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HOW TO HOST A KILLER MURDER MYSTERY PARTY | PART 1


Any excuse to throw a party is a good excuse in our home. We decided to give hosting a Murder Mystery party a go for the first time last year after attending one at a friend’s house and loving the concept. Yes yes I know they’ve been around for ages. In fact, my parents attended one way back when and I remember having no idea what they were on about when they tried explaining who their characters were and what went on at their wacky 70’s themed party.

Our Tropical themed party last year was a major hit! So when a best buddy of ours recently asked us if we would host a Murder Mystery Party for his Birthday we jumped at the chance.

I thought I would use the opportunity to write a little guide that may come in handy for anyone that isn’t sure where to start or what exactly is involved in putting together a Murder Mystery Event. I plan on trying my hand at writing a Murder Mystery Pack sometime soon as it seems really difficult to find unique options online, (freebies seem non-existent). But in the meantime let’s get started on the basics….

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WHAT?

A Murder Mystery Party is generally a themed party, guests are assigned character roles and asked to dress (and act if they’re up for it) in character. At the party one of the guests is ‘murdered’ and based on information that is made available along the way guests are invited to solve the mystery of ‘who dunnit?’. It’s all very silly and even if, like me, you’re a terrible actor it really doesn’t matter.

I’ve come across 2 different types of Murder Mystery Parties, (there may be other varieties out there):

  • Totally Scripted – often a CD/or sound clips will be played to guide you through the mystery; the provided scripts don’t leave much wiggle room for improvisation.
  • Unscripted – provides questions to ask other guests and appropriate answers to anything you may be asked but how you play and how into character you get is generally left up to you.

Again because I’m personally rubbish at acting I prefer the unscripted kind.

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WHY?

Why not?! Any reason is a good reason, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries you name it. These parties are great networking events (for business purposes too if you like) as it’s really in your best interest to loosen up, meet new people and get chatting if you plan on solving the mystery.

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WHERE?

We’ve hosted both of our parties in our apartment as finger-food style events (ie. not a sit down dinner) you can host a party just about anywhere you’d gather for a regular party/dinner/event.

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WHO?

This is a great way to introduce different friend groups to each other but also so much fun when everyone is already well acquainted.

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WHEN?

You don’t have to strictly stick to a dinner party, you could host a mystery event over any meal time really – it’s probably best you do have food on offer though as the actual mystery solving etc is likely to take 2+ hours

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CHOOSING A THEME & FINDING A GAME

There are a few sites that sell Murder Mystery Packs. WARNING: they can be pretty pricey but a lot of work goes into preparing them so it’s understandable. I’ve bought our packs from A Night of Mystery for both of our parties.

Some story lines are more adult than others (think adultery, alcohol references, sexy characters etc), but to be fair ‘Murder’ is a pretty adult theme to begin with so I’m not sure why you’d involve kids if you’re concerned about things being at all risqué.

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THE GUESTLIST

Games generally cater for couples and singles alike so no need to worry about pairing everyone up. You may want to check on the necessary roles required for the game before deciding on your guest list although you may have friends that are up for playing any gender and then it really doesn’t matter. Some games also provide gender-neutral roles which can come in handy.

Don’t feel like you need to alienate your less-wacky friends, the game should work out to be fun for even the most introverted of characters – just keep them in mind and perhaps assign them a less ‘in your face’ role, ie. avoid making them a character that has to give any sort of public presentation. A few odd-bods that are likely to get into the swing of things won’t hurt at all though!

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THE INVITATIONS

It’s a good idea to send out invitations and get your RSVPs in before purchasing a game. Packs are made up to cater for specific numbers of players, so you don’t really want to have bought a pack for 10 guests ahead of time and end up with 15.

Tip: Although games may say, for example ‘8-12’ people, which implies you could do with less than 12 people, I really feel that you’re likely to be missing out on vital parts of the storyline without the maximum number of players a pack is written for. Rather invite an extra person or 2 at the last minute if you need to make up numbers.

If you get the ball rolling early enough and have the time, you could design your own invitations (if you’re crafty) or print them out to deliver – packs often come with pre-made invitations you can customise which is awesome! Last year we emailed everyone their invitations and ‘Welcome packs’, this year the Birthday boy created a private Facebook event which made the RSVPs super quick and easy to keep track of. We only had a week to plan for the party so using Facebook was also really convenient.

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In Part 2 I’ll talk more about the necessary planning and prep work you have to do once you’ve received your RSVPs and before executing a Killer party. (See what I did there?)

Caitlin
About me

Party thrower, world traveler, casual gamer, baker, wine drinker and stationery designer.

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