A murder mystery party is all the rage, and not just around Halloween. These types of party themes have gained popularity not only through live-action role-play (LARP) games, but they have also been used as school fundraising events when all other options have run their course.
The plot needs to be easy-to-understand–on a few drinks–but also engaging enough to get everyone interested and involved. We’ll show you how to throw a murder mystery party on a budget, so you and your guests can have fun without breaking the bank!
Don’t forget these 4 crucial requirements if you want to have a killer night:
Start Planning Now
This is the most important step because unless you plan on using a kit if you really want to save money for this type of shindig, you need to start planning your event now and make sure you can be ready by the projected date.
For first-timers, we’d suggest setting the party date at least a month in advance so you can have all arrangements made (such as venue, food, costumes, props, etc.) and get the guest list ready. If this is your first time planning a murder mystery party, we would suggest groups of five to ten people for a first-timer, and you could have two or three different groups for this type of activity.
Choose Your Crime Scene
Just as with real estate, location is everything. If you’re having this type of party at your house, the venue is much easier, but many people choose to rent locations such as guest houses, hotel conference rooms, or camp-cabins at outdoor resorts.
No matter where you choose to hold your party, make sure your guests know how to get there and make sure all props are able to be placed there. You want to sell the place as a crime scene so things like lighting, props, body outlines, music and recordings all go a long way to getting everyone in the mood.
Make Sure to Serve Refreshments
If you can tie in your refreshments to the theme, so much the better! You can search the web (or Pinterest!) for ideas to fit your theme. To make the night really memorable we recommend taking your ideas to a caterer who’ll have a range of dishes that they can tailor you’re your unique night.
Alternatively, you can always go with standard party fare—chips and dip, finger sandwiches (add ketchup or hot sauce for an extra touch of “blood”), small cakes that fit the theme, and some sort of punch.
We advise very limited amounts of alcoholic beverages at your murder mystery party, especially if it is not taking place in your home! Yes, you want people to loosen up for sure but you don’t want to create too many bodies lying around in your crime scene.
Set Plotlines, Characters, and Kits
Part of why these types of parties take a little extra time in the planning stage is because you and your guests, as part of the game, are acting out various roles and playing characters, like actors in a play.
Some people may choose to purchase a murder mystery party kit online, available from a variety of online retailers, or they may want to check out free or cheap murder mystery party ideas via Pinterest or Etsy. There are many companies that specialize in this type of party atmosphere, and they’ll have lots of options that suit “murder mystery party”, no matter where you’re located!
The plot and characterizations may take the most time for both you and your guests, so make sure you have any handouts, plot synopses, and nametags available when they get there. If you’re doing a themed party, please let your guests know how to dress.
As mentioned, Costumes and props make this type of party much more fun!
Schedule Break Times
There are often three to four phases in this type of party, in which the “murder” happens, the guests must find clues and begin the search for the killer within the confines of the venue, and someone must be “accused” of the murder, with an optional arrest. We’d suggest a detailed kit for first-timers.
But also remember to take breaks between the phases because it gives your guests the opportunity to laugh and chat about the details. It also gives you the opportunity to go over the details of the upcoming phases if people have forgotten.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun at Your Murder Mystery Party
This is, after all, a party! Even though this is supposed to be a mystery, you can still make the party atmosphere enjoyable for you and your guests. While actual murder is a serious deal don’t take the whole night too seriously. Whodunit? Throw a murder mystery party and find out!