How to Host a Murder Mystery Party

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For the past 4 years Justin and I have hosted an annual Murder Mystery Party with some of our friends. It is something I look forward to every single year!

It takes a pretty good deal of prep work from the host/narrator but it’s generally easy for each guest. So if you are up to the challenge and have a few hours to spend prepping, you should host your own murder mystery this year!

I’ve bought 3 of the 4 murder mystery storylines from playingwithmurder.com. We’ve done “Last Stop: Murder, Jazz Age Jeopardy, and Zombie Cannibal Asylum”. Last year our friends Jenna and Bobby decided to WRITE the murder mystery storyline and it was a High School Reunion theme.

My favorite one to dress up and decorate for was Jazz Age Jeopardy. I learned amazon has a ton of flapper costumes for cheap and found a dress for about $30!

This year we chose the Mardi Gras Masks Murder storyline which should be equally as fun to dress up for since it’s a masquerade party at the Governor of Louisana’s house.

I love knowing how the evening will play out, assigning characters, knowing who gets “murdered”, and generally keeping the flow of the evening going. I try to keep it fun and entertaining for everyone and even those who may not really be into acting seem to have a good time when it’s all over.

I thought I’d share a few tips if you decide to host one this year, based on my experience thus far.

  1. Purchase a storyline from Playing With Murder. All the steps are laid out for you and all you do is follow directions. It truly couldn’t be easier. It takes time to read it, organize clues and props, and assign characters but it’s not difficult to do.
  2. Assign characters strategically. Make sure the murderer, one to be murdered, and vital roles are assigned to guests who will definitely attend the party. There is usually a good mix of essential characters and supporting characters, so be mindful about how you assign the roles.
  3. Make sure your space is decorated based on the story and clearly marked. Sometimes specific events need to happen at a certain location, so something as basic as hanging a sign to represent the Bar, or the back alley, is helpful. Remember that the characters only know a little bit of backstory and their own information, so everything you can do to set the scene is really important!

We usually all contribute on the food front so it’s nice to have that off my plate (pun intended) since I’m usually spending a few hours decorating on the day of the party. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them quickly!

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Comments (28)

  1. Posted October 4, 2018

    This is such a fun party theme! I could take a few pointers from you – I’ve never successfully hosted a party before! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Posted October 4, 2018

    I love this idea! and you maybe rescued my life, I have to host a pre-halloween party and I had zero clue (dogs&people). I think to pick “the great canine follicle debacle” is a fab idea ;O)

  3. Michele says
    Posted October 4, 2018

    I love this!

    In that group shot, I feel like you were maybe a librarian (I feel like you’re holding a book) and definitely get a Sweeney Todd vibe from Justin…am I correct?

  4. Amanda says
    Posted October 4, 2018

    We will be having our 3rd murder mystery party this year. They are so much fun! We’ve done the 20’s themed “Grand Gatsby” and an 80’s “Like, OMG, Murder!”. This year we are doing a Western theme one and everyone is so excited!

  5. Krista Miller says
    Posted October 4, 2018

    I love this idea!! Ideally how many people is the “right number” of people to invite? I want to make sure I have enough people for all the roles to be filled but not so many that it’s chaos!

    • Kate says
      Posted October 4, 2018

      It depends on the mystery you purchase. You have to make sure the vital roles are filled and then have enough people for the supporting roles. You can find this info on the website I recommended in the post!

  6. Rebekah K says
    Posted October 4, 2018

    I have always wanted to host one of these but never have! Thanks for the post! Such a fun idea! I have had friends say that sometimes the story lines can have inappropriate or uncomfortable story lines. Is there a way to find out content before you buy a mystery script?

    • Tami says
      Posted October 4, 2018

      Yes, I want to make sure it’s appropriate as well!!

    • Kate says
      Posted October 4, 2018

      Not really but I’ve just resolved that if there is some adult content that we aren’t comfortable with I can just switch the storyline to something more g-rated. The most our storylines have involved is flirting with another character so what we’ve done is just announced “Cindy is supposed to be flirting with Martin everyone” so she doesn’t actually do it.

  7. Tami says
    Posted October 4, 2018

    as the host, besides the game and food, what would you say would be a fair budget for this?

    • Kate says
      Posted October 4, 2018

      It really depends on how much you want to spend on decorations so there isn’t a set amount. I probably spend a few hundred dollars every year on the decor, props and then my outfit. You could certainly do it for cheaper, again it’s really up to what you are able to/willing to spend.

  8. Posted October 4, 2018

    This looks like such a fun idea! I wonder if I can get one organized in the next few weeks!?!

  9. Gina says
    Posted October 4, 2018

    I was just looking into this the other day. I have 8 definite people (maybe 10-12). Can it be done with just 8?

    • Kate says
      Posted October 5, 2018

      It depends on the murder mystery package–it always states how many people you need for the party!

  10. Carla says
    Posted October 4, 2018

    I am organizing a murder mystery for my 60th Birthday. I have 24 guests on the list. Thinking of the speak easy themed one. My daughters house is a huge old home with a grand staircase and pocket doors separating the livingroom and the foyer etc. any tips or suggestions beside the ones above? I’m thinking of having my daughter know who the murderer/murdered are so I can just join the fun. Ps love the blog and you and family! Been following you since before David! ❤️

    • Kate says
      Posted October 5, 2018

      You could assign her a supporting role so she doesn’t know the ENTIRE story but can still help you set up

  11. Kristi says
    Posted October 4, 2018

    How does the party go for the murdered character? Do they need to sit out for all the fun?

    • Kate says
      Posted October 5, 2018

      They are reassigned a new role!

  12. Meg says
    Posted October 4, 2018

    As the host, are you also a character?

    • Kate says
      Posted October 5, 2018

      Yes but also the narrator who runs the show

  13. Bridgett says
    Posted October 6, 2018

    I have don’t the Manhattan one. It was fun but all important roles went to guys. Have you done one that has a better mix of important people? I know there’s an all girl one but I’m still wanting couples.

    • Bridgett says
      Posted October 6, 2018

      I have done* the Manhattan one

    • Kate says
      Posted October 9, 2018

      I have not done that one but I’ve found all the other ones were a good mix of important roles!

  14. Denise says
    Posted October 11, 2018

    Does the murderer and victim know they are the murderer and victim from the beginning? Is there anyway around me (the host) knowing who the murderer is so i can play along?

    • Bridgett says
      Posted October 11, 2018

      There’s no getting around it, the host has to know. There’s a massive book when you download the game, you have to read all through it, know each character and assign the characters to your friends based on who can handle what part. Say the one person is a drunk- you need a friend that can handle that. Or in one game that I did, one of the characters had tried to commit suicide. You gotta read through and know all the characters, including the murderer to make sure you give the parts to the right people. Also, some characters are necessary and some are not, so you have to make sure you give the murderer to someone who will without a doubt be there.

  15. Meagan says
    Posted October 11, 2018

    Love this idea!

  16. Shannon says
    Posted October 15, 2018

    How do you manage your kiddos during the party? I’m wondering if we could successfully pull off a party with a babysitter keeping kids upstairs watching movie and then get them to bed…

    • Kate says
      Posted October 15, 2018

      We just put ours to bed! My in laws are going to come help that day too!