Mail Order Mystery Kids Box “Treasure Hunt” Review
Mail Order Mystery is a weekly service that sends a series of letters, artifacts, and objects through the mail all revolving around a mysterious story. Envelopes might arrive from anyone at any time and will contain clues or other information related to the story. At the end, you will receive keepsakes or artifacts that are unique to the story.
Mail Order Mystery offers several different story themes that are designed for ages 8-13. They offer a Treasure Hunt! or Enchanted Slumber for $76 + shipping, and Spies, Lies & Serious Bad Guys! for $85 + shipping.
This review is of the 6-week Treasure Hunt box.
FYI – Mail Order Mystery sent all 6 weeks together for review purposes. Subscribers will receive one letter each week for 5 weeks, and then the keepsake on the 6th week.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review purposes. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).
About Mail Order Mystery
The Subscription Box: Mail Order Mystery
The Cost: This depends on the mystery you choose, but prices range from $76 to $85 + shipping.
The Products: A series of letters and objects related to the story theme mailed at various times with a final delivery of artifacts or keepsakes.
Ships to: U.S. for $9 USD ($12 CAD), Canada for free, and $29 CAD for orders outside Canada and the US.
Good to know: The shipping fee covers all letters and mailings for the duration of the chosen mystery.
Mail Order Mystery Treasure Hunt Review
When you order your mystery they ask you what date you would like the first installment to ship on. All mailings go out weekly on Thursdays, but there are no guarantees as to when your letter will arrive, which I think is part of the fun! The recipient or their parent will receive an email describing a little bit about the process before their first mailing ships. They explain that you don’t need to solve all of the clues to move on to the next part of your mystery. Their FAQ page is very informative about the process and even the contents of each mystery. I am going to keep this review fairly vague, as I don’t want to give away too much about this mystery.
For review purposes, we received one mailing containing all of the letters and boxes that recipients will normally receive at weekly intervals. All of the letters come from the International Headquarters of Information, the reason for this being detailed to us in the letter enclosed in our first envelope. The letter is from a woman who found a mysterious key in her walls along with this curious piece of paper with some sort of code written on the back. The paper is made to look old with watermarks and raw edges and it appears as though someone wrote the letter by hand with ink. This detail made it feel so authentic and real. Even the bag itself felt old. It’d be easy to hype this up even more to a kid!
The letter explained why we were being involved in the mystery, the reason being that my Great- Great- Great- Great- Great- Great Grandfather was thought to be the author of the note found in her wall. I love that they involved us in the story personally from the beginning and established a reason for why we were receiving these notes and artifacts. This was a unique experience from the start. Kids will get a kick out of seeing their names and supposed family members in the story.
The large white envelope we received contained an issue of Shark & Pirate Quarterly with a handwritten post-it note on top. I like that they used all different types of envelopes for each letter. It makes it a little more exciting when you receive them in different shapes and sizes since you don’t know what is in them.
Inside of the magazine were several articles on pirates, sharks and where to find buried treasure. There were also activities such as a crossword puzzle and a section on codes and ciphers. I thought it was full of fun activities and information and it also held clues that were specific to our mystery. Plus, the theme is sharks and pirates- I don’t think you can really go wrong with that!
The next letter we received was from a museum curator who heard about our case and was interested in learning about what information we had uncovered. He asked us to give him a call and leave lots of detail. I called the number and received the voicemail of the museum curator who asked me to leave a very, very detailed message. This was probably my favorite part of the experience: having a voicemail recording set up for kids to call is an extra special touch. Asking kids to give information in detail was also a great way to check for their understanding and hear them describe the situation in their own words. I’m sure they get a lot of interesting voicemails from kids about the mystery! This was just another aspect that made the mystery feel real.
We also received a map and this Top Secret key from the museum curator. Any time you receive an envelope marked Top Secret, I think you’re guaranteed to feel a little excitement, whatever the age. The key was small but ornate. It looked like it was an ancient artifact.
The fourth envelope we received held a letter from the man who sent us our magazine. He encouraged us to hurry up and get started on our treasure hunt. The postscript on the letter was a nice little explanation of how our Great- Great- Great- Great- Great- Great Grandfather got his name. Then there was a mysterious code for us to decipher at the bottom of the page.
Also enclosed with our letter was this news clipping that contained some information about the treasure that we were hunting for. Again, it looked realistic and felt like a real news article.
The fifth envelope contained another letter from the first woman who contacted us. This time she enclosed an actual map, again with holes and watermarks and written on with calligraphy ink. There was also another code for us to decipher on the bottom of the map. The codes were all fairly easy for me to decipher, but they were time-consuming since you had to carefully consult your code guide from the magazine. I think that’s actually better than having some really difficult, unsolvable clue which can get frustrating, especially to kids. We had all that we needed right there in our mailings. I also liked that each envelope had an activity for us to do such as deciphering a code, calling the curator or doing an activity from the magazine.
The little box we received was the last installment. I am trying to maintain some of the mystery of this story for those who would still like to be surprised, but the treasure hunt ended with an airmail letter and a newspaper article informing us of the capture of some important characters from our story. The story itself came to a final conclusion in a manner that made it seem as though the recipient actually had a part in it. I think that’s an important reason why this subscription stands out to me so much and will also appeal to a child.
I didn’t want to ruin the mystery by showing exactly what is inside of this treasure chest, but I can assure you that it is fun stuff that relates to the mystery, feels as authentic as the keys and other artifacts we received and will most likely appeal to any kid who opens it. The items are not from the dollar store – there is no candy or plastic toy, and while it isn’t anything incredible, I thought the items were fitting and a fun end to the Treasure Hunt. The chest itself is a nice quality too and would make a great keepsake if you were to add the child’s name or some other design to it.
Verdict: This Mail Order Mystery experience was very exciting and fun! Receiving mail at various points, each with a little piece of the story unfolding is such a unique experience that I would have enjoyed so much as a kid. The materials they sent were all engaging and felt realistic and authentic to the story. There was a lot of thought put into these mysteries and the little touches such as having a voicemail box set up that we could call made it feel so real. I was pretty awed at all of the details throughout the process and had fun trying to decipher the clues.
The cost of this mystery was $85 ($76 + $9 shipping) and while that is quite expensive, I think the fact that they send the letters out at different intervals and personalize the letters holds a lot of value. For a little over $14 a week, I really think this is a special experience and I think that maybe if you were purchasing it as a family gift or for multiple kids then it is definitely worth the cost since you get a few days worth of activities plus some bonding time, but I’m not sure I could ever justify the cost for just one child.
To Wrap Up:
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