Planning and hosting a Mystery Dinner with menu
Dinner can be Fun!
How to host a Mystery Dinner
Mystery Dinners are probably the most rewarding type of meal that any person can plan. My motto is ‘The more the merrier’, this works well if you are having a lot of people for dinner. Having been the head of an organization for a short time, I wanted to reward my helpers with a fun night out. To this day it is still talked about and referred to as the most fun anyone has ever had at a dinner.
Let me explain what a Mystery Dinner is. It is a dinner that should have no less than 6 people (for the maximum amount of fun). The guests have no idea what they are going to eat, they are presented with a menu from which they have to ‘place’ their orders. A good menu should have no less than 4 courses, 5 is a good round number. It is also fun if you should include in your menu the ordering of utensils. Plates and bowls are a given, you need something to serve the food on.
The menu item will have different name from which the food truly is, such as; Jacob’s Well - which is water. Yes, they must order drinks too!
You must plan your menu, deciding what to have is the most fun. If you are known to be a good cook this makes the anticipation for what you have planned even greater. Ensure that you have enough time to prepare your food, so you can enjoy your company, and watch the expressions on their faces as their ’waiter’ brings them their orders.
You will need to enlist in co-conspirators for your venture, this is something you will not be able to do on your own. Teenagers make great helpers they are quick and light on their feet. Any left over food you have will be devoured by them, so you will have no waste!
If you are having as many as 30 people to your dinner party, I would suggest separating them as they enter. This way your guests get to meet new people and may be prone to having more fun. With 30 people you will need many tables, so having helpers is very important. I would suggest having at least 5 helpers/waiters for 30 people. Each helper will be responsible for 1 table of 6 guests.
As everyone is seated you then explain how the dinner will happen. Each helper will be standing at the head of each table, holding the menu’s. After your explanation your helper will then give each guest a menu with a pencil. Having them put their name on each menu will help the waiter remember what goes to who. They will be allowed to order 5 items each course. As the item is ordered it will be crossed off the list, so it cannot be ordered again. Using plain white paper for your menu is probably the least expensive and best, for these will most likely never be used again.
You will need several ‘master copy’ menu’s placed around the area where the food is to be served. A ‘Master Copy’ is telling your servers exactly what is what on the menu. It helps to avoid any confusion.
The types of food served and names given for each, is limited to your imagination!
Planning - If you are having 5 courses with 5 items in each course, you will need 25 items to go on your menu. Of these items, 5 should be utensils, such as fork, knife, spoon, napkin and toothpick. Each will have it’s own individual name ie; Fork - Divided Branches.
Your drinks will take up at least 3 items, coffee, iced tea and water. Coffee - Rocket Fuel.
You are left with 18 items that should be food items. Not so daunting is it? You can have meat, soup, potato, salad’s and desserts. Not necessarily a full salad, but items such as carrot/celery sticks or raisins. Your menu does not have to have any particular rhyme or reason, since each item will be ordered individually.
If you want to save on the later clean up, using disposable plates and bowls make it a lot easier.
Keep in mind this is meant to be fun, so have fun! Enjoy yourself. If after it’s over and you still have hungry guests (doubtful) by all means offer them more!
If you should like this idea and you like me to e-mail you a copy of my menu, feel free to write, I will get on it right away!
Why not make it a Murder Mystery Dinner?
If you are fairly creative, you might want to include a murder mystery skit into your dinner. Complete with costumes and story line. There are lots of fictional murder stories that can be found for your ‘actors’. If you just can’t seem to think of any good mysteries, go to your local library and check out some Agatha Christy books to get an idea. My personal favorite of hers, ‘Curtain’. This could be written fairly easy into a murder mystery skit, with only a few people who need to rehearse their lines. One never knows, if it’s very successful, you may be asked to perform this for pay.
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