Detective Party: Case of the Missing Cake

I was unaware of my passion for themed parties until I had my first child. Her first two birthdays were your run of the mill easy parties sans full-fledged theme. By her third birthday, I started making my own invitations and more intricate cakes. Each subsequent year, I seemed to take it up a notch to coincide with her increased ability to participate in party activities. I was completely pumped about planning this detective party.

I’m jumping out of order a bit posting this 10th birthday Detective Party, but to put it simply; I really enjoyed the planning and easier preparation with this one. When I say easier preparation, I’m speaking of physical or crafting labor. Much of the work was in creating the plan and creating documents in Microsoft Word. I can be honest enough to say I really took some pride in the development of the mystery details and case files. To kick things off, let’s start with the invitations.


I went over to my fav spot, Michaels and got a pack of inexpensive brown cardstock cards and envelopes. I then cut the card to the shape of a manila folder and wrote “Top Secret” on the front with red marker. The envelope followed suite with “Urgent” attention addressed to the invited detective (friend). Completely easy, am I right?!

For the inside, I took a picture of the birthday girl with a Snapchat filter for added fun and printed them on plain paper. The details of the party were drafted in Microsoft Word and printed on plain computer paper before being cut to size. In order to fill a 2-hour party span, I included a detective training camp.

Detective party cakes


For the main party area, I kept decorations simple with crime scene tape, silly nose glasses, mini magnifying glasses, and bowler hats I borrowed from my parents’ hat collection. My parents tend to be an excellent source of all randomly necessary items, which I’m continuously thankful for when I come up with an idea.


Since this was an activity focused party, I went simple with the snacks. Donuts (cause duh, Detectives), peanuts (no allergies to worry about), pretzel rods covered in chocolate to look like pencils and hot chocolate in cute toss away coffee cups. I got the coffee cups for the best price I could find at Walmart. The last edible would obviously be the cake.

Detective party snacks


For Detective training camp, I had 5 different activities, which ended up being a tad ambition with the time frame. I’d recommended scaling back on the word puzzle side. My husband tends to think I’m a bit crazy and create too lofty expectations with things like this. He may be right but what fun are low expectations?

Word Puzzles to hone those deductive reasoning skills
Sensory skills training: The Test? Determine the type of candy
Lazer path to develop refined agility
Detective party shooting practice
Target shooting (again super easy and done on posterboard)
Detective party criminal pic
Lastly, developing mug shot camera skills. This ‘placard’ was drafted in Word and printed on regular paper before gluing it onto a piece of cardboard.

Private Detective Badge

Detective party detective badge

As parents RSVP’d, I asked them to send me a picture of the child, which I used to create a Detective Badge. I created a badge for each child with his/her picture and name, because a detective party wouldn’t be much with the detectives. As they finished their detective training, I symbolized “passing” by giving them their badge.

Time to Solve the Case

Here’s where my mental fortitude was really tested by the detail of ensuring all the pieces would come together into a workable mystery. The mystery to be solved was who took Faith’s birthday cake and finding where it had been hidden. I crafted files for each of our family members to serve as suspects. I gave the file collection to each detective group (there were three groups). Each group received a file and their detective tool kits; an invisible pen with a light on it (thanks Amazon), a regular pen, their paperwork, and a ruler.

Detective party suspect files
Detective party suspect file information
I took everyone’s fingerprints with ink and made copies to have in each file. I wrote down a few facts for each suspect to include a microscopic image of their clothing and a foot outline.
On the top of the file, I included a brief write up of the mission, some questions they could ask the suspects and space to write to whom each clue pointed.

Detective Party: The Clues

Detective party clue 1
A powdered footprint made by cutting out the inside of the foot outline, then using a shifter to ‘rain’ the powdered sugar into the opening. There were two different sizes, so it wouldn’t immediately start to point to one person.
Detective party clue 2
A fingerprint from two suspects found on the kitchen counter.
Detective party clue 3
Slides of clothing fibers to look at with the microscope. I had to scour the internet to find images to match the slides we had on hand. I used those images for the suspect files.
Detective party cake 4
A secret coded message to help the detectives on the way to finding clue 5 and solving the case.
Detective Party clue 5
An invisible clue as to where the cake was hidden.
Here’s where those invisible pen lights came into play

Detectives hard on the case

The Missing Cake

In the end, one group found the cake ahead of the rest. That was the only competitive aspect of the party. The kids were then ready to sit down to eat a slice of the found cake.

