Hypers! So many of us girls grew up with Nancy Drew, she’s almost like a best friend. If you’re a fan of the famous Girl Sleuth from River Heights, why not host a “Nancy Drew, Girl Detective Party” with your other best friends—chums, we call them—and, have them solve a puzzling mystery—without the help of Ned Nickerson! All you need is a good magnifying glass, a pretty frock, and some mysterious clues to the surprising solution.
You can give the party a Nancy Drew theme, or choose a specific book from the series, such as Secret of the Old Clock or The Witch Tree Symbol, and use that as a basis for your party—everything from the clues and clothing to the snacks and sleuthing supplies.
Make Top Secret Dossiers by folding a 6-inch by 9-inch manila envelope in half and writing the party details inside the fold. Decorate the envelope, inside and out, with stickers or stamp imprints featuring magnifying glasses, flashlights, puzzle pieces, and so on. Add clues to the inside pocket of the folder, then seal the envelope and mail to sleuths, with “Top Secret: For Your Eyes Only” written on the outside. Include a mini-magnifying glass, skeleton key, or tiny flashlight inside the pocket for added mystery. Or buy Nancy Drew stationary to use as invitations (chroniclebooks.com.)
River Heights Style
Ask the sleuths to come dressed as Nancy Drew during any period of her adventures, from the 1930s to the present. If they need ideas, suggest a trench coat, cloche hat, thick heels, flowery frocks, or even a disguise. For those who dare, go for Nancy’s titian (red) hair, using a wig or spray-on color! Don’t forget the sleuthing accessories—a flashlight, magnifying glass, compass, skeleton key, binoculars, and so on.
Stage the Crime Scene
Choose an era and decorate to suit. Nancy’s favorite color is blue, so be sure to have blue balloons, paper products, and other blue decorations. Put together a detective kit with all the necessary tools listed below. Type up quotes from the books and print them out to make signs for the walls. Set out Nancy drew books around the room. If you can find an old trunk, use it to hide supplies. Check the thrift shop for Nancy Drew style fashions and hang them up around the room. If you’re using a particular book, such as The Secret in the Old Clock, set out an old clock and other objects mentioned in the story. Create a Nancy Drew Detective Kit and display it.
Super Sleuth Kit
Flashlight (to see in dark passageways when the lights go out.)
Magnifying glass (to study mysterious footprints of nefarious characters.)
Compass (to find your way out of the labyrinthine tunnels.)
Fingerprint powder (or face powder) and clear tape (to lift suspicious fingerprints.)
Notebook and pencil (to jot down important clues.)
First aid kit (in case someone is bitten by a poisonous snake.)
Pocket knife (to cut through rope bonds.)
Small tool set (to free yourself from inside a locked trunk.)
Change of clothes (in case you get your outfit dirty or need a disguise.)
Morse Code Decoder (in case you have to tap out a secret message to your chums.)
Lipstick (to write SOS in case you’re kidnapped.)
Girl Sleuth Games and Activities
Write up clues, Nancy Drew style, and have the group solve a mystery. For example, you might hide the party favors, then write clues to their location. Your first clue could be, “Where would Nancy Drew look for a handwriting clue?” (in the notebook lying on the party table!). Give each sleuth a different accessory—a flashlight (to be used to search in a dark closet), a magnifying glass (for read a clue written in fine print), a compass (to indicate a certain direction to find a clue), and so on. When they reach the “scene of the crime,” there lies the body, er, favors!
Pick up a copy of my book, The Official Nancy Drew Handbook, (Quirk Books) for tips on how to be a girl sleuth like Nancy Drew. Teach the rest of the detectives the skills explained in the book, such as, “How to use lipstick to write SOS backwards when you’re bound and gagged,” “How to life suspicious fingerprints with face powder,” “How to pack the perfect handbag for all contingencies,” and “How to disguise yourself and go undercover to follow criminals or your cheating boyfriend.”
Quiz the guests with questions about Nancy Drew’s many adventures, such as “Who was Nancy’s First Best Friend?” (Helen Corning), “What’s the name of Nancy’s first mystery?” (Secret of the Old Clock), and who really wrote the Nancy Drew books? (Mildred Wirt Benson, then Harriet Stratemeyer.)
“Nancy Drew at the Movies”
Rent or buy some Nancy Drew videos, like the originals featuring Bonita Granville, the TV series with Pamela Sue Martin, or the current one with Emma Roberts, and watch the shows together while munching on Hannah Gruen’s refreshments.
Offer foods mentioned in Nancy Drew stories and give them mysterious names, such as Lilac Lane Lemon Bars, Crumbling Wall Chocolate Cake, Broken Locket Blondies, Fire Dragon Fruit Cup, Ivory Charm Chocolate Sundaes, Hidden Staircase Strawberry Shortcake, and so on. You can find recipes for Nancy Drew’s favorite foods in The Nancy Drew Cookbook. (Just be sure it hasn’t been drugged by a suspicious villain!) Make a batch of taffy and have an old-fashioned taffy pull with your sleuth friends. Have a bakery decorate a chocolate cake with a copy of a Nancy Drew book cover on top.
Sleuthing Favors, Prizes, and Gifts
Any of the sleuthing items mentioned in the list above would be great, plus a Nancy Drew Tote Bag or T-shirt (www.cafepress.com), a copy of a Nancy Drew book, books about Nancy Drew, and The Official Nancy Drew Handbook.