Scavenger Hunt Idea for a Nancy Drew Detective Birthday Party
February 21, 2024
Nancy Drew party scavenger hunt favor boxes

Scavenger Hunt Idea for a Nancy Drew Detective Birthday Party

Need a good Scavenger hunt idea for your next birthday party? This Nancy Drew party has all the elements any great spy or detective party should have! Check out the clues to create your own scavenger hunt as well as a few more fun party activities.

When guests arrive for the party, let them know that each of them in a SUSPECT. And secretly assign one of them to be the THIEF. They can't let on and need to go through all the clues with everyone else. Make a small red mark on the inside of their non-dominant hand after everyone does their fingerprints. And as the guests collect their clues, have them record the hints in their Evidence Log Books!

NOTE: You will need to identify the “thief” ahead of time to prepare the proper clues.

Fun activities for a Nancy Drew Detective party
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Detective Party Fingerprinting

Nancy Drew detective party backdrop with fingerprint kit

Start with these printable fingerprint cards where each guest will fill out their personal information just like they've been sent to the station “downtown”. The upside is that these can actually be kept as a viable record for the kids when the party's over.

Get your printable fingerprint cards here in the shop.

Fill out Your Personal Info

Nancy Drew finger print party activity

Make sure everyone has a good pen to fill out the personal info on their fingerprint card. These are just for fun so don't worry if they fill them out wrong or use silly answers.

Nancy Drew finger print party activity

Then provide a fingerprint stamp pad – one per pair of guests. They are designed as not to make a mess on fingers but it's a good idea to provide baby wipes or paper towels for the cleaning of fingers afterwards. Guests can make clean oval prints by pressing straight down and coming back up off the paper. OR they can roll their finger from one side to the other to create a wide square. Either one works.

You may want to print an extra(s) just in case someone makes a mistake and wants to start over.

Get the Look:

Detective Party Mug Shots

As the party host you can play up the “arrests” of each guest on arrival by playing the detective, or you can keep it light. We didn't spend any time on interrogations or scare tactics. Besides, there's a party on and who has time to play the heavy!?

Nancy Drew mug shot party activity

But we did take mug shots of each guest. Provide some fun props like trench coats, hats, scarves, and jewelry. The birthday girl got a personalized sign with her birthday details, date, and what time she was born.

Nancy Drew mug shot party activity

Guests got to choose their various charges on the actual party date. It was so fun watching them get into it, especially this little jewelry thief!

Get the Look:

Depending on your party time, this might be a great spot to stop and enjoy your party food. You can see what we served here: Nancy Drew Delicious Detective Party Food Ideas

Nancy Drew Detective Mystery

Nancy Drew party scavenger hunt ideas - favor boxes

When your guests are ready for the scavenger hunt mystery, give them their party favor boxes that also function as a “Detective Tool Kit”. You'll want to place a few key items in the box, sticking to the signature colors of yellow and light blue wherever possible!

Nancy Drew party scavenger hunt tools

*Doesn't have to be an individual item – only really need one for the group*

OPTIONAL: Then add some optional items for a little more detective fun!

Nancy Drew party scavenger hunt idea - favor boxes

Gather up your items and place them in boxes for each guest, simply line it with crinkle paper and add some labels and ribbon to the outside. Labels available in my “Nancy Drew Mystery Scavenger Hunt Party” package in the SHOP.

Nancy Drew party favor boxes with ransom note tags

Then on kraft paper gift tags, using a variety of stickers, spell out the name of each guest to create a “ransom note” style tag.

Get the Look:

Scavenger Hunt Planning Ideas

Now we're FINALLY ready for the main event!

Scavenger hunts can be complicated so I've done a lot of the work for you. I used common areas of my home so the clues can work in your home as well. Simple clues are available as is but I have an editable version in the shop along with all the other Nancy Drew Detective Party printables I used.

Scavenger Hunt Idea – Clue #1

Black question mark balloon for a Nancy Drew Detective party scavenger hunt clue

START with a black question mark balloon that has the first clue. You can get them for gender reveals and the question marks work perfectly for a detective party scavenger hunt!

Place the balloon in a conspicuous place and have the kids pop it with the tools in their box to get the clue inside. You could even create a small balloon garland that they need to pop in order to find the first clue. {I just had one balloon, but in hindsight, that would have been MUCH cooler!}

Scavenger Hunt Idea – Clue #2

Nancy Drew scavenger hunt clue ideas

The first clue has a reference to TIME – so the clue is hidden behind the clock in the party room. It tells them that not all is what it seems and each person takes the wax mustache out of their tool kit as a disguise!