Detective Party briefcase cake
This cake was much easier than last year’s pirate ship cake and for that, I was thankful.

In the end, the party seemed to be a real hit. The girls were invested in every part of the activities, which is never guaranteed when overplanning. There were requests to be able to take my suspect files home because they enjoyed them so much. I hope you enjoyed the run through and collected some ideas for your own Detective party.

If you’re looking for some other ideas, check out this Treasure Hunt Party.

More fun with frames

As I was rooting through some of the remaining boxes of stuff from our old house, I came across a few items that inspired me to do a little crafting. I found childhood frames in need of a facelift to get with the times and my current decor. It was a very simple project aside from deciding what I was going to do and it’s definitely a project anyone could handle. I hope my makeovers inspire you to have a little fun with some of your own frames and you can decide on a direction to take! From drab to fab frames in no time flat.

My supplies included:

  • Craft Paint and/or Spray paint
  • Paintbrushes (a wider one for the frame and a thin one for details)
  • Sandpaper (depending on the look you are going for)
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Glue or double-sided tape
  • Razor or scissors or paper cutter
  • That’s it!
The Before: classic 80’s/90’s gold opening border mat and a stained oak frame.

To keep the glass clean of paint, you should definitely start off by taking the glass out and painting everything separately. I painted the frame with inexpensive craft paint from Michaels. There’s a Michaels 1.3 miles away from me, so I tend to get everything I need there.

I painted a full coat, so I couldn’t see any of the wood underneath. Then since I was going for a shabby chic look, I took a piece of sandpaper and lightly rubbed randomly around some edges.

I took the mat out to paint it with cheap chalkboard paint from Michaels. It didn’t seem necessary to better paint since it wasn’t going to be used for writing. I used wax paper to paint on to save my kitchen counters.

Accents make the mat

After the paint dried, I used a thin brush to paint some white accents around the photo openings. Feel free to let your creativity come out here! When everything was dry, I put it all back together so it was ready for some pictures of loved ones. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

A close up of some of the sanded parts.

A refinished frame in half an hour (or so)

Frame 2


For my second frame, I took the same concept with the frame. I painted it with a coat of paint and sanded it in a few areas. Instead of painting the mat, I tore vintage 12 x 12 scrapbook paper into pieces and glued the pieces onto the mat. I didn’t worry about cutting the paper around the ovals while gluing. After the glue was dry, I flipped it over so the back was faceup. I used a razor to cut the paper overhang around the oval and voila, another finished frame refresh.

After (aka Drab to Fab Frame )

The last frame I redid was a metal gold frame. I took the glass out of each frame and sprayed a few layers of rose spray paint. For those who haven’t had much experience with a spray can, it’s best to do multiple thin layers rather than soaking it with a thick layer that is likely to drip.

Frame 3

I had printed 4×6 photos which ended up being too small for the openings. Probably a good idea to measure before you print, but as it turns out, I liked the end look better than if the picture filled the frame. I decided to make due by taping the photos to a white cardstock paper and adding a border from scrapbook paper.

I used my paper cutter to ensure I cut straight lines. There’s a range of paper cutters you can get. Mine, in particular, was pretty inexpensive and is two-sided for different types of blades. If you should not happen to have a paper cutter, a ruler to draw a straight line and scissors will do just fine.

I used the sliding blade to cut the scrapbook paper for the border.

I used double-sided tape to adhere the photo and paper to the white back paper.

The double-sided tape dispenser is shown here. I, unfortunately, found it difficult to use.

I happened upon some paper flowers at, you guessed it, Michaels, that felt like the perfect touch to add to this frameset.

