One of the thrills of my childhood was going to the library to check out a new Nancy Drew book. And once my girls started reading Magic Tree House and American Girl Doll mysteries, I realized they were ready for Nancy Drew! They immediately fell in love with the plucky heroine and, of course, my party planning wheels started turning. I threw this party for their 8th birthday and it was a blast!
The extremely talented and very sweet children’s party printable designer Lindi Haws of Love the Day created the printables just for this party. The collection Lindi designed is inspired by the yellow binding of Nancy Drew books plus a punch of gray.
Since I love the Nancy Drew books of the 1950s, I went for a certain amount of patina with this party. My wreath was made to order by Simple Joys Paperie. Lana used pages from an actual Nancy Drew book to make the wreath and added a center art piece from Love the Day.
From my local antique store, I rented a vintage typewriter, rotary phone and a typewriter case to elevate my cake stand.
To designate the favors and detective capes areas, as well as the secret passageway, I used pennants from the Love the Day collection and added my own letters. (See the tutorial here.)
One of my favorite decorative elements is the Nancy Drew portrait that anchored the mantle. This was as simple as having my local copy store blow up the cover of a Nancy Drew book. Around it, I added:
- Vintage Nancy Drew books
- Goodwill clock that I spray painted oil rubbed bronze
- My daughters’ initials made from white wood letters from Michaels and covered in patterned paper from the Love the Day collection
- Large 8, which is actually an old gas station number I found on Etsy
- Fabric strip bunting that I made in shades of yellow and gray. (See the tutorial here.)
Solving the Case
When guests arrived, they found a ransom note left at the door with footprints leading away. My girls and I had so much fun finding the biggest letters we could and cutting up magazines to make the ransom note.
I outfitted each guest in a detective cape made by Cape Adeline.
Detective kits included everything the guests needed to solve our mystery, including flashlights, magnifying glasses and fingerprint kits.
To decorate the area where the detective kits were displayed, I made a Happy Birthday banner from the pages of a Nancy Drew book. (View the tutorial here.)
The girls made me pinkie promise that I was not secretly the thief.
I planted a variety of clues around our party space — each one identified as a clue with a “CLUE” circle from Love the Day.
And then, a mysterious telegram arrived …
When the guests solved the crime, they “called the police” and spontaneously decided to lock our criminal in the bathroom. Fortunately, my nephew’s fiance was a really good sport!
Here they are guarding the favors after the detectives discovered them.
To dress up the folding chairs, I purchased white, standard size pillowcases from Dollar Tree. I slipped a pillowcase over the back of each chair. To each pillowcase, I pinned a yellow tissue fan and added a party circle from Love the Day.
Table were covered with a yellow chevron runner and topped with white milk glass vases. (Single stems in bud vases are a really easy and inexpensive way to present flowers — especially if flower arranging is not your talent.) For a centerpiece, I stacked vintage Nancy Drew books and added a candelabra that I tarnished. The candelabras reminded me of something Nancy Drew would have carried up a dark and creepy staircase. Rusty keys, a magnifying glass, and handcuffs completed the look.
At each place I layered a silver charger with a white napkin and yellow plate. The plates were topped with placecards I made using paper from Love the Day and black grosgrain ribbon.
Our menu included:
- Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes topped with fondant cleverness from Edible Details. Brittany created a Nancy Drew silhouette, footprints and magnifying glasses on a yellow background.
- Question mark cookies from Sweet Goosie Girl.
- Lemon flavored cakepops by CakePops by Jen embellished with spiderwebs because Baby A said, “We HAVE to have spiderwebs, Mommy!”
- Chocolate skeleton keys from The Frosted Petticoat.
- Yellow gumballs from The TomKat Studio.
- Swedish Fish (These are my “red herrings” … I know the kids didn’t get this joke, but it made me happy!)
For the Adults
Since we had adult family members attending the party, and since I wanted to corral them in one area, I added a tiered tray on a coffee table. I lined the tiers with patterned papers from Love the Day’s collection and served:
- Savannah Smiles cookies (Got to support my Brownies!)
- Coconut macaroons
- Yogurt covered pretzels
The table also included the board game Clue to keep them busy, although they were so busy being interviewed by the detectives, I don’t think anyone ever played.
Our cake had to make two birthday girls happy, so we served a three-layer (chocolate, vanilla, chocolate) cake with white buttercream icing. Amy from Scrumdiddlyumptious Bakery piped “subway art” with mystery words on it. For the cake topper, I made a paper pinwheel from the pages of a vintage Nancy Drew book and finished it with one of Love the Day’s party circles.
And here’s the cover of my party plan — I’ve love to share it with you and help you plan your mystery party!
Party styling: Double the Fun Parties
Photography: Viridian Images Photography
Printables: Love the Day
Wreath: Simple Joys Paperie
Detective capes: Cape Adeline Patterns
Antique rentals: Woodstock Antique Market
Yellow burlap table runner: Paula and Erika
Gable boxes, straws, ice cream cups and gumballs: The TomKat Studio
Yellow cake stand: Olivia Dru
Yellow trays: Gleaming Renditions
Cake pop stand: Papa Santones Woodshop
Cupcake toppers: Edible Details
Question mark cookies: Sweet Goosie Girl
Spiderweb cakepops: CakePops by Jen
Chocolate skeleton keys: The Frosted Petticoat