This Halloween, think outside the masquerade ball and throw a bash that will have everyone talking! While a murder mystery party is a great idea for any time of the year, it’s especially perfect for Halloween! Read on for some great tips on hosting the ultimate murder mystery bash, including how to save yourself a boatload of time and money thanks to Shindigs & Soirees!
Host the Ultimate Murder Mystery Party
*Heads up, I received the Murder Mystery in a Box set from Shindigs & Soirees in exchange for sharing about them here. All opinions are my own.
The Planning Stage
1- Come up with your theme and mystery
You have a few choices when it comes to creating a mystery for your party. If you’re super creative, you can totally make it up yourself. Make sure you make the plot engaging and somewhat believable (unless you’re going for the fantastical). Don’t forget to create enough characters for all of your guests and give those characters a good back story. If that sounds like too much of a pain, go for option b or c: finding a pre-made story online to use or buying a kit that comes with a story in it, like the kit from Shindigs & Soirees. It includes everything from the basic story to character profiles that you send in the invitations to deeper character details that you give out at your party, all clearly marked so you know what to give when.
Your theme will determine which props you need to buy, so consider that as well. If you do decide to go with the Murder Mystery in a Box, you don’t have to worry about buying props. It comes with pretty much everything you need…and then some.
2- Choose a location
While you could totally hold your murder mystery party in your own house, I don’t really love the idea of guests traipsing through all my rooms. First, that means that I would actually have to clean all of those rooms (rather than just making my living room, bathroom and kitchen presentable, then sealing off the rest of the house like I usually do). UGH, right? Second, a good murder mystery party needs atmosphere. My messy room with my wall covered in my son’s artwork doesn’t really scream “creepy.”
Again, you have a few options. First, if you have the budget for it, you could rent a place to host your party. This could be someplace as simple as your local VFW hall or as elaborate as a cool bed and breakfast that will let you take over for a night. Second, you could still host it at your own home but keep the majority of the party outdoors (but have a rain backup plan). Set up the murder scene in your living room, add some clues (and plenty of food, more on that later) to your kitchen, then send guests outdoors for more sleuthing.
3- Pick your date and send out invites
If you’re hosting your party at a venue or B&B, availability will determine your date for the most part. If you’re doing it at home, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to clean and set the stage. You don’t want to throw a party tomorrow when your house is a disaster, trust me. You’ll be up all night cleaning and won’t be able to enjoy your party! Give yourself a good two weeks and send out the invites early. Don’t forget to assign each guest a character and send them a quick profile with their invite so they can check it out and get in the right mood.
4- Plan your menu
Decide whether you want to have a fancy sit-down dinner as party of your murder mystery party or whether you’ll just serve appetizers, desserts and drinks. If you planned your party for right around dinner time, you’re going to need to feed your guests something more than just chips and dip, so keep that in mind! If you’re going to serve alcohol, be responsible and have a plan for guests who don’t have a designated driver available to pick them up. The Murder Mystery in a Box comes with a sheet filled with food and drink ideas. I love the “death by chocolate” for dessert idea!
Gather all of your decorations at least a few days before the party to make sure you have everything you need. You don’t want to run to the store at the last minute! Don’t forget the tape! Shindigs & Soirees actually includes a roll for you in their boxes. They also give you plenty of gorgeous decorations. Like, crazy beautiful! Check out a closer look at the details on the banner!
Your kit also comes with plenty of other decorations like balloons, caution tape, laminated signs, and more.
2- Set up your clues
Your murder mystery will have two types of clues: those related to the story and those that help guide guests to the main clues. The secondary clues are things like footprints, “blood” spatter, etc that you can place in the general vicinity of the main clues (but not right on top of them, that’s a little too obvious). If you’re hosting your party outside, make a list of the places you plan to place your clues, then set them up about an hour before the party starts.
3- Pick some mood music
Every successful bash needs music, including a murder mystery party! You can go with a themed playlist if you want. There are far more songs about murder out there than I ever realized (seriously, just search Bing and you’ll see)! Classical music also works great, just pick some of the spookier pieces. Again, just search for “spooky classical music” to find some ideas. Of course, you don’t want the music to overwhelm conversation. It should be background sound to set the mood, not “dance party” loud.
4- Set the table
Whether you’re serving a sit-down meal or just snacks, your guests will need plates and utensils, right? When they arrive, they’ll also need the rest of their script. Kill two proverbial birds with one stone by setting a spot for each guest with everything they need to get started. The Murder Mystery Party in a Box comes with themed plates, super cool handmade utensil sets, and fun little magnifying glasses for party favors. You’ll also find two tablecloths (one red and one black) to complete the look.
When your guests arrive, give them all a few minutes the mingle before directing them to their seats (or spots around a central area, like a living room). Set the stage, make sure everyone understands their roles, then get out of the way. Since you already know who the murderer is, it’s important to kind of fade into the background. Remember, you’re an NPC (non-playing character). Refresh the snacks, serve the drinks, etc. DON’T talk about the case. You could inadvertently give something away just through your body language.
Of course, if your guests get too stuck, then you may need to step in and guide them towards a clue. You don’t want people to get frustrated and give up! Once the mystery is solved, give your guests a little down time to mingle again before kicking them out the door!
What’s in the Shindigs & Soirees Murder Mystery Party Box?
I have to say, if you’re going to throw the ultimate murder mystery party, Shindigs & Soirees’ Murder Mystery Party in a Box is definitely the way to go! There’s so much stuff, I couldn’t fit it all into the pictures! Take a look at everything that’s include:
- A “WHO DUN IT?” Banner
- Peel in Place Footprints
- Police Line Do Not Cross Tape
- Masking tape for body outline
- Confidential Folder
- Clue Cards/Pens
- Detective Notes
- A ” A Little Party Never Hurt Anybody” sign
- Arrows cutouts
- Balloons (in various shapes and coordinating colors)
- Paper Dinner Plates
- Paper Dessert Plates
- Plastic Utensils
- Paper Napkins
- Paper Straws
- Plastic Champagne Glasses
- Name Tags of players
- Evidence Tags
- Pick your Poison Drink Sign
- Game Script/Instructions
- Food Ideas/Tags
- Treat Bags
- Party Idea Booklet
The balloons, plates, utensils, and other decorative elements are red, white, and black. You get all of that for just $75 shipped for a party of 10 (they offer free shipping in the US), which is WAY less than you would spend on everything separately (plus, don’t forget, some of these elements are handmade and much more original compared to what you’ll find in stores). You can also buy larger sets for more guests. They offer sets for 10, 15, 25, and 50 people (the 50 guests set is only $120). Oh, and the box! I LOVE the box that it’s shipped in! It’s actually a reusable storage box!
FYI, Shindigs and Soirees has plenty of other parties in a box, from popular themes like mermaids and dinosaurs to more original themes like camping and butterfly garden parties. Head over to their website and browse around!
Have you ever hosted a murder mystery party? What other tips do you have to make it a success?