One of my favorite things about having an 8 year old is how her interests and tastes have begun to influence mine. She’s reading cool classic Nancy Drew books (which I never read as a kid), introducing me to music that I totally love, and her favorite colors inspired a room re-do in our house.
She has also developed a pretty clear vision for what she wants in a party and this year’s vision called for a summery picnic with turquoise and yellow decorations, a mystery to solve, and a picnic-worthy cake (although my husband lobbied her hard for a chocolate one)….a perfect Detective Birthday Party Picnic!
The invitations foretold a “mystery” at the party and the party details were typed in a tiny font, only legible with help from the enclosed magnifying glass. We also included response cards for the guests to mail back with options for them to personalize their picnic. I’m pretty sure the response cards were among her favorite elements of the party. We stalked the mailman for weeks and she pounced on the turquoise envelopes anxious to see who was coming and what they were going to eat.
We gathered Queen Anne’s lace the night before and added them to some Trader Joes flowers to create the flower centerpieces. Balloons, tissue poms, and gingham bunting highlighted the picnicking spot.
We blasted Britt Nicole as the kids hula hooped, sack raced, and had fun with detective Mad Libs.
As soon as it was time for cake, the kids discovered a small metal suitcase with a ransom note and a turquoise hourglass. The cake & all of the plates, utensils, candles, etc. were missing! Suddenly they were transformed into mini sleuths receiving case files, notebooks and mini clipboards.
The hourglass was flipped and the race was on. Would the birthday girl get to blow out her number 8 candle today?
The clues were hidden in balloons, tennis balls, climbing webs, field goals and street signs. They incorporated decoding skills, invisible ink, and homemade scratch tickets. Each sleuth held a tool in their case file that allowed them to help solve a specific clue and solving each clue required a fair amount of teamwork.
An hour later (it took twice as long as expected!), the sweaty yet triumphant detectives returned, with the mystery solved and the cake safely recovered.
After reviving with cake, they relived their sleuthing exploits and had fun trying on secret agent disguise kits from their favor boxes, which also included a hand selected mystery book.
After waking up at the crack of dawn to help make picnic lunches and sprinting around after clues in the hot sun, the birthday girl was pretty spent.
The only mystery remaining was what she’d plan for next year.
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Absolutely a beautiful and fun-filled party. Your creativity astounds me!
Thanks so much, Mary! Your encouraging words were a little gift to my soul this morning.
Marty Walden says
Stunning pictures for a fabulous party! What a lucky kid!
Jill Flory says
This is one of the cutest birthday parties I’ve ever seen! LOVE!
Thanks so much, Jill! And I just adored your post…I’m beginning that crazy adventure for the first time starting next week–your words & honesty encouraged me more than you can imagine!!
That’s a pretty spectacular party. What a lucky girl!! I bet everyone had a blast.
Adorable party! Wish I still had an eight-year-old!!! Vanessa’s Mom
Kim @ Sand & Sisal says
Oh my goodness Julie! This is one of the most beautiful, stunning, and creative parties I’ve seen in ages! I’m dying to know where you got those poufs or if you made them. BRAVO!!!
Thanks so much for your kind words & encouragement, Kim! I found a Martha Stewart Pom kit at Marshalls that happened to be the perfect shades of turquoise for the party. I’ve used her pom kits before and they create such lovely, full poufs…much better than ones that I’ve made on my own.
Claire @ A Little Claireification says
Wow. I have all boys but I DID read all of the Nancy Drew books growing up and this is an AWESOME party idea!! Thanks for sharing this Julie!! Pinning!
Karen Schulz says
I loved Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon mysteries when I was a kid
Maryann @ Domestically Speaking says
How fun… I loved reading Nancy Drew books when I was a kid and now my girls love them too. What a fun party idea!
Amanda @ Dixie Delights says
You did it again! Another absolutely adorable fete!
Michele R says
I love your idea of taking a book and bringing it to life as a birthday party! Absolutely wonderful!
Suzanne of Simply Suzannes at Home says
Suzanne of Simply Suzannes at Home
Oh my heavens! I don’t think your party could have been any more pretty or perfect!
I love themed parties . . . and this one is so beautiful! Great job!
Love your photos too!!
Thanks so much for sharing,
I used to read Nancy Drew too! Great party idea – everyone looks like they had a fun time!
capturing joy with kristen duke says
SO adorable, love the details!!
Absolutely love it!
Caitlin Smith says
Thank you for this post. I LOVE your creative ideas and would like to follow this (with adaptations for my daughter) for her upcoming 11th bday party. I wonder if you could please share the details of the clues/cake hunt? I’m particularly interested in the series of 10 clues and the activity that they did for each one. I can make out a few from your post, but I’d love to know them all!
Thank you so much for your inspiring post. Not being a natural at doing this stuff, but a natural at appreciating it, I’m learning from you and hoping to create a birthday party that my daughter and her friends will remember fondly together!
Hi, Julie! I loved your party and ideas! My daughter just decided she wants a mystery slumber party for her 12th birthday next week, so I’m trying to find tutorials and ideas online (unfortunately I’m not the creative kind…). The kits avaiable for purchase requires mores guests than we’re having, so I think I’ll have to do a mystery by myself. Could you share the details of your clues, so I could try to adapt them? Thanks!
Jen Ross says
Loved everything about this party. My daughter is having a detective party soon and I would love to have some more details on where you printed the invitations and more info. on the clues. Such great ideas!!!
Lovely idea and post !
Could you send me the clues , I would like to use them for my son’party.
hello – great sharing! i love your ideas!! I too would love the details to the clues. as well as the DYI scratch cards, red lenses for the decoder….
Love this! Would you mind sharing the clues?
What a wonderful party! I would love to do something like this for my daughters who are turning 9. Is this a party package I can purchase?
Catherine Koysza says
My daughter loves Nancy Drew and is dying to have a party like this! Did you share the details of the clues and your different tools to use? If you’re sharing them, or if I could purchase them, I’d love to get them to help with our party!
An amazing birthday idea! We are doing a science party this year, but my daughter just got into Nancy Drew, so maybe next year!