Mall Shopping Party

Mall/Nancy Drew -8yr- Clipboard of Clues




Dolly in Gilmer, TX, USA


February 2008


Runner Up

For my niece's 8th birthday party, she requested a mall party.  I knew that she enjoyed the Nancy Drew - Get a Clue" movie that came out the year before   Hypers!  Tara is having a birthday party and inviting all of her best chums.  So Get a Clue like Nancy Drew and get ready for some sleuthing too.  Instead of gifts bring $5.00 to use along with a few clues to crack the case of the Shopping Mall Fiasco and find the perfect gift for Tara.  Don't be late if you want to crack the case!  I included the date time place to meet at the mall and RSVP at the bottom of the invitation. 

Two weeks before the party I had my sister take my niece to the mall and I had her pick out presents for under $20 that she might like to receive from different stores.  They took pictures of the gifts to help remind us where they were in each store and what they looked like for when we came up with clues for the party.  The clues all revolved around gifts that Tara would like to receive as presents.  As you saw in the invitation I told the girls to bring $5 instead of a gift because a big part of the party was sending them on a hunt using clues to help them find the perfect gift for the birthday girl.  The nice thing about this is that in past years my niece would receive too many gifts some that she did not necessarily like.  With this party she would get a few gifts that she was sure to love. 

Decorations: Most malls have small booths in the main thoroughfare that they rent out on a monthly basis and generally have one or two empty at most times of the year other than close to Christmas.  Call your mall office and see if you can rent a booth for a couple of hours for the party.  Our mall has cute wooden carts that look great decorated with fun streamers and balloons in the yellow and purple color scheme from the clipart of Nancy Drew.  In addition they are small so you don't have to spend a lot on decorations.  If there isn't a cart you could decorate a table in the food court or if your mall doesn't have a food court use baskets with balloons on them around a fountain or sitting area.  You can put drinks gifts and food in the baskets as well and this will help you carry them from your car to the party location in the mall. 

Food: We kept this simple so that we wouldn't have to worry about cutting a cake and carrying plates forks and cups around the mall.  We purchased white cupcakes with multi-colored sprinkles on them and kool-aid drinks that were individually packaged in bottles (you could buy any drink that comes in a bottle including water).  We cut out the clipart of Nancy Drew into circles and attached them to toothpicks which we inserted into the cupcakes.  (If you would prefer a cake you could always make one in the shape of a question mark to go along with the mystery theme.  You can find an example of this cake at Familyfun.com.)  I also used the same clipart and made sleeves for the drink bottles.  On one side of the picture I put Bottled in Early TX.  Great friends one fun case a few clues a little sleuthing cracked the case some cake a few fun pics and a great time had by all for Tara's 8th Birthday! February 23 2008  On the opposite side of the bottle I had Bottled for Tara's 8th Birthday.  Along with her statistics like: born hometown school and favorites.  These turned out really cute and the girls enjoyed finding out about Tara's favorite things like rabbits bottle feeding sheep shopping cheerleading webkinz and family.

If cupcakes and drinks aren't enough and you want food to go along with this stay in the Nancy Drew theme from the movie.  Cut up an array of bright vegetables (red orange and yellow bell peppers carrots celery cucumbers etc.) and serve with a ranch dressing.  Nancy likes tea sandwiches like small cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches (or whatever sandwich the birthday girl likes) cut into dainty shapes (try a flower cookie cutter!).  Also a fruit tray with melon balls and assorted fruit would be a great addition.  Of course Hannah (Nancy's housekeeper) always makes the most delicious treats including lemon bars and blondies these would all be wonderful additions! 

Costumes: We didn't dress up for the party but you could have them dress up like Nancy Drew.  In the movie she wore plaid and retro outfits.  You could also have them wear all black to go with the mystery theme and it would make it easy to spot each group in the mall. 

Activities: Once all of the girls arrived we divided them into groups of 5 girls or less with an adult.  Each group received a clipboard with clues a pen to write with gift bags tissue paper and a purse with the money from the $5 that each girl brought.  The first thing the girls read on the clipboard said   Be just like Nancy Drew and become a detective as you solve your very first mystery the Mystery of the Mall Fiasco.  Two days before Tara's birthday we went to the mall to find gifts for the birthday girl.  She gave us clues to help us pick out a few things she might like but we couldn't figure out what she wanted and the day was one big fiasco.  Whom could we get to help us? Only one solution came to mind get Tara's best friends to investigate and find the perfect gift for Tara. 

