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How To Plan An Awesome Murder Mystery Party

Updated on May 15, 2016

Why Host A Murder Mystery Party At Your Home?

Hosting a murder mystery party is a creative, fun way to host a party at your home. The murder mystery party (MMP) is basically a grown up, role-playing version of the board game Clue. You and your friends come together for a night where you will play the role of a suspect in a murder, while trying to figure out who actually committed the crime. These parties will typically be the result of a boxed or downloadable murder mystery kit. They range in the number of players; typically starting at six guests and go all the way up to over twenty guests. If you are considering planning a murder mystery party, here are some easy steps to take.

Which Friends Will Fully Participate?

Guests who attended the Angels And Demons murder mystery party.
Guests who attended the Angels And Demons murder mystery party.

Create Your Guest List

First, you need to decide how many people you would like to have participate at your party. When planning a MMP, size does matter! If this is your first party, you may want to consider starting with a smaller crowd, ideally eight guests. The larger the guest list, the more complex the game and script can be. Work your way up to the larger party, but for now start small. Also, if this is the first time many of your guests will be doing an interactive MMP, you may want to choose guests who have familiarity with one another. Doing a role playing game can push people outside of their comfort zone. Therefore, the more comfortable everyone is with one another, the more fun will be had.

If you decide to go with a larger group, it might be harder to choose people who are all familiar with each other. In this case, make sure everyone is at least comfortable with the concept of participating in a role playing game. In order for a MMP to work, everyone has to be active participants. Someone who thinks the parties are ridiculous should not be invited as they may mock the process and ruin it for everyone else. Think of yourself as a recruiter of sorts and it is your job to recruit the best people for the event. Make a list of potential guests, including some additional people than your intended party size. This allows for you not to have to cancel the entire plans just because two people you’d like to have cannot make it. Once your potential guest list is developed you are ready to start shopping for your game.

Pick Your Theme and Game

The next step to planning your party is to pick your theme. The theme can be based on the time of year, or just by a collective interest. Let’s say for example you are planning to have a MMP sometime in February. Maybe you want to pick a Mardi Gras theme. Or, you know your group use to be die hard Soprano’s fans and a mobster theme would be a great idea. You have to remember who you have on your guest list and how they will identify with whatever theme you choose. The theme can really make the party and needs to not only appeal to you as a host, but to your entire party. Everyone will be taking on a role, make sure the theme is something everyone can get into.

Once you pick your theme, you have to decide if you want to buy a murder mystery kit that offers a script or is non-scripted. An unscripted kit will provide discussion topics in each scene, but unlike the scripted kit, it will not instruct the characters on exactly what to say. The scripted kits are the most popular as they take the pressure off your guests. With a script, guests don’t have to figure out what to say or ask and they can read along and just have a more relaxed experience. Kits without scripts will give ideas and questions each guest should ask, as well as accusations that should be made. They include tidbits of information about each character that the character should not reveal about themselves unless they are asked. The unscripted MMP can become a little more difficult for unexperienced murder mystery party goers. If your guests are experienced thespians, unscripted might work.

In addition to deciding if you are going with a scripted or unscripted kit, you will also need to make sure the kit accommodates the number of guests you plan on having. This means the number of characters needs to match the number of guests. Stay away from counting an “optional” guest as a guest. They will have to improvise the entire game and it just takes the fun away from that person. It’s awkward that they have to find a way to involve themselves in the game. Additionally, as you're looking at the kits, try to mentally match your guests to the characters. This will ensure participants will be matched up with a character they can have fun role playing.

FB Event Page picture for a Cruise Theme Murder Mystery Party

This is the picture I will be using on my FB event page for an upcoming Cruise Theme party.
This is the picture I will be using on my FB event page for an upcoming Cruise Theme party.

Invite Your Guests

After you’ve purchased your kit, you’ll need to send out your invites. Give your guests plenty of notice about the party. A suggested time frame would be 45 days in advance of the party. This gives guests time to decide if they want to participate in a MMP, as well as to determine if they are available for your party date. Additionally, it allows them ample time to conceptualize their character (we will talk more about this later).

