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How to Create a Work Mystery

Updated on May 6, 2014
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing for HubPages for over 5 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.


Bored at Work?

As usual, I am always thinking about new ways to keep myself entertained at work. It is not as if I am not busy. I am busy doing tasks that I've been doing for years, and I need to play some harmless jokes here and there to keep from falling asleep. In this hub, I would like to explore ways to have an "office mystery" at work.

For that matter, you don't even need to work at an office for most of the mysteries to work. As long as you work with other humans, these will work. If you work all day with cats, dogs, or some other critters, some of these suggestions will still work for you! Some of these mysteries do not even involve pranks... they are just simply nice surprises. Wow!

Bring in Food

How easy is this mystery? It is so simple, yet works so well. Just bring in some food to work. All you have to do is buy or make enough food for all your co-workers and simply sit it in the middle of a table in the kitchen area. Then wait for the fun to begin!

Everyone is going to question who brought in the food, but you know what? In the end, no one even cares! One time at my job, someone baked zucchini bread and placed it on the kitchen table. Just about everyone was raving about how good it was. People kept asking who brought it in. We never figured it out, yet everyone ate some of it. For all we know, a disgruntled customer left it for us on the table and spit in it, but no one stopped eating it.

What a simple and fun work mystery! Not only is everyone happy because people love free food, it is also a great converation starter. "Do you know who baked the zucchini bread?" "No, but it is great!" "Have you tried this zucchini bread?" "Yes, it is delicious and a mystery!" The fun never stops with a food mystery.

Check out this list of food I've found the most success with:

  • Cupcakes
  • Bagels
  • Cookies
  • Cake
  • Candy

Keep people wondering all day and keep them well-feed!

Did someone bring in cupcakes?


Give a Gift

One of the greatest mysteries we've ever had at my workplace simply involves a box of candy. Still to this day, we occasionally ponder over it (since that is way more fun than actually working). Last year, the day before Valentine's Day, a box of chocolates showed up on a co-worker's desk. She asked a number of people at the office, but no one fessed up to giving her this gift. After a day, she started to eat it since it was sealed. She was a happy camper, as were some of us that also had a chocolate or two, and a mystery began.

We still never figured out who gave her the chocolate. Was it a secret admirer? Was it a janitor watching her from a distance each day, waiting for her to leave that night? Could it be a co-worker that upset her in some way, apologizing in the least obvious way? Did she mistakenly receive the chocolate that was intended for someone else? Maybe she temporarily lost her mind, gave herself the chocolate, and blocked it out. We will obviously never know! That is what makes it so wonderful.

The next time you want to create a mystery at work, give a simple gift to someone that needs a "pick me up" that day. Then you can watch everyone puzzle over it. Some fun suggestions for this mystery include:

  • Flowers
  • Small stuffed animal
  • Cute socks
  • Gift card you don't want
  • Inexpensive jewelry
  • Random gift from the dollar store
  • Candy
  • Books
  • Puzzles
  • Food that person likes
  • Something funny, like a gnome or pink flamingo
  • And so much more!

Begin Working on a Mystery Project

I sincerely believe at every job there is at least one mystery worker. He is the guy that comes in peacefully everyday, goes straight to his office, and always appears to work diligently. He is polite enough. He may even bring a nice pot roast or cake to the company potluck. But what does he do? No one every seems to know. You can be that guy!

Even if you are not capable of being the mystery worker because everyone sees what you do each day, there is no reason you can't have a mystery project. Collect random supplies from the supply room each day, and smile and nod a lot when people ask what you're doing. Look as if you are crafting something complex at your desk, but never let anyone know exactly what it is. Give incredibly vague answers that sound important. If you really want to up the ante, one day, bring in a coffee machine and tell everyone that is what you've been making. It is fun to confuse your co-workers!


Leave Happy Signs

Along the same lines as leaving a gift on desks, you can leave other happy items instead. One day, my co-worker and I decided to print out happy photos of animals with cute sayings. Then we put one in each person's mailbox. Honestly, we never got much of a reaction from anyone. No one even wondered how the messages got in the mailboxes. They accepted them with gratitude, smiled, and moved on with their life. I would like to think their lives became just a little brighter because of the notes.

You can also clip out cute sayings or photos to leave on co-workers desks. You can find these messages online or cut them out of magazines. Sometimes people need a little something to cheer them up, because after all, they are at work. People tend to enjoy these pleasant little mysteries.

If you want to go a different route, you can put post-it notes on desks that say something positive. Maybe use phrases like, "You can do it!" or "Be the best you you can be!" If you know you are dealing with someone with an unusual sense of humor, you can even write something like, "You always smell nice!" Hey, these are all compliments and who doesn't enjoy getting those? It is always more fun if you remain a mystery. No one can get angry at a random message with a positive message left on a desk.

There are so many ways to create a mystery at work without offending or going over the top. Everyone enjoys something that makes their day a little brighter. If you never admit you are the person that did it, you can just sit back and enjoy the mystery for as long as you can keep a straight face.

