Superhero mystery party ideas
November 19, 2013 10:44 PM   Subscribe

Planning a superhero-themed 11th birthday party. Birthday girl wants it to be like a murder mystery party, with one guest a supervillain who must be defeated. Any suggestions?

I'm helping the soon-to-be-11-year-old I babysit plan her birthday party, and she has some very definite ideas. She's come up with powers, origin stories, and alter egos for each guest, and I'm designing her a top secret dossier/invitation she can fill out with info and instructions. She wants to have a superhero 'battle' with silly string and toy weapons. She wants a star-shaped cake. (She's better at baking than I am, though, so that one's on her.)

Ideas for how to make the mystery element of the party work, as well as the battle, would be much appreciated. I'd also love some suggestions for snacks and treats to serve, decorations, and games to play. Have scoured Pinterest but most of the superhero parties on there seem to be geared to much younger kids. Thoughts?
posted by nonasuch to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Can I go back in time to be 11 years old so I can attend this awesome event? PLEASE??

- Are you providing the costumes ?

My idea is you could tell all party guests to dress in the monotone colour of their choosing, then when they arrive you can provide masks, capes, wigs, and accessories for each character.

I've got nothing else. As a parent, I'd love it if you made the costume part easy on me.

Enjoy! This sounds great!!
posted by jbenben at 11:19 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Very cool idea. There's the trope where various items of importance are scattered/hidden around the world and the heroes need to retrieve them, and in this case, perhaps to defeat the villain.

Another idea is to have a set of villains (the adults, maybe), guarding valuables in different parts of the house. And only a particular hero's powers can defeat a particular villain, or in certain combinations. And maybe each of those valuables make up something big and cool.

I like the premise of it being cooperative, especially if they don't realize it at first. It's a birthday party, and you don't really want any kids "losing" and having the party ruined for them. Unless I'm just getting soft.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:27 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

The secret super villain could have some secret Kryptonite-esque thingie that robs heroes of their powers and makes them so weak they fall down and can't move. That way they could be "dead" without being dead, and at the end they can all get their powers back and go back to running around and making noise.

Other than that, I got nothin'.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:35 AM on November 20, 2013

Some LARPs (live action role playing games) use games of rock-paper-scissors instead of throwing dice to see who wins a battle, then they act it out if that's how the game goes. Another alternative is to draw a playing card from a shuffled deck, add stats as needed according to the character, and see who's got the highest number.

As for the murder mystery plot, sorry, but have you read the comic/ seen the film of Watchmen? It is most definitely *not* for 11 year olds *at all*, but it is a superhero murder mystery that could give you some ideas, or at least a laugh...
posted by sukeban at 2:15 AM on November 20, 2013

You could work it like top trumps. Give everyone a couple of cool powers, but also give them weaknesses. Group the powers/weaknesses so that they can be compared (e.g. fighting, defense/regeneration, strength, movement, visibility) The supervillain would then basically have fewer weaknesses, or no weakness apart from a major achilles heel. By flipping a coin you could determine which child got to select the category to compete on.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:50 AM on November 20, 2013

While the party idea itself sounds like a barrel of fun, I'd be leery of pre-choosing one kid to be the supervillian (and possibly even pre-assigning each kid a specific set of attributes). The problem is, that's naming one kid IN ADVANCE to be the outcast, and --- depending on the kids in the group --- could turn out with that kid in tears. And pre-choosing each 'superhero's' attributes leads to playing favorites.

Perhaps have *an adult* be the supervillian? That would remove the chance of this turning into some sort of meangirls festival. And for the superheros, make up the sets of attributes, but then have the kids randomly draw them out of a hat or something. The kids could come in monotones, like jbenben suggests, and the superhero packs would include badges, a list of attributes as well as each one's version of kryptonite and so on.

(Sorry if this all sounds like a partypooper, but I was bullied as a kid myself, even by kids who called themselves my friends, and can see how this could turn bad.)
posted by easily confused at 2:57 AM on November 20, 2013 [12 favorites]

The supervillain must be an adult, because getting on over on an adult and tying them up in a cupboard is the most fun thing ever, whereas defeating a randomly chosen small child is (as aforementioned) just bullying.

I feel that this adult might perhaps take a stuffed animal hostage in the room where the food is laid out, and the challenge is to gain control of the area, rescue the animal and then obviously eat all the food.

One could imagine a series of puzzles leading to identifying the challenge, being able to open the door, and then a pitched battle of some kind leading to the final defeat. If the room in question has two doors, then some strategising involving sneaking up from the rear could be introduced at a late stage when the battle is not going particulary well.
posted by emilyw at 3:25 AM on November 20, 2013 [8 favorites]

Following on Easily Confused's idea that a grownup by the villain:

Presumably there will be more than one grownup, right? Let's assume there are three adults. Tell the kids that two of the grownups were born on earth and are sworn to defend the planet. One of them is an evil alien who wants to conquer the world. The only way to discover who is the undercover alien is to scour the "earth" looking for clues to the hero's origins.

Then send them around the "earth" (actually, around the house) looking for clues you have hidden. These clues will relate to two of the grownups but not the third. For example, if one of the grownups is a super-detective, there might be a picture of Sherlock Holmes. Or, alternatively, they could find puzzle pieces; putting these puzzles together will result in pictures of two of the grownups.

