Murder Mystery Party

magnifying glassMurder Mystery parties are becoming all the rage and are perfect for just about any party that can utilize a theme. They are oh-so-popular for Halloween and Mardi Gras Carnival, but can also be a hit for other holidays, luaus, birthday, college, dinner parties, and sleepovers. You name it.

A well put-together Murder Mystery will not soon be forgotten. Once word gets out, everyone will be clamoring for an invitation to one of your next parties. Hosting one takes a bit more organization than an ordinary shindig and the details should be worked out before the guest list is compiled. Below are ideas and helpful tips that should help you put it all together.

Planning & Plotting

There are several methods to planning a murder mystery party. You can hire a professional party planner that specializes in these types of parties, buy a boxed set with clues and supplies, download a kit with instructions, purchase a book, or completely do-it-yourself. A scripted mystery will have a smaller "cast of characters" and is more popular in a dinner party or theatre setting. These are very organized with the guests being the "detectives."

Regardless of which party you plan, you will need to have a setting with decorations & props, a crime, good plot, colorful characters, and motives. Modern parties have multiple plots and guests will have a lot of social interaction while trying to figure out whodunit. Timelines include evenings, nights, and entire weekends. You can divide the time in to scenes or rounds, offering events and clues along the way.

Remember, murder mysteries are not just for adults. Kids and teens love them too. There's one caveat though, be careful of too many red herrings. The mystery doesn't have to be easy, but it needs to be solvable. Consider the age of your guests when choosing your plot. Make sure it's appropriate. When purchasing a kit online, look for reviews of those who have already hosted that particular party. Popular companies already have good reputations.


Complete instructions are essential to any game. They should be clear-cut and easy to follow. For a successful murder mystery party, you should read them in advance and understand them. Don't wait until the last minute. Read them upon receipt and refer back to them while you're planning the party. If you have any questions, you can ask the company or post on a forum that some have available. You'll often get good answers and more ideas for making your party a smashing success.

Let the guests know how important it is for them to follow the directions. If they don't, they may spoil your party. Also, loose lips sink ships. Anyone with inside knowledge should not be sharing any information with anyone who is not "in on it."


Send out the invitations early and advise guests to r.s.v.p. for a character. Communication is key. Keep in touch and follow up to make sure they still plan on attending. Depending on the plot, you may need a certain amount of male and female "characters," however, some roles may be androgynous. The invites should announce your theme as well as pertinent information regarding the party. Ask guests to dress according to the theme, era, etc., but offer help locating costumes, accessories, and props.


The menu for your murder mystery party should be kept simple unless it's a dinner party or catered. If you're providing your own food, it's wise to have someone assigned to the task so that you can focus on your mystery. Another idea is to have a potluck and have everyone bring a dish. If you decide to have a potluck, it should be stated on the invitations, along with some food ideas or recipes that will fit in with the theme of your party.


Take pictures, and lots of them! If you don't, you'll likely end up with regrets. Pass around the camera or have disposable ones available for anyone who wishes to play photographer. This way, you'll be in some of the photos too. After the party, you can use the pictures to place in a photo album or scrapbook. It's so cool to have your party "documented" and it will be a pleasant surprise for guests of subsequent murder mystery parties.

Allow time forguests to mingleea while longer after the mystery is solved. This will allow them to discover clues they missed and perhaps some well-kept plot secrets. The "after party" is part of the fun and will likely be another highlight of your murder mystery party.a while longer after the mystery is solved. This will allow them to discover clues they missed and perhaps some well-kept plot secrets. The "after party" is part of the fun and will likely be another highlight of your murder mystery party.

Award a prize to the ultimate Sherlock. A DVD, gift card, bottle of wine, or movie tickets all make great prizes. A prize isn't mandatory but your party will be better if you award the winner. Consider party favors relevant to the theme for participants.