles would suit party guests with different personalities, so Petunia and I sat down and went over her guest list and assigned the roles together. Each girl received a character card in her invitation giving her a bit of background on the role she would play and suggestions for how to dress. The one drawback of the invitations was that I thought they were a bit presumptuous in that they suggested what the guest should wear and that they should bring their American Girl doll to the party. I simply included my own note saying that any favorite doll would be fine and that costumes would be available at the party so that the parents would not stress about what to have their child wear.
Much of the set up of the party was dictated by the story's script. We made a banner to indicate the location of the drawing room (key to the play out of the story) and set the table and placed clues as instructed in the parent's guide. The party decor was dictated by the color scheme of the invites and party scripts; highlighting the purple in these accessories with banners, balloons and table decor.
The banners over the table and across the rooms were made from just a few sheets of scrapbook paper that we cut into triangles and hung from thin ribbon. This was definitely a case of necessity being the mother of invention as we could only find a few sheets of the paper that Petunia preferred. We stretched those sheets as far as we could and the banners turned out fun and whimsical, really reflecting the new, modern, girly look that American Girl has recently adopted. The girls loved them and suggested we should leave them up all year long!
Petunia and I decided that we would make flower headbands similar to those that she obsesses over at Crewcuts. The headbands would double as party favors and "costumes" for the party guests. Honestly, if I had to do it over, I would have left Petunia at home when I went to purchase the supplies for the headbands. The bright pink flowers that she selected were not exactly what I had in mind but it was her party, so I went with it and found matching pink ribbon in my stash to cover the black Goody headbands that I purchased at Target (3 for about $4). I have to admit that once I saw all the girls wearing them, I fell in love with the pink and the girls adored them. Even now, some two months later, I get a kick out of seeing a girl wearing the headband at school drop off and pick up. For the first week after the party, the girls wore them to school every day!
Turns out, it was completely unnecessary to provide the headbands as makeshift costumes for the party guests as each girl came perfectly dressed to play her role. Petunia was thrilled that everyone was so excited to dress up for her party and the flower headbands added that extra flair to the costumes to get the girls in the mood to perform. Once all the guests arrived, they were each given a beautiful script provided in the kit and some brief instructions about stage direction and props. Then it was curtains up!
The girls performed the play beautifully and it was an adorable story with a great message. They were so excited to solve the mystery as the clues were revealed; you could almost see the little light bulbs turning on above their heads as they figured it all out. The screeches once the mystery was revealed were definitely heard for miles.
After the mystery was solved, the girls had worked up a great appetite (although the story did call for cookies to be served, which they all made quick work of!). They chatted excitedly about the mystery solved while eating sandwiches and drinking water from their personalized water bottles created especially for the party.
While the purpose of the customized water bottles was to prevent guests from losing track of their drinks, we all know that little girls love anything with their name on it and ended up taking them home to refill with water and bring to school.
After cupcakes and gifts, the parents arrived to hear the girls' excitedly chatter about the play. They left with their keepsake scripts and a favor wrapped and embellished with a thank you sticker to match the party theme.
A few weeks later (I wish it were sooner!), thank you notes were sent featuring a photo of the party guests modeling their flower headbands.
A FEW NOTES:
One of the great things about this party is that there were limited roles in the story, requiring Petunia to keep the guest list short. I think this really added to the success of the party as it kept the party manageable and the chaos to a minimum.
Girls love the details! The party guests were just as excited about the simple paper banners and flower headbands as they were about acting out the mystery. Simple, inexpensive touches really added to the tone of this party.
Have extras on hand! The girls loved the water bottle and cupcake picks so much that they wanted to take them home. I packed each girl up with an extra water bottle and let them take an unused cupcake pick if they wanted.
I highly recommend this party for any group of girls aged 8 to 12. My girls were on the young end of the spectrum and played out the story beautifully, but I would not recommend this party for groups younger than 8. The Samantha Mystery Party kit is no longer available, but there is a Molly Mystery available here with a Halloween theme. At only $4, pick it up now and plan ahead for a great Halloween party!