Copyright ©2014 Jeannieinabottle


Submit a Comment

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    It is a shame when people don't appreciate someone doing something for them, especially when it is done simply out of kindness. I do believe what goes around comes around though, so I try just to think of it as that person's loss when that type of thing happens.

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    Robert E Smith 3 years ago from Rochester, New York

    Jeannie, that is the way people are. Life is so unsure, today work, tomorrow no work, today friend, tomorrow enemy. I understand the distrust. If I was doing it for anyone other than God (in reality) it would make me very disheartened. But I know that such things as good done, even to an evil-spirited person, will have an effect. I am always listening for someone to say this person has changed. It may be that somehow my praying for her and good deeds done would make a difference over time.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Shesh, it is sad when you try to do good things for others but it is not appreciated. I've worked with people that freak out if you try to help them at all. They are scared I might be better at it than they are and they will be fired. In all honesty, that's probably true. It is a shame how much a person must watch their back at work. Thanks for your comment!

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    Robert E Smith 3 years ago from Rochester, New York

    In an effort to lighten the stressful environment in which I worked, I remember doing other's work and then watching from the sidelines to see them happy that someone did it. I would do it and never let anyone know it was me. I would listen for someone confiding in a co-worker that their back was hurting or something kept them up all night and they were so tired and then I would mop the floor they were supposed to mop or clean up a mess that was assigned to them. It worked well for a long time until I made an enemy because she happened to be an atheist and knew I was a Christian who prayed for all my coworkers. She immediately decided that I needed to be fired and set about to make my life miserable. I reacted by doing work for her that I knew she would probably try to force others to do anyway but were assigned to her. I managed to hide my "good deeds" done for nothing other than to make me able to handle the abuse. (You know, do good to those who despitefully use you.) I was found out by my supervisor who understood what I was doing but I was not to do it again or I would be written up, fined or worse. Oh well... Bob.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thanks so much, Jodah. I am glad you enjoyed my hub.

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

    What great suggestions Jeannie to liven up the workplace and also put a smile on the faces of your workmates. Very interesting ideas. Voted up.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    sheilamyers - The best thing about it is everyone loves free food. No one can even get upset if they can't solve the mystery. :-)

    bravewarrior - We have a baker at our office, so we assume she is the person bringing in the food. That is why the zucchini bread was such a mystery. She said she did not bake it. We never figured that one out!

    B. Leekley - Thanks for the votes. That could be fun just to randomly wrap a person's belongings in wrapping paper. One time, someone used plastic wrap at my office, but that is not nearly as festive as wrapping paper. Thanks for the idea!

    Thanks for the comments, everyone!

  • B. Leekley profile image

    Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

    Up, Useful, and Interesting. Good ideas! Someone I know does work that is heart wrenching. When the team is in the office, they sometimes need a little silliness. That might be a who brought the cupcakes mystery. Or that might involve welcoming a coworkers back from vacation by wrapping everything in their work area as "presents" -- desk, chair, computer, printer, whatever. Or that might be a paper airplane contest. Or ....

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    Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

    I love your ideas, Jeannie. I used to bring baked goods into the office and leave them by the coffee pot when I worked outside the home. I bake from scratch so everyone knew who the gift was from. There's a definite difference between store bought and from-scratch!

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    sheilamyers 3 years ago

    It seems we get mystery food the most. I love your ideas and will have to use some of them.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    heidithorne - The mystery food game is always the best... and the most delicious! Thanks for the votes and for the comment!

    FlourishAnyway - That story is awesome! What a great way to show the boss he is wrong, but with a gift. He technically can't even get mad. The fact that it was also a compliance violation is the icing on the cake. Thanks so much for sharing that!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

    During a layoff, a coworker was that mystery worker. The boss made the mistake of mentioning that he liked a certain "rare" type of whisky that he couldn't find anywhere in the city. My coworker knew she was being let go and wanted to leave an impression on the boss, so she went out and located said bottle of whisky. It somehow showed up on his desk within two hours of his claiming it was so rare. He was shocked, especially being the compliance director (no alcohol allowed on plant property and there it sat -- mysteriously). No one saw who did it, but we had a real strong hunch. And it's not like he was gonna report himself for a compliance violation. Ha! What a mystery! It sent shivers up his spine. That's the kind of stuff I miss in working in an office.

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    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Yep, long time for me, too, since the workplace days and my dogs are just not good at the whole mystery thing at my office. :) But back in the (employment) day, the mystery food game was a favorite. Voted up, funny and awesome!

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Bill, you should have Bev write some notes and plant them all over the place. Sure, it won't be a mystery who did it, but it will be fun to see what interesting sayings she might give you. It is definitely NOT worth going back to work at an office to experience this though. :-) Thanks for the comment!

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    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    There's only one problem, Jeannie: I work by myself. That wouldn't be much of a mystery now would it? :) Great fun. You almost had me wishing I worked in an office. NOT! LOL