If you’ve ever watched Miss Marple or Poirot or read any of the late Agatha Christie novels you’ve probably tried to put yourself in the detective’s shoes, tried to follow the clues and solve the murder along with the characters. Have you ever thought wouldn’t it be fun to do that in real life? Of course, it’s not possible to become a real detective without extensive training and real crime is definitely not as much fun as fictional crime. Fortunately, there are ways to enjoy the full detective experience and set foot inside your own mystery novel without any training at all.
Murder Mystery Parties have become hugely popular in recent years but with so many option out there to chose from you might be thinking “Where do I begin?” A valid point and you certainly won’t be the only one that is feeling that way. Fortunately, this page can help support you in your quest to become a super sleuth.
A recurring theme in a lot of murder mysteries is romance, young love, jealousy and betrayal, a rekindled romance or a 2nd chance at happiness when hope was lost, maybe even a complex love triangle or long buried scandal. There’s always something and with Valentines Day just around the corner why not lean into that and host your own Valentines Day Murder Mystery?
Right, we have a theme, what do we do next? Well if you’re creative and have the time you might want to have a go at writing your own murder mystery party but if, like many others you don’t feel you can do that not to worry, there are plenty of options out there. You can pick one of the many pre-made game packs already out there. These boxed games are great because they include everything you need to plan and host a fantastic murder mystery party. You just have to ask yourself, which one you want to use for your Valentines Day Murder Mystery Party. Now, there are a few things you need to think about before selecting your game.
Number of Guests
The number of guests will affect other decisions you need to make. So firstly, think about how many people are you planning on inviting. Will it be just a couple of people? If so, you may want to host this party at your home, serve dinner around your dining table and entertain people in your lounge. This type of setting is best for between 4 and 8 people. However, if you are inviting more people you may want to look at booking a bigger venue. Function Rooms and pubs or church halls can be great for larger parties. Of course, the final venue you choose may be determined not only by guest numbers but also by the setting you want for your party.
So, you’ve decided how many people you are inviting and you’ve thought about the size of venue you’d need. Now, whether you’re hosting a small gathering in your house or a larger gathering at a venue somewhere you then need to think about the setting. Murder Mystery Games have a variety of options to choose from. If you’re wanting a Valentine’s Day Murder Mystery Party then you might want a Gothic Romance, so what about a Masquerade Ball set in Venice in 1755? Maybe you’re thinking about High Society in Regency England? Perhaps you want a little more Glitz and Glam, if so what about a Gatsby 1920s jazz style party?
Whatever setting you chose the game should have everything you need included within the box:-
- A helpful guide that will help you as the host plan the party,
- A variety of characters to choose from and everything you need to know about them.
- Any evidence you and your guests will need to solve the crime.
So, you’ve chosen your game? That’s fantastic! Now you need to invite your guests. Most murder mystery game packs will have an invitation for you, you can use this and send this directly, or use it as a template and create your own. The invitation will need to say the name of the venue, date and time of the party and of course you’ll need to tell the guests who they’ll be playing…
The Character list will be found within the game pack, it will tell you their names, a little bit about them and should give you some suggestions as to what costumes they could wear, if they want to dress up. So, think about the people you are inviting and have a look through the character list. Now you have choices to make, do you know your guests well? If so, you could think about what characters they might enjoy playing and give them those characters. However, it’s your party, so you get final say on, well everything. You may want to give your guests a character that might challenge them or you may just want to randomly deal them out. It’s up to you. Sometimes hosts will let guests choose their own character, but that can cause conflict and confusion so as host it’s always better than you make the decisions to enable the game to run smoothly. Once you’ve decided which guest is going to be which character, get your invitations sent out as soon as possible, allow guests plenty of time to confirm attendance.
Now the real fun begins because it’s time to start planning your party. The best thing to do now you know your guest numbers and your game choice is to pick a venue...
For a Valentine’s Day Murder Mystery you may want to book a few weeks in advance if you’re going with a venue other than your house. If you have a budget to splash out a bit you can choose a venue that fits your theme. Many Victorian and Georgian buildings will have a room or hall for hire. You may want to hire a function room in a pub or restaurant that’s’ already got a 1920’s Art Deco vibe to it. But any hall or function room with a neutral background can be turned into an elegant and romantic setting for your party with just a few simple touches.