You can invite guests a number of ways. Some kits (the boxed kind) will typically come with paper invites you can give out to guests. Downloadable games will give you scripted emails to send out to your guests. Either of these methods will work. But in today’s day and age and the wide use of social media, you may want to set up an event page on Facebook if your guests all have accounts. Having an event page for the MMP allows you to post the theme (gangsters) , outline of the MMP story (who has been murdered and the setting), and it can detail a list of all the characters. This allows your guests to get a real feel for what the night has in store and can generate some excitement about the party. After the event page invites go out, you can send individualized messages via Facebook to all the guests to give them greater details about their guests; offering them insight that others may not be privy to know until the night of the party. Obviously as host, you will know a little more than the others. You will have to be discreet with such information.

Decorating

Carnival Murder Mystery theme decorations
Carnival Murder Mystery theme decorations | Source
Angels and  Demons theme decorations
Angels and Demons theme decorations

Set The Stage

Murder mysteries are theme parties. To make it successful, have props, decorations and refreshments that support the theme. Let’s say you are having a carnival theme party. Get decorations that turn your home into a carnival (balloons, big top centerpieces, etc). You can decorate just the room where the party will happen, or all the rooms you anticipate your guests will be throughout the evening. For example, if you will have refreshments in a different room from where you will actually sit down and play the game, you might want to consider decorating that room as well. Your refreshments should also go with the theme if at all possible. For a carnival theme party, serve corndogs, popcorn, cotton candy flavored cocktails, etc. Have fun with it, all of these little touches will add to the setting and help your guests get into their character as soon as they walk into your party. Additionally, have your guests arrive a half hour before you intend to start the game. This gives guests time to socialize, indulge in drinks and food and just get comfortable with one another.

Costumes

Angels and Demons Murder Mystery costume ideas
Angels and Demons Murder Mystery costume ideas | Source

Be The Part

While dressing up isn’t mandatory to participate, it certainly does make it that much more fun! As the host, you definitely want to get into character. If you don’t go all out, your guests won’t either. They will follow your lead. Read about your character as it’s described in the game and feel free to add your own touches. Let’s say you are doing an angels versus demons theme and the host is a demon. As a demon, she dresses in all black, sprays her hair red and wears red contacts. She has transformed herself into a demon. As she is building her costume, she tells her guests how much fun she is having putting her costume together. They catch on to her enthusiasm and they start to develop their character as well. Part of the fun is when guests start showing up, everyone gets to see what the other has done to become their character. The more guests become the character, the more fun the night will be.

Murder Mystery Fun!

Assassins know how to have fun!
Assassins know how to have fun!

Have Fun!

Murder mystery parties are all about having fun. The most serious part of the party should be the preparations that go into planning for the evening. After that, it’s about everybody, including the host, kicking back and enjoying the party! Characters are chock full of nuances and details that build motives, offer clues and weave tangled webs around each other. Focus on being the best character you can be while listening to the details of the other characters and plotting your guess as to which one is the murderer. It could even be you!

Inviting a competitive bunch? Make the stakes of guessing the correct murderer that much more interesting by offering a small prize. The prize could be as simple as lottery scratch off tickets, a bottle of wine or a five dollar gift card to a local coffee shop. If more than one guest guesses the correct murderer, put their names in a hat and draw the prize winner. This is purely optional and not necessary; it just adds that extra competitive edge to the night!

Where You Can Purchase Games

The only site I can vouch for is this one because the scripts I write are featured here:

www.madmindmysteries.com

I cannot vouch for these sites as I have been writing my own scripts for the parties I host for the last several years. Personally, I like mine the best, but I am biased! But, to make your search easier you can try these sites:

www.mymysteryparty.com

www.host-party.com

www.nightofmystery.com

Read the reviews of each site if they offer them. I made the mistake of ordering one online and the script was pretty jacked up. That’s how I started writing my own. Rather than trying to find another game that matched the theme and number of guests I had already chosen, I decided to write my own. I never looked back since then!

Now get planning and have some fun!

What's Your Take

Have you ever hosted a murder mystery party at your home?

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    • Dana Hicks profile imageAUTHOR

      Dana Hicks 

      3 years ago from New Jersey

      You are the sweetest source of inspiration anyone could ever ask to have! Love you too!

    • profile image

      Kristiolli 

      3 years ago

      Love you mom! Great job! It makes everyone want to start writing and plan one! Now I know how you feel when one of us does something awesome and you say you are proud of us. That's how I feel for you!

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