Sunday, December 27, 2020

Advent List 2020

This year started just like any other...  

In the attempt to make things as normal for my children as possible, I have decided to go all out with Advent Activities this year, COVID style.

The Advent Activities are a prized tradition in our household.  They are waited for all year and even my adult children like to get in on the action.  This year proved to be a bit of a challange when coming up with 24 family activities.  My daughter has a full time job, my husbands job is more stressful than ever, and most of the activities that we usually enjoy are canceled... but I decided to rise to the occasion and see if I couldn't finish out this year as good as it started (instead of all the garbage in the middle).

Advent Activities 2020

12/1 Getting our chocolate calendars and watching Elf (a December 1st Tradition!)
12/2 Getting our tree and making our yearly ornament
12/3 Making Cocoa Bombs
12/4 Making some ornaments for the birds
12/5 Put out  your shoes for St Nick
12/6 St Nicholas Day!
12/7 Winter Lantern craft
12/8 Making personal pizza and watching It's a Wonderful Life
12/9 Salt Crystal Snowflake 
12/10 Special Chocolate (mom teaches this day)
12/11 Waldorf style stained glass window stars
12/12 Gingerbread Houses
12/13 Fantasy Lights
12/14 Baking Orange Bread (For Saint Lucia's Day)
12/15 Shopping for siblings
12/16 Zoo Lights with Hot Cocoa
12/17 Grow A Tree activity
12/18 Game Night!
12/19 Drive-Through Nativity
12/20 Shop for mom & Dad
12/21 Christmas Light Scavneger Hunt
12/22 Caroling!
12/23 Cookies and gifts for neighbors
12/24 Create an Advent Tree

Sometimes we don’t do them all but it’s always fun to try!  


Monday, February 3, 2020

Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery Party

"My name is Sherlock Holmes.  It is my business to know what other people do not know." 

-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Blu

This murder mystery party was a blast!  Come see how I set up and executed (pun totally intended) a murder mystery dinner for 20 teens in my house, complete with hidden clues, a detectives board, and an incredible dinner!

For the last year, my 12 year old has been obbsessed with the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Specifically, anything Sherlock Holmes.  So in honor of his 13th birthday, along with my love of literature themed parties, I decided to throw him the biggest bash ever! (With a side of murder.)

Although the party was mostly my invention and imagination, the murder mystery game was purchased from a website. Here is the synopsis (and link) of the game off of the website

"Sherlock and Watson are hosting a dinner party with an intriguing group of guests at their flat on Baker Street. Londoners were shocked recently when the infamous Lord Blackstone assisted Scotland Yard with the capture of the depraved serial killer, Victor von Vacher. Has Lord Blackstone turned a new leaf and abandoned his cult of followers? Or, is this all a ruse to gain the trust of those he seeks to destroy? Alas, you have been invited to the party and wouldn't miss it for the world. This is where your story begins."

The entire thing was based at a upscale dinner party so I decided to feed the kids a menu that the birthday boy was thrilled to be part of.
  • Appetizers: Shrimp cocktail, Sherlock Holmes silhouette cookies, and black licorice pipes.
  • Drinks: Tea and sparkling cider.
  • Soup Course: Chicken and rice soup with overnight crusty bread.
  • Main Course: Roast beef, roast potatoes, & gravy, and vegetable tray.
  • Dessert: mini pies, cinnamon bunt cake, lemon bunt cake, lemon mini tarts.
I wish I got more photos of the food, but I had 20 teens in my house so every thing was snapped up the second it went out except the cake.

The invitations had costume suggestions that went along with each character, and all of our incredible guests showed up ready to play the part!  I had a few favorites;

Seriously, our friends are the best!!

The decor was all focused on Victorian era apartment style, similar to one that Sherlock Holmes himself would have had.  I used a large, black, science fair, tri-fold board and stuck it to the wall with contact strips.  Then came the fun part.  I printed a poster sized map of 1859 London and placed it in the center.  Then, I added clues and fun bits of trivia and I had a investigator's murder wall.

Between Google and my vintage newspaper collection, I didn't buy anything but paper for this project.  I wanted it to resemble what Sherlock may have had up on his walls when he was doing an investigation so it was messy, kind of all-over-the-place and with ripped parts of newspapers, and even a bloody handkerchief for good measure.

The rest of the decor followed suit.

All kinds of vintage London and candlelight, with a touch of macabre.

The game was set up in rounds with three stages and a solution round.  The guests got their character bio-sheets along with their invitations and were able to start with pregame clues as soon as they got here.

I chose a special girl for the victim. I knew she would eat up the part as she is a wonderful stage actress and even assistant director before she graduated.

She was perfect for the part of the opera star who had blackmailed one too many people at the party...

Clues were found, characters were accused, and lots of laughs were had.

After the game, we had fun at the photo booth which I set up to look like a vintage mug shot wall.

Our constable helped us round up the suspects.

Last but not least, the favors. Because the theme was so complex and took so much, I made simple favors for the kids to take with them. Something to encourage reading. Maybe even a bit of Sherlock Holmes.
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