Never underestimate the power of candlelight. Whether you opt for live flame or to avoid fire risks you can use electric flame instead. The flickering on the walls and the shadows they cast can create a perfect environment for love and murder…
If you don’t have the use of candles, then picking somewhere with low and warm lighting can create the effect of candles. Many venues will have their own lighting rig for events, these can be set up to be the colour and brightness you choose and are designed to be simple, so you don’t have to be a technical genius to set them up how you want. Venue’s with a lighting rigs or even a simple switch in the room can also help if you want to stage the scene. Imagine, the lights go and when they come back on, there’s been a murder! *gasp* (no one saw that coming did they?) And with smart phones and access to the internet you can add a gunshot or glass smash at the touch of a button. How effective could that be when the lights go out?
Then of course there’s the power of mood music. Music streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify, give you access to any type of music you want. Whether you want your classical piano pieces for your masquerade ball, your upbeat jazz numbers for your Gatsby themed party or simply your epic love ballads. You can guarantee there will be a playlist somewhere. You can even make your own and have full control over the music that is played. If you haven’t subscribed to any of these services not to worry, they usually offer a free trial, all you need is an email address, just remember to cancel before your free trial ends if you don’t want to be charged.
You’ve got the lighting and you’ve got the music but what about decorations? Think about colours, reds, pinks and whites are often associated with Valentines Day. You can make your own confetti, streamers and paper crafts if you have the skills, but if not you can buy streamers and confetti directly from shops. You don’t need to splash out and go to a specialist craft or card shop either, because a bargain or discount shop is likely to have the things you need. If you have the time to order and get it delivered, then the internet is a fantastic place to order party supplies.
So, whether you want funny ‘selfie’ packs, with moustaches on sticks or elegant masquerade masks, delicate origami swans or paper hearts on the tables, you can find everything online, if you know where to look. Once your decorations arrive it’s a good idea to get them set up the night before your party, if you are hosting it at home or get into the venue early on the day of your party and get everything ready before your guests arrive. This means you can enjoy the party too and not worry about anything else.
As this is a party, you then need to think about the food you want to serve. Will you be having a set 2 or 3 course meal? If so it might be worth doing a bit of research and looking for some traditional dishes from the time period your party is set. You’ll also need to factor in whether this will be cooked by you or someone else. If you are hosting your party at home, or whether the food will be provided by the venue or whether you need to hire a caterer.
If you have a lot of guests at a venue you’ve hired, then a buffet table where guests can help themselves to what they fancy might be a simpler (and cheaper) option. You can order a basic buffet meal with a very low cost per head or if, it’s a large party and so that might not be within your budget then you can organise it yourselves. Again its useful to do a bit of research into some traditional dishes of the time period if you want to create something authentic, but simple cakes and sandwiches can be perfect for your party as well. You can find Valentine’s Day Cupcakes or Gingerbread Hearts and similar recipes online. If you are worried about the budget then you can always discuss with your guests to bring something with them. If you are going through the trouble of planning and hosting a party, most people should be willing to contribute something to the food table.
We’re nearly there, you’ve picked a theme, you’ve sorted the venue, you’ve planned all the food, decorations and the music. Everything is ready for the night, the only thing left to do is make sure you’re ready. Here are a few things to check before your party begins:-
- You’ve booked and decorated the venue
- You’ve bought or made enough food and drink for all your guests
- You’ve chosen a game that will work for you and your guests
- You’ve sent out invites and characters to everyone attending
- You’ve either, sent digital copies or printed the character booklets for your guests
- You’ve printed or loaded onto a device (phone, tablet or laptop) the detective script and evidence ready to be consulted or played aloud when needed.
- You’ve got any music or sound affects you are using loaded onto a device ready to play.
Everything done? Great! You’re all ready to go. So now’s the time, go get yourself ready and then, the rest is up to you and your guests, go have fun and solve a murder!