Drab to fab frame

Final Product with my three girls to showcase it! I did a quick photoshoot in my bedroom with the girls to get this together.

That’s a wrap on these quick and easy revamps to take them from drab to fab frames. If you are anything like me, you likely already have all the materials. While you’re watching your favorite show tonight, go ahead and let your creativity out.

And if you’re looking for more ideas on how to use those frames, check out Framed Earring Holder

DIY Framed Earring Holder to Organize your Jewelry in Style

This blog was founded on the belief that you don’t have to spend a fortune in order to have beautiful things. I am a doer of ‘all things’ and have a passion for trying new things. I am learning some things as I go and sharing my experience with you. My mission is to show you that if I can do these things, SO CAN YOU! I’m starting things off with an easy DIY project, a Framed Earring Holder. Very few steps and a functional result. If you have earrings jumbled up in a jewelry box, find a frame to make into an earring holder along with me. No special skills required.


  • Empty Frame
  • Hot glue gun & glue
  • Aluminum screen
  • Ruler/tape measure
  • Good pair of scissors
  • Spray paint or paint of your choosing

Option 2 with a chalkboard: Add

  • 1/4 in plywood
  • staple gun
  • staples
  • chalkboard paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Skinny Sticks
  • whatever saw you have available to cut the plywood

Years ago, I made a smaller earring holder, but my earring collection had overgrown that one. It was definitely time to get a make a new one! On a day my kids were out with my parents, I followed a random thought and ventured to Second Chance in Baltimore City. For those in the area, it’s a neat place to find tons of random stuff; from statues and sinks to frames and doorknobs. It’s definitely worth a trip if you’re in the market for second-hand items at reduced prices. I found a few frames and toy chest to redo for just the right project.

I had to fix a chip in the frame I was using, so I used a bit of wood filler to fill the hole. (bottom left) I’m guessing you won’t need to do the same, so skip on ahead. After fixing the chip, I spray painted it with a dusty rose color.

Screen time

Start by measuring the inside lip of the frame (i.e. the widest and longest part of the opening when looking at the back of the frame). This is the size of the aluminum you need to cut with your good scissors.

Question is; what do you do with all the extra?……My Answer; store it in the garage with all the other extra materials….(and drive your husband crazy).

Since the aluminum screen already has a built-in square, you can use the vertical and horizontal lines to cut a straight line. Next up, heating up that glue gun with extra glue sticks at the ready. I’m constantly amazed at how quickly I can go through a stick.

FYI: my nails don’t normally look so nice. I was giving powder dip nails a try. I’d recommend them as a long-lasting manicure. That nail dip lasted 4 weeks for me and only needed to be redone because of the amount of regrowth at the bottom. I was completely impressed with it. If you want to learn more, check out this quick video on pros and cons.
You need to make sure to pull the screen tight while you are gluing or stapling. A sagging screen is not preferable for hanging earrings.

Final Product

That’s all I had to do to finish this frame. Time to put your earrings in and hang on the wall. Voila!

Frame Earring Holder and Chalkboard

Option 2 (and a half):

The first step for this option was to cut a piece of wood for half the opening. I cut a piece of 1/4 inch plywood to half the size of the opening, then painted it with a couple of coats of black chalkboard paint. I cut the screen to the size of half the frame with a bit of overhang to attach to the plywood.

Option 2 to attaching the screen is buying some skinny sticks (thanks for the find Walmart Skinny sticks) and stapling them. I really liked this method better than the glue. They fit perfectly within the inside of the lip and it was easier to attach then trying to hold the screen taught while hot glue dried. Can you say “small burns”?
Look how nice and tidy the staples and skinny sticks are here!

Frame becomes earring holder.

How easy was that?!

And that’s all she wrote. Two quick and easy projects to help you organize your earring collections. I hope the instructions were sufficient, easy to follow and that you end up with a great product. There’s never time like the present, so get started on your project today. If you’ve got more frames you’re hoping to give a new look, hop on over to for some inspiration. Happy DIYing!!

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