One the kids have found the clues, they can see that they relate to only two of the grownups. These are the two grownups who must come from earth, since clues to their origins were found all around the planet. But there are no traces anywhere on Earth of the third grownup. That must mean s/he is an alien who has just arrived from outer space! It's the villain! ATTACK THEM WITH SILLY STRING!!!!! TIE THEM UP! SAVE THE EARTH!
posted by yankeefog at 3:29 AM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

Or maybe there could be teams of villains and heroes? I agree with the comments above that singling out one kid could turn a bit lord of the flies. Or like this?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:55 AM on November 20, 2013

Here is a free script and plan to host an adult mystery party dinner.
I would think that you could modify this script to suit your needs.
posted by Flood at 4:16 AM on November 20, 2013

I'd go the Mad Hatter route. Main villain has a goofy hat/helmet that allows them to control other adults via similarly goofy hats. Minion hats give the adults personalities/powers based on the goofy hat (so plastic Viking hat = Swedish chef style speech, love of meatballs) Kids defeat the minions by getting them to take off their hats (trade hat for meatballs).

After all the adults are free, they can help the kids create special Mind Bands (tinfoil hats? crafty opportunity here) to go defeat the main bad by using their combined mind power to provide enough mental feedback to him/her go jump in a pool or something equally silly.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:18 AM on November 20, 2013

How about a variation on that murder mystery game, where there's a thief, a doctor, etc etc... Each superhero flies around the room talking heroically with another super hero, knowing their own (three) super powers. Heroic music plays, each hero pairs up and must defeat the villain they are with, the first hero says how they will defeat the villain with super power X, and the second hero says 'but wait, I'm not the villain, I'll use my super power Y to defend and defeat the real villain. Everyone votes which power usage they liked best, and the looser turns out to be the villain. At the end, everyone has a list of their super deeds. At the end, the hero of heroes is left standing, and so is the arch villain.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:23 AM on November 20, 2013

For an 11-year-old? Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz. Multiple "-inators" that the party guests have to figure out how to defeat, using the silly string and various other things you find at the dollar store.

Can I also get an invite to this party? Because it sounds like the best.
posted by jbickers at 5:19 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd do a hunt guided by clues. You could have it be a race to get to the valuable MacGuffin. You can get a thingamagig and hide it. Leave a trail of clues from one place to the other, with couplets that guide the groups to the next clue. So, a little reading, some thinking and then running around like idiots to find the next clue. I'd do about 5 clues for each team, with the final clue the same for each. So you only have to think of 9 clues.

Start of by taking a picture of the item, so they know what they're looking for. Then send them on their respective ways to search for it. Each picture should be accompanied by the first clue in the game.

For example: I have two hands to show you the way, I was right two times today! The clue could be in a broken clock. The clue in the broken clock could be: I'm opened twice six time a week, my door is rusted, so I may creak. The clue would be in the mail box. Then from there: The valuable MacGuffin is at hand! I have no legs, but yet I stand! You can hide the whatever in a ficus in a plant stand. Maybe it's Barbie dressed as Supergirl.

Whichever team finds it gets bragging rights.

I'm thinking that keeping 11 year olds on task, especially in a group, with silly string, is going to be a challenge, so the mystery activity should only last about 30 minute.

As for the fight, that can be once one of the teams has the MacGuffin. Then the other team can fight them for it! You can be the Commissioner and say, "Oh Yay! The heros have the MacGuffin! I sure hope the villains don't fight them for it!" Or you can say, "Oh NO! The Villains have the MacGuffin, I sure hope the Heros fight them to get it back!"

You could do some goofy stuff, Pin the Cape on the Superhero. A Batman piñata. Or a Star Piñata.

Then open presents, cake, ice cream, punch, and Pick up your kid now that he's filthy and jazzed on sugar.

I'm thinking that the party should only last about 2-2.5 hours. No more than that. Corral your friends to help with the activities and to make sure that hoards of kids aren't careening through the bedrooms looking for clues in underwear drawers.

Sounds like fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:50 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

A good-natured older brother/cousin would also make for an excellent super-villain.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:09 AM on November 20, 2013

As I see it, the main difficulty in tailoring a murder mystery party to fit a superhero theme is that the culprit is obvious if everyone is dressed as a superhero except for one guest dressed as a villain. A possible solution would be to have the villain be The Chameleon (from Spider-Man), who is disguised as one of the heroes in attendance. This would allow for deduction, in the murder mystery party style.

Yeah, that's all I got.
posted by joelhunt at 6:18 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, guys! A scavenger hunt for the villain's weakness is a great idea, and rock-paper-scissors for the battle will work nicely.

For the record, the birthday girl checked in advance to make sure the kid she tapped for villainy is okay with being the villain. He's apparently super excited about it. He also gets mind control powers, so he can recruit other kids to be his minions.

Looks like the plan is to hand out invitations early enough that the guests all have time to design their own costumes. We might have a mask-making craft activity, though.
posted by nonasuch at 7:48 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another idea would be for there to be a big star divided into sections, matching, say, the number of teams if you go that route. When the game is completed, the star would be put together, and then you present the cake. I just have the Triforce from Zelda on the mind.

And I like the earlier idea of stuffed animals playing the role of hostages.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:25 AM on November 20, 2013

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