Planning your murder mystery party the fun way, the brilliant way, the murderous way!
Planning your murder mystery party… This is the big picture view here, what’s your plan? That includes when to buy the game, where’s it going to be at, when to invite guests and are you going to have food?
First of all take your time…
I find that the more time spent planning and preparing for a murder mystery event… the better. When you take the time to work out all the details, the more fun everyone (and that includes you) will have by far.
It’s worth every ounce of time spent planning your event, and I’ve written this to remind you and myself to do just that. I sometime rush ahead and try to do to much and take on to much of the work myself. Stop right now and take a breath and get organized. Who are you going to call and have them join in planning this brilliant event.
Planning your murder mystery party takes time…
We can and have hosted a murder mystery events at very short notice (as little as few days.) However, I really don’t recommend doing it… as I now refuse to do any planning of your murder mystery party at the last minute without being paid huge amounts of cash up front. I like a much less stressful life.
Here’s my ideal timing for an event… this is my recommended timetable.
2 to 3 months in advance.
Choose your murder mystery (The Story, The Theme)
There are many different themes.. old west, Christmas, pirate, luau, crime bosses, a winery mystery or a theme you want.
Once you have chosen the story, the theme, you should then purchase it right away, rather than leave it to the last minute. That way you can start organizing out the simple parts of the event and the cast, the props, clues… all the things like that. It just gives you sufficient time to read it and absorb everything. You can get the storyline down in your head. You don’t have to know who the killers is, you don’t have to solve the mystery… it can stay an unsolved mystery for you until the night of the event. You just want to be sure of all the needed parts to make the event work.
Planning your murder mystery party should be fun…
Next you should start to consider a venue for your event. Do you already have somewhere in mind, or do you need to start looking?
One of the most critical parts for this venue is to ensure that it will have enough space for your guests to mingle.
Smaller games can easily held at someone’s home, but the larger games (certainly anything with more than 30 people) probably needs a large hall or meeting room.
When looking at a venue here are a few things to consider:
Planning your murder mystery party can have a huge effect on its success…
The space must fit everyone in it and also give them their own private space for conversations with the suspects. As a result, this tends to mean that the party will spill out into corners and corridors and maybe even side rooms. While we are happy to encourage that, there are some areas we might not want them to go into, so we may need to post notices saying which areas are “off limits” to guests.
If you’re holding a dinner party style game, you will need places for your guest to sit and eat. Which includes tables, chairs and TV trays and of course food and drinks. If you are serving a buffet, or pot-luck or finger foods you will still need space for all that and for people to sit and eat, and that means that you’ll need the space to serve them and maybe access to a kitchen.
Even if you’re not serving food, you will need to have refreshments on hand (murder mysteries make for thirsty work).
Breakables, while nobody plans to break things, accidents can happen when everyone gets caught up in the party spirit. So if you’ve got anything delicate or precious, it’s best to remove it from harm’s way. Just in case.
Always think safety first, please make sure that your murder mystery party venue is a safe venue. Watch out for trip hazards (such as cables, toys and the like), low tables (to bang shins on) and sharp edges. If you have guests with limited mobility attending, you need to consider your venue even more carefully.
Planning your murder mystery party with safety in mind…
Always think about lighting, it can be very tempting to dim the lights to create an appropriately mysterious atmosphere for your event… but be cautious of this. People need the right amount of light to read and see the clues and also stairs and other potential trip hazards will be harder to negotiate. We don’t want to harm people.
Fire hazard items, like candles and lanterns can create a great atmosphere but they also come with a huge fire risk. I’d certainly think twice before allowing them, and I’d want to make sure that I’d minimised the risk of them getting out of hand. Glow stick in a jars work better and last about two hours or LED lighted candles are cool too.
Insurance, If you’re hiring a hall or a hotel function space or similar, you need to check if you’re covered for insurance. If not, the venue should be able to advise you further.
Planning your murder mystery party with your guests and their interests in mind…
Parking, does your murder mystery venue have enough parking? These days, most of your guests will drive to your venue (unless you’re hosting it in a location with excellent public transport) so you need to make sure that everyone will be able to park.
When working out how much parking you need allow one car per couple, plus one car per individual or single guest – and then add a few car spaces for those couples that for whatever reason decide to come separately. If parking isn’t obvious, you will want to tell everyone where to park when you send out directions.
Make sure you have directions to the venue for your guests.
Set a date, and start inviting guests.
Start allocating Suspects to your guests list… you want to generate interest in your party.
Send out the following information:
A description of the game – possibly copied from the game info or the introductory file.
When and where you are planning on hosting your party.
A date for your guests to reply back by… at this point you are simply wanting them to RSVP back. Some won’t be able to attend and you need to identify those people asap.
For the guests who are going to show, they may want more information about the murder mystery event, you could email or call or mail with more tips for playing the game.
Costumes and decorating:
Tell them to dress as their favorite fictional detective. Ask them to help you decorate the venue on the night of the event and even ask them to come up with party ideas. Having them help with the planning for murder mystery party can add to the fun and even take some of the pressure off of you that night.
Start food planning ideas.
I recommend finger foods (such as veggi plates or pizza) for an interactive murder mystery party so that guests can continue to mingle and for the party to carry on uninterrupted. If you choose to have a sit-down meal understand that your event will probably run longer due to serving food and cleaning up the tables.
When I am organising these murder mysteries, I try whenever possible to get someone else to organise the food. What works really well is for the guests to bring a different dish for a buffet or pot-luck style… one brings sandwiches, another salad and yet another guest brings chips and so on. Even a Bake Potato Bar works too (someone bakes potatoes, the rest bring toppings.)
Two weeks before
Print out everything you need for the game and stuff envelopes. Do this two weeks before the event, it will save you a lot of hard work later. trust me, it’s never fun having to print out and stuffing envelopes two hours before a party. I really don’t recommend that as there are usually other things you should be doing then.
Send the invitations out to the guest detectives and remind them to dress as their favorite fictional detective. Make sure you ask for their RSVPs.
Finalise the guest list.
Check with the people you have chooses as suspects, make sure their still going to do the parts. That way if you need to find someone one else as a suspect there will be time. Start casting to give your guests as long as possible to get their costumes ready.
However, make sure you stay flexibility with casting, you never know when some guests might cancel between now and your party and you may need to find more suspects. I hope this doesn’t happen but it has been known to happen a time or two.
one week before.
Send out the information… with the invitations to each suspect, you should also include directions to the venue, for those who don’t know where it is. They will get the full packet the day of the event (you will make sure they get the full character information at the event, correct?)
Finalize the food – or at least check that the food and drink is ready and will be there the day of the event.
Check to see if you understand all the rules of the murder mystery game. Go over them again and again just to be sure.
On the Day
Prepare your venue (move anything delicate out of harm’s way, make sure you have enough seating, clear a space for the food and drink).
Then, just follow the instructions that come with the game and have a good party!
A lot of this Planning your murder mystery party can be handle by hiring Master Detective Father Yule John Rakestraw, to take care of many of the details for you on the day of the Murder Mystery Event. You would only need to handle the venue, food and your choice of the 6 suspects.
When planning your murder mystery party… HAVE FUN! ALWAYS PLAN TO HAVE A HUGE AMOUNT OF FUN!!!!
Murder is a messy business… let us take care of the bloody details.