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Murder Mystery Parties Make for an Intriguing Evening

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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September 9, 2014


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Video Courtesy of My Mystery Party

Murder Mystery Parties Have a Lot of Entertainment Value

Murder mystery parties can be intriguing, suspenseful,  dramatic and…funny!

The guests were in the living room enjoying cocktails when they heard a death curdling scream! They hurried to the bedroom where they found Mrs. Curtis in shock staring at the body of her husband sprawled out on the floor. His shirt soaked with blood. His eyes still open and a look of fear registered on his frozen face. To his right, a single, solitary word was written with thick indelible ink. The word “karma.” However, as gruesome as this sounds it’s not a real crime scene! It’s all part of a well orchestrated murder mystery party.

The Anatomy of a Good Murder Mystery Party

Not only are murder mystery parties entertaining but everybody gets to join in, mingle and have fun. If you buy one of the many murder mystery game kits you’ll be starting on the right foot with a cd, cards, scripts, clues, name tags and in some cases even a recipe book. Some kits come with optional pre-game materials as well. These may include things like tickets, story invitations and character tasks, They help set the story and add excitement before the party begins.

In the case of murder mystery themed dinner parties a game could last for 3 – 4 hours.

A Typical Three Rounds

Many of these games have three rounds. The following is just to give you an idea of what each round may entail.

Round One

When guests arrive they read the guest instruction card. It may inform them how many rounds there are and that they will receive an envelope to start each round that will give them all the information they need to play their role.

As the host, you might like to introduce the characters to all those present or simply hand out the round one cards and let them introduce themselves.

Round one is all about breaking the ice, building characters and establishing motives for murder. Be sure to give your guests enough time to talk to all the other characters at least once.

Round Two

Round two is probably going to be broken up into a pre and post murder segment. Possible motives for the murder will become clearer and then Bang! Someone dies. A player will be informed on his or her round two clue card if he or she is the victim.

Round two is a good time to have dinner and the game kit you’re using may have a side bonus game you can play.

If food is somehow tied into the story you might give everyone a chance to make something. If the death takes place, for example, in a pizzeria you might like to provide all the pizza ingredients and get everyone to make their own mini-pizza.

The post murder segment is when everybody goes into interrogation mode and tries to determine who the murderer is.

The victim might be found with evidence on him that may help shed some light on who the killer is. It could be a copy of an email, contracts or pills. Later, their might even be a forensic analysis to be had that contains a tantalizing clue.

Their may be an investigation sheet for players to fill out and give to the host.

Round Three

Round three is all about solving who did the dirty! During this time it’s a good idea to have everyone sit around in a circle. Serve coffee, tea and dessert then stand back and let the accusations fly!

After the players have finished accusing one another hand out the clue cards for round three. This might include a ‘solution card’ where characters will read in a pre-determined order in front of the group disclosing their involvement with the crime. The murderer will confess or be revealed!

At the end of each round you may be required to play the CD. Be careful about doing this! Only play the requisite track. Some people have ended up playing the wrong track and revealed prematurely who the killer was!

It’s All in the Details

Putting some real effort into a party like this is really going to pay off and maybe even make it the most memorable night of the year. One of the ways you can take it to the next level is in the details.

This particular murderous night that I described at the beginning is off to a good start.

Guests were told a week before the party what their role was and what their character was like.

The cocktails guests were enjoying was all part of the story. They all were in character leading up to the death. The host nailed the death scene putting to good use his dramatic flair and penchant for theatrics.

The setting of the story was in a wealthy Russian’s home. The host asked around and managed to procure some Russian decor and props. These included matryoshka dolls, imperial porcelain, a Russian shawl and a decorative jewelry egg.

For dinner there were several kinds of Russian food including Russian borscht (soup), blini (kind of crepe) and caviar (fish eggs). Rather than cooking up a storm and feeling overwhelmed he had his guests bring a dish each.

As for drinks, there was a bottle of Russian vodka available.  Russian tea was also served with a small dish of fruit preserve and a slice of sweet cake. 

The detective that came traced the body using chalk, placed the gun in a ziploc bag and took out a notebook and pen when he started to ask questions.

The Russian pop music that was being played lightly in the background came courtesy of Youtube.

Picture Opportunities

These kind of parties provide some wonderful photo opportunities. Take individual pictures of your guests. Get them to assume the persona and body language of their character. Then have everyone together doing the same thing. Bonus marks if you actually make a nice backdrop. These are photos you will treasure for many years to come.

Check-out Spoiler Free Consumer Reviews

Before you buy a game check out reviews by people who have actually played it. You might learn something valuable. For example, you might find out that the ‘extra players’ roles don’t have that many lines and are a little disappointing.

Your Contribution as a Guest

If you are a guest to one of these parties then try to make a solid contribution. Give your role some thought. How would this character dress? Would he or she have an accent? How would he or she come across to others? How would you describe his or her body language?

If you take the time to become familiar with the lines of your character and say it without reading word for word that will really help make the party awesome.

Murder mystery parties are a lot of fun. You get to see a whole other side to your friends and you yourself pretend to be someone you’re not. Few social events give you this kind of opportunity.

murder mystery parties
Line engraving by J. Brown, 1846 (J. Barker Iconographic Collections.) This file comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom. / CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

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