Over the past year, I’ve been re-reading the entire original Nancy Drew mysteries collection. I haven’t read them since childhood, and reading them again now has been a treat. They are as fun as I remember, even if a lot of the plot points seem silly now. I especially love how Nancy keeps her cool in even the most desperate situations. I also love the dynamic between Nancy and her friends, and Nancy and her father. (I am, however, finding a lot of the outdated racial language and sexism jarring. I’m capturing some of that as well as the more bizarre circumstances Nancy finds herself in on a Tumblr).
Nancy Drew would make a terrific scavenger hunt theme, since the stories naturally involve searching for clues and objects. Here’s how I’d do it:
1. Set the scene with themed invitations
The always creative Kendra of My Insanity made clever book invitations for her daughter’s Nancy Drew-themed birthday party. These could easily be adapted for a scavenger hunt invite. A magnifying glass motif also serves as a great link between Nancy Drew and scavenger hunts.
2. “Wrap” the hunt in a plotline
Devise a storyline to go along with the scavenger hunt. Perhaps the guests are being considered for membership in an elite Detective’s Club (similar to the one Nancy runs across in The Message in the Hollow Oak), but need to prove their worth before being formally invited. Completing the scavenger hunt will earn them their badges.
3. Create a scavenger hunt list inspired by book titles
Just look through Wikipedia’s list of Nancy Drew titles to create a list full of hunt-worthy items like an old clock, a diary, a locket, a statue, a bridge, a jewel box, a tolling bell, and a mannequin. More difficult items to find might include a leaning chimney, a velvet mask, a scarlet slipper, bagpipes, and a flying saucer (yes, near the end of the original series, Nancy Drew got a little bit sci-fi). For a children’s party, you’ll want to collect the items in advance and hide them around the house.
4. Add bonus clues
We’re big fans of adding additional scavenger items mid-hunt in order to keep things interesting. For this hunt, the additional items could be announced in a few ways: a note accidentally dropped by an intruder (this happens in nearly every Nancy Drew book), a phone call from a mysterious stranger, or perhaps a guest appearance from Nancy’s father or one of her friends.