Nancy Drew detective disguises for a birthday party

This disguise can work for good if they're looking for the thief, but if they are the robber and hiding behind a false identity…'s a warning. We're know you're in here somewhere!

This next clue is written in code and must be cracked using the paper wheel decoder in their tool kit. This was such a fun activity that I've added these printable decoders to the shop! Just make sure you give them the key on how to line up the rings. I highlighted “IT” so they would know where to start. Line the “T” on the outer ring with the “I” on the inner ring and then use it to interpret the message.

Nancy Drew scavenger hunt clue ideas - decoder wheel

Make the coded message as long or short as the collective guest attention span allows. It's helpful to have a copy of this particular clue for each guest or guest pair so they can all be in on the action. This lead them to a MIRROR. Make this one difficult by making it a more obscure mirror and letting them search a little.

Scavenger Hunt Idea – Clue #3

Nancy Drew scavenger hunt clue ideas - magnifying glass

The next clue is printed very small and requires the use of the magnifying glasses in their tool kit. It says “Now you're COOKING….” and the next clue is placed in the kitchen oven. {or microwave to make it more challenging}

Scavenger Hunt Idea – Clue #4

This clue is blank at first glance. Guests were told they can solve all clues using their detective tool kit so it'll take a minute for one of them to realize there's a black light to reveal the next message.

It refers to “Keeping your nose clean” and points to the next clue that's hidden inside a shower.

Scavenger Hunt Idea – Clue #5

Nancy Drew scavenger hunt clue ideas - reverse text

To mix things up, this clue is written backwards and must be read using the mirrors in their tool boxes, or in the bathroom, since that's where they'll be. It references “give your head a rest” and clue #6 is under the birthday girl's pillow.

Nancy Drew scavenger hunt clue ideas - under pillow

Scavenger Hunt Idea – Clue #6

Nancy Drew scavenger hunt clue ideas - library book

This clue advises the budding detectives to do it “by the book” and the next clue is hidden in a conspicuous book on a bookshelf or library. {A hidden Nancy Drew mystery story perhaps!?}

Scavenger Hunt Idea – Clue #7

We've found our last clue and this one mentions the thief is “as cold as ice”. Naturally the congratulations note and the “cold, hard cash” + other treasure, are hidden in the freezer inside a money bag! {I chose the garage freezer for a little extra difficulty}

Now have them compare the notes they took and see if the guests caught on to the little hints about who the thief really might be. The biggest clue at the end is that they've been caught “Red-handed” and your thief will literally have a red dot on their hand!

If they don't get it right away, help guide them through the clues. I have it all written out step by step in the Nancy Drew Detective Scavenger Hunt in the SHOP.

Scavenger Hunt Treasure

The stolen “treasure” is pretty easy and depends on what you'd like to do with it. If you want to use it as party favor material add some cute faux pearl necklaces, chocolate coins, and ring pops. If not, you can find pirate gold at the dollar store and mardi gras beads, Monopoly money, and plastic crowns that'll do the trick nicely.

Our specific book, Nancy Drew Mystery #9 – The Sign of the Twisted Candles, has a missing original Last Will & Testament along with many treasured possessions so I stuck a fake will inside and pretended to read that our birthday girl has been given the estate because of her kindness to the old man.

Then you can open gifts and let her discover what her new “estate” is all about!

Get the Look:

Scavenger Hunt Idea and Activities for Detective Party

Nancy Drew scavenger hunt clue card ideas

Now that we've gotten to the bottom of the mystery….how'd you do? Are you ready to host your own detective party? Everything in this party can easily be switched over to Hardy Boys if your family likes that series better. Did you know they even have an updated Hardy Boys book series with cool covers?

But I have to admit, I'm a sucker for the vintage yellow spined Nancy Drew classics!

If you try hosting a scavenger hunt for your budding detectives, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. And if you share photos, I want to see it too! Please tag us @partieswithacause on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. We love celebrating all your hard work! 

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Until next time my friend! Signature and photo


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Gingerbread houses in a row as table runner centerpiece for a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party I’m Bri of Parties With A Cause. I’m a mother to three crazy awesome kids, interior designer, & party planning junky. I love reading, globe trotting, and frozen yogurt. And I’m elevating the party experience one cause at a time! Read More

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