Our Parties: Nancy Drew Mystery 8th Birthday Party

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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!

DFP mystery party books

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.

DFP mystery party invitation

Decorations

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.

DFP mystery party wreath

From my local antique store, I rented a vintage typewriter, rotary phone and a typewriter case to elevate my cake stand.

DFP mystery party antique rentals

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.)

DFP mystery party capes banner

Mantle

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.)

DFP mystery mantle collage

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.

DFP mystery ransom note collage

DFP mystery shoe prints collage

DFP mystery typewriter clue collage

I outfitted each guest in a detective cape made by Cape Adeline.

DFP mystery capes collage

Detective kits included everything the guests needed to solve our mystery, including flashlights, magnifying glasses and fingerprint kits.

DFP mystery party detective kits

DFP mystery party flashlight

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.)

DFP mystery party HB banner

The girls made me pinkie promise that I was not secretly the thief.

DFP mystery party pinkie swear

I planted a variety of clues around our party space — each one identified as a clue with a “CLUE” circle from Love the Day.

DFP mystery clue collage

DFP mystery detectives collage

DFP mystery party fingerprints

And then, a mysterious telegram arrived …

DFP mystery party telegram

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!

DFP mystery thief collage 2

Here they are guarding the favors after the detectives discovered them.

DFP mystery party finding favors

Tablescapes

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.

DFP mystery party tables

DFP mystery chair collage

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.

DFP mystery table collage

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.

DFP mystery table 2 collage

DFP mystery party magnifying glass

Dessert Table

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!)

DFP mystery party dessert table

DFP mystery cake pops collage

DFP mystery party question mark cookies

DFP mystery party sign

DFP mystery candy collage

DFP mystery party bottles

DFP mystery cupcakes collage

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.

DFP mystery coffee table collage

Birthday Cake

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.

DFP mystery party cake

DFP mystery party family

And here’s the cover of my party plan – I’ve love to share it with you and help you plan your mystery party!

DFP_106_Mystery_Party_final_Page_01

You Can Do It! Signature

Vendor Credits

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

Cake: Scrumdiddlyumptious Bakery

Cupcake toppers: Edible Details

Question mark cookies: Sweet Goosie Girl

Spiderweb cakepops: CakePops by Jen

Chocolate skeleton keys: The Frosted Petticoat

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Comments

  1. says

    Jennifer, that is so super cute!!! I love the theme! Great cookies from Goosie Girl and fabulous skeleton keys! I love all of the creative details that you came up with for the party- and that pinky promise picture is adorable! I love it!!

  2. says

    What an amazingly beautiful party! Looks like so much fun! I didn’t realize one could rent antiques; what a great idea. I also love your creative use of pillowcases for chair covers.

    • says

      Thank you so much, Alison! I’m sure not every antique store rents, but we’re lucky in Atlanta that a lot of movies are filmed here. Between that and weddings, several antique stores have begun offering select rentals. Even if your store doesn’t have rentals, individual booth owners are often willing to rent — just ask. :-)

  3. Erin says

    Well done! I am putting together a similar party for my 9 year old this weekend, and needed a few more ideas to get my theme going. I loved seeing what you had done. Mine will all be homespun (no vendors), so sadly, I can’t do those awesome capes (so cool) and such, but there are so many little details in this post that are very do-able. Beautifully done party. I’m sure your daughters will love looking back at it & remember it fondly.

  4. says

    Oh what a darling party theme! You’ve outdone yourself once again, Jennifer! It’s always so fun for us to conspire with you about the chocolate favors and then get to see your vision come to life! :)

  5. says

    I think Hit and Run Holiday was the only one I ever really read. I’m faliry certain Nancy got tied to one of the supports of the pier and was left to drown as the tide comes in. There was also something about green cards, and I was nine and British and had no idea what the book was talking about, and so went back to the Famous Five which had 1. Uncle Quentin being kidnapped/having his scientific discoveries stolen!! and 2. SMUGGLERS. Always smugglers.

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