Last Minute New Year’s Eve: Sherlock Holmes Party & DIY Detective Kits

The Best Laid PlansScreening Lists : Food & Drink : DIY Detective Kits : Fingerprint Chart

The Best Laid Plans

Sydney Paget’s Illustration

“Excellent!” I cried. “Elementary,” said he.
– “The Adventure of the Crooked Man,” Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

I didn’t think I would be writing another Lunchbox Season post until 2012. The Advent Shadowbox has been set aside for next winter. And, for the first time in a long time, we had plans for a family New Year’s party outside of our home.  Unfortunately, our friends have had to cancel their New Year’s Eve bash due to illness. So, we had to come up with something festive to do as a family at home.

The kids have been taken with The Hound of the Baskervilles DVD that I received in my stocking on Christmas morning, playing “scenes” from this movie and from the preferred Basil Rathbone version they watched online. They’ve also been asking for the Gutenburg Library copy of the Baskervilles novel that came on the ereader they gave me a year or so ago.  While I’m not ready to let them watch my copy of  the fabulous BBC Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch just yet (another fabulous Stocking Stuffer – but a little too adult), I have let them screen the recent Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) adaptation from a few years back.  In any case, in searching for a theme, there was no doubt about it  – a family Sherlock Holmes party was going to be a surefire hit with the kids and with the parents, too.

Screening Lists

Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes T-shirt available from

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”
– A Study in Scarlet

Of course, this isn’t the half of it….
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939), Basil Rathbone
Pearl of Death (1944), Basil Rathbone
Sherlock Holmes: Dressed to Kill (1946), Basil Rathbone
Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), Writer: Chris Columbus
Already Viewed:
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), Basil Rathbone
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), Peter Cushing
Sherlock Holmes (2009), Robert Downey Jr.
Parents Only:
The Spider Woman (1944), Basil Rathbone
They Might be Giants (1971), George C. Scott
Murder by Decree (1979), Christopher Plummer
Already Viewed:
Sherlock (2010), Benedict Cumberbatch

Food & Drink

“Great sorrow or great joy should bring intense hunger–not abstinence from food, as our novelists will have it.”
– The Poison Belt

This is a last-minute party, so our Menu will consist of take-out. We’ll either order British Style Fish & Chips or Hakka Chinese. 

If we had more time on our hands, we might have chosen to serve a Full English Breakfast (Holmes was sometimes known to indulge in those) or a traditional English meal such as Bangers & Mash or Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding. If we were going uber Holmes, we might have tried Fricassee of Eel or Violets Dipped in Beer Batter and Fried…but we’re not there yet.

As for Beverages, well, those are New Year’s Fare. We’ll be serving Sparkling Juice to the kids. Meanwhile, my husband and I will indulge in a few pints of Guinness, a drop of Whiskey, and perhaps a Champagne Cocktail (Champagne or Prosecco and Chambourd).


DIY Detective Kits

“I can never bring you to realize the importance of sleeves, the suggestiveness of thumb-nails, or the great issues that may hang from a boot-lace.”
– A Case of Identity

Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without a few great favours for the kids! After heading out to the dollar store for some New Year’s Eve themed items and some “Spy” gear, I came up with this DIY Detective Kit (in a New Year’s Hat):

Supplies (per Detective Kit)

Glittery Top Hat, Gift Box, Bag, or Other Large Container
Magnifying Glass
Toy Binoculars
Notebook & Pen
Colourful Masks (2 of 5-pack)
Small Plastic Bead Containers (3 of 6-pack)
Small Paint Brush
Lemon Juice (or Baking Soda and Water)
Baby Powder
Large “Powder” Makeup Brush
Roll of Scotch Tape in a Dispenser
Ink Pad for Rubber Stamps
Plain Paper, Legal Sized
Sticky-Backed Paper (8.5×11 sheet), a Label Maker, or Plain Paper & Tape
Computer & Printer or Pen

How to Fill that Glittery Top Hat…

Fingerprint Removal Kit
Fingerprint Dust: one small plastic bead container filled with baby powder and labeled with sticky-backed paper.
Fingerprint Duster: a large “powder” make-up brush labeled with sticky-backed paper.
Fingerprint Removal Tape: a roll of scotch tape, labeled.

A Fingerprinting Kit
Fingerprint Chart: I created a fingerprint-chart image posted below) and pasted it into a word doc, printing it on legal paper.
Stamper’s Ink Pad, labeled “Fingerprinting Ink”


Specimen Bottle & Toy Binoculars
A small plastic bead container, labeled “Specimen Bottle” for collecting evidence.
Toy Binoculars


Invisible Ink Kit

A small plastic bead container filled with lemon juice (or baking soda and water), labeled “Invisible Ink”
A paint brush
Instructions: Use the paint brush to write words and draw pictures with the liquid on paper.
Let it dry.
Use a heat source such as a light bulb or grape juice to reveal the secret code.


Flashlight & Interchangeable Masks

Two different coloured party masks of the same size and shape, but of a different colour. Explain to the kids that they can “change identies” at a masked party in order to remain inconspicuous while investigating.
A flashlight will do the kids a better service than an oil lamp, no doubt.


Notebook, Pen, & Magnifying Glass
For use only by the “Consulting Detective(s)” in the room…

Update: The Kids LOVE their Detective Kits!


Fingerprint Chart
Feel free to right click on the image below and save a copy for your files.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to Last Minute New Year’s Eve: Sherlock Holmes Party & DIY Detective Kits

  1. ingridkeenan January 3, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    What a great idea! We watched an episode of Sherlock the other night – so excellent.