Read all of the rules for sleuthing at the Mall then decipher each clue to help you find a gift for the birthday girl.  Once you have figured out the clues for all of the different gifts use your team's money to buy Tara a gift or two from your team. You have one hour to figure out the mystery of Tara's gift. At 3:00 p.m. meet at the fountain for some food and fun group pics.  Next we had a sheet that listed all of the mall rules:  1. Stay with your adult leader.  2. Stay with your group. For example the entire group including your leader goes to the bathroom or into a store together.  3. No running. This is not a race. Take your time and have fun. The groups will meet at the fountain at 3:00 p.m.  4. Make sure to bring all items receipts and left over money with you.  5. If you knock something off the shelf rack etc. then you must put it back up.  6. Use only money in your team's wallet NO personal money.  7. Only one team in any given store at one time.   8. Be aware and respectful of others around you.  9. Write down the name of the clue once you figure it out and what it costs of the back of the clue sheet  Some of the clues included:    1. If you can't read something forward use a looking glass to read it when it's backwards.  Hint: if you don't have a looking glass you might find one in the restroom at a perfume counter or in a dressing room. 

Then using Microsoft Word we used the mirror image (this prints the words backwards so that you have to read the clue using a mirror) to type the store and gift to find in the store example: Find the pink flip-flops with monkeys in JCPenney's  2. If you go to the store that sounds like Santa's sleigh (the answer is Bealls) and sample the perfume you will get a card to decipher this clue for your next gift. Once each girl tried a perfume the adult leader of their group gave them a sheet that had the deciphering code.  We used the upper case fonts called wingdings in Word to come up with a code.  Then we typed (using wingdings) what Tara wanted in that store.  Under each letter we left a blank so they would have room to decipher the code.  3. Go to the store named after a girl and find a gift that (the answer is Claire's)   4. Rub a dub go get something for the tub(the answer is Bath & Body Works)  Tara likes XYZ  Once the girls figured out all of their clues and what each gift cost they voted to determine which gifts they would buy.  We had clues for more gifts than they could buy so that the birthday girl wouldn't know which gifts she would receive.  It was fun to see which gifts the girls picked to buy for her. 

Make sure that you have the birthday girl pick out enough gifts so that each team has 3-5 clues and every team has a different set of clues.  You don't want teams buying the same gift.  Since the girls were shopping for gifts for the birthday girl we had a task for her to work on while they were shopping.  Her sheet said that Producers for the movie Nancy Drew were responsible for coming up with the location for each scene. 

You are the producer for this party and it is your responsibility to use the attached clues to come up with great locations around the mall for shots/pictures that we can take of the entire group.  Her clues helped her find shots for the group including: find the largest thing in the mall you can find to take a picture with find a cut-out or movie poster to take a picture with find a carousel or something that requires a token or coin to ride find the best decorated store window to take a picture in front of find the funniest sign you can find with a security guard etc.  I recommend only giving clues for things to do in the main thoroughfare. 

You don't want to take a large group into a store and have them try on hats sunglasses or clothes in case something is ruined broken or not returned to its shelf/rack properly.  We got a lot of great group pics!  Our birthday girl had the whole group on a carousel around/on an alligator with the Chick-Fil-A Cow with a cutout of an army soldier with a tree in front of a country and western store window on a bench walking around a fountain etc.  Also her dad took her around the mall and he enjoyed spending time with her. 

After the presents had been purchased and wrapped we all got back together as a group opened birthday presents ate cupcakes and enjoyed a drink.  Next the birthday girl took the entire group around the mall so that they could take pictures as a group.  We took serious poses and funny poses at each location.  Our party lasted two hours and it worked out perfectly.  One hour for figuring out clues and buying presents 30 minutes for opening gifts and eating and 30 minutes for taking pictures.   

Favors: As the girls left our birthday girl handed out gifts in thanks for celebrating her party.  We kept with the purple/yellow theme and had purple gift bags with ribbon and tags that we cut out using a Cricut Cutting Machine.  On each gift tag was the picture of Nancy Drew and the girl's name.  In the gift bag was a candy bar with a wrapper we made using a cute font that read Great sleuthing!  Thanks for making it a happy birthday party.  I'm glad you are my chum. Tara  (chum is a word that Nancy Drew uses for friend.)

 We also had Hershey's kisses with stickers on the bottom that read Tara's 8th Birthday Party.  You can find sheets of small round stickers at most office supply stores that most people use to price items for garage sells.  You can set up things to type on each sticker in Word and run it through your printer.  We also found Nancy Drew books online for $3.99 to put in the gift bags.  They are called notebooks and are smaller/shorter/less expensive versions of the original Nancy Drew books.  Another idea for favors would be to put together a Nancy Drew kit to help them solve future mysteries.  Nancy always has a magnifying glass flashlight pencil/pen small notebook compass and black eye shadow brush and tape for getting fingerprints.   The girls had so much fun at the party.  One girl asked if I would help her mom plan her next party and another mom wanted to pay to me to plan her daughter's birthday party.      "

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