My kids encountered Mail Order Mystery for the first time last year. They still remember the thrill of finding mysterious envelopes in the mailbox and then the excitement of figuring out the clues to solve the case. They were completely blown away by the experience!
Basically, Mail Order Mystery is a story for kids told through a series of clues and documents that come in the mail. That doesn’t even begin to cover the magic of the whole experience though. Once a week, a mysterious envelope or package arrives in the mail addressed directly to your child. Each mailing contains an assortment of handwritten letters, secret missions, newspaper articles, and book pages, along with old keys, mysterious objects, puzzles to solve, codes to crack, and clues of all kinds.
When ordering a Mail Order Mystery, you can choose to have one installment mailed per week, or you can request to have all six envelopes sent at the same time so you can hand them out on your schedule. Last year we had them delivered one at a time. The kids were thrilled to get their own mail, and they couldn’t wait to check the mailbox every day. This year though, we had Mail Order Mystery send all the installments at once. This flexible option is perfect to take along on road trips, spending the holidays at Grandma’s, or keeping the kids busy over winter break.
At first I thought about sneaking out to the mailbox and hiding the envelopes for my girls to find, but then I thought, “What if we add the element of a treasure hunt to the fun?” So every couple of days I hid the next envelope somewhere around the house and gave them a clue or two so they had the fun of figuring out the clues to find the clues to the mystery!
This year we received The Case of the Missing Bigfoot – a whodunit featuring a secret society, a secluded mansion, and a cast of seven suspects.
Our first installment came in a big white envelope addressed to both my girls. In it was a letter from a Detective Mulberry pleading for Tee and Kay’s help in solving a recent crime. You see, a local wealthy widow had invited some associates to a fancy dinner party where she planned to reveal her late husband’s long lost photographic proof of Bigfoot. But just before the dinner party, the Bigfoot photos were stolen from a locked safe. Who took them and why?
The first envelope also included the guest list, a dropped dinner invitation found at the scene, the unfinished dinner speech, a newspaper clipping, a photocopied page from Show Me the Cryptid Handbook and Field Guide, and a colour photo of the crime scene (nothing graphic). Subsequent envelopes contained, among other things, secret codes, witness interviews, fingerprints, a blank detective’s notebook, and a copy of Shark & Pirate magazine.
The attention to detail was outstanding. Each envelope was meticulously prepared with handwritten notes addressed to my kids, ciphers and riddles, even an entire original magazine created for the case. One of the envelopes came with a large suspect board and index cards representing each suspect for the kids to organize all the possible culprits.
Every new installment brought some answers to the last envelope’s puzzles, but also more questions. It wasn’t until the final envelope that everything was revealed. We received a signed confession and a unique Show Me the Cryptid “field kit” zippered shoulder bag containing 20 large illustrated collector cards featuring mysterious beasts, along with a blank notebook for the kids to take notes on their own cryptid hunts in the future. Where was this when I was a kid?
The Case of the Missing Bigfoot is intended for kids nine and up mainly because of the reading level and the amount of reading required. Compared to our previous mysteries, this one has significantly more reading and code breaking than Treasure Hunt! and The Enchanted Slumber, both of which are intended for a slightly younger audience. My daughters worked on the case together, with eight-year-old Tee reading out loud to her six-year-old sister. Just like last time, we all ended up working on the mystery together anyway. We took turns reading the letters and suspect interviews out loud and worked on deciphering the ciphers together.
Mail Order Mystery has created a completely immersive experience that fosters creativity and imagination, and engages kids in reading, problem-solving, and exercising their critical thinking skills without them even realizing it. I can’t recommend them highly enough, and my girls both agree. This is truly a gift of wonder and mystery for Christmas and year round!
Mail Order Mystery currently offers four different mysteries: Treasure Hunt! ($99), The Enchanted Slumber ($99), Spies, Lies and Serious Bad Guys ($109), and The Case of the Missing Bigfoot ($109). After you purchase your mystery, you can download and print out a gift note to put in your card or under the tree.
Disclosure: I received a sample item to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ.