One of my favorite parties to go to & to host are murder mysteries!
They are a blast & for some reason I always end up wanting to be Colonel Mustard from the movie Clue.
(If you haven’t seen…WHAT? You can find it on Amazon Instant Steam. I’ll wait here while you watch it.)
The first time I hosted my own murder mystery party it was a fail. I’m not ashamed anymore to admit it. Because it made me learn, very quickly, what to do & what not to do.
So to help you plan a spectacular murder mystery party without hiring a company, I’ve broken it down for you in 8 steps.
Step 1: Figure Out Your Guests
DON’T SKIP this part. I don’t mean your guest list. Well, in a way I do.
By guest lists I mean figure out what type of people your guests are.
Are they wild & fun? Maybe they’re more reserved & professional. Or are they laid back?
Also plan out how many people to invite. Most murder mysteries work better with 8 or more people.
Step 2: Murder Mystery Themes
Once you figure out what type of people your guest list is made up of, you can figure out a theme that best suits them.
Here’s a list of 14 murder mystery theme ideas.
- Haunted Mansion
- Museum Heist
- Wild Wild West
- Till Death Do Us Part
- Casino Night
- Mardi Gras Murder
- Pirate Plunge
- Knight Of Murder
- Totally 80’s
- Set Sail
- All Aboard
- Roaring 20’s
- Santa Maybe
- Masquerade Ball
Step 3: Choose A Party Venue
Your next step is to choose a venue. You can absolutely host this party at your house. But keep in mind that murder mysteries need space to move about for clues & mingling.
Other venue ideas are:
- A hotel banquet room
- A historic home
- A park
- A bed & breakfast
- A restaurant
- A recreation center
- A boat
Step 4: Role Play
Now that you have your guest list, theme, & venue it’s time to figure out the roles.
Sit down & figure out which guest will be who. Doing so in advance will also allow your guests to work on their characters before hand.
Step 5: Invitations
It’s time to send out your invites. Within your invites you need to include:
- Who their character will be
- Costume suggestions
- Whether or not they need to be in character as soon as they enter the venue.
- RSVP date. (They must RSVP so that you know the characters to expect.)
- Character clue cards that tell your guests key characteristics of their character. Along with directions on what information they can & can’t share with other guests.
Step 6: Decorations
You’re getting closer to party time. Now’s the time to think about how you’ll decorate.
Keep in mind that your guests will be spending most of their time looking for clues & mingling with other guests so there doesn’t need to be decoration overload.
But there does need to be some decoration in order to bring the theme to life.
If your theme is haunted mansion then add some spider webs & old phones or lanterns to the main area. Along with dim lighting.
Step 7: Deciding A Menu
The menu for a murder mystery party can be done 1 of 2 ways.
Option 1: Have a formal sit down dinner & dessert. If you choose this route, then the murder & the solving will take place between meals.
Option 2: Serve a variety of appetizers. Allowing your guests to eat at their leisure.
Either way you need to keep in mind that murder mysteries are all about mixing & mingling to figure out whodunit so you’re food choices should accommodate that.
Tip: Avoid serving foods that will cause guests talking to each other to be uncomfortable. You don’t want them turned off by onion breath.
Step 8: Planning The Mystery
Your final step is to plan your murder mystery.
Most murder mystery parties happen in 3-4 rounds.
The first round is all about the guests mixing & mingling & getting to know the other characters.
The second round is the murder. There are some options as to how you can organize this round.
Option 1: Bring in an outside person to be the victim.
Option 2: Surprise your guests by selecting one of them to be the victim. After the “murder” they will still be in the game they’ll just be the ghost of their former self.
For this option, you will pull the guest aside & give them a victim card to look over so that they’ll know how to act & what they can & can not say.
Round three is all about the investigation. Guests will essentially become detectives & race to figure out whodunit.
Be sure to have notepads & pens available so that guests can write stuff down.
For added fun you can have clues or forensic evidence hidden around the venue.
Round 4 is the final round & it’s the accusation round.
Before this round begins give the culprit a you did it & why card. Giving them the card now allows them to still play the game along with everyone else.
Or, you can give them the card in the beginning along with clues that they can use to hint or throw off the other guests that they did it.
Guests will accuse the suspects that they believe did it.
The host can then let the culprit reveal themselves & their accomplices (if any).
How To Wrap Up The Murder Mystery
That’s the end of the game. You can end it there or you can give out awards for the night.
Since there may be several people who guess the right culprit you can do winner awards or you can avoided them with superlatives.
Here are some examples:
- Best Costume
- Funniest Persona
- Super Sleuth
- Most Likely Not To Act Again
- Slimy Suspect
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