How to host a Halloween murder mystery party
The temperature drops, the days get shorter, the leaves turn, and Halloween is right around the corner. Start getting ready to throw a Halloween party to remember.
Your guests arrive adorned in eccentric and frightful costumes. They're greeted with a delicious cocktail and frightful hors d'oeuvres. Spooky music and laughter swirl above the heads of ghouls, ghosts, vampires, and beasts alike—the warm flicker of lit jack o'lantern entrance welcomes the All Hallows Eve festivities.
Suddenly, a blood-curdling scream deafens the room. Everyone rushes to the ear-splitting shrills, only to freeze with terror. A murder! A theft! And now, all partygoers are suspects, but all are now detectives.
So, how do you host a Halloween murder mystery dinner party to remember?
- Choose Virtual or IRL murder mystery game style
- Choose a murder mystery party theme
- Send themed invitations
- Assign murder mystery characters
- Decide on the event space
- Plan the Halloween party menu
- Decide on spooky drinks
- Decorate the space in all things halloween
- Create the Halloween music playlist
- Play the game
- Award prizes to murder mystery participants
Celebrate Halloween this year with an enthralling murder mystery dinner party, and use our guide to help you host a murder mystery Halloween party.
What is a Halloween murder mystery party?
Image: Haunted mansion murder mystery party
Murder Mystery Parties are interactive themed events that involve guests solving a crime, fictitious murder, or theft. These parties typically involve six or more guests, and the objective of the partygoers is to figure out the perpetrator or murderer. Murder mystery games also include intriguing character subplots, like thievery, secret affairs, money trouble, and hidden agendas.
And don't forget that a virtual murder mystery party can be the perfect way to celebrate Halloween remotely with friends and family. If hosting your Halloween murder mystery party IRL isn't an option, we included tips and tricks to hosting virtual murder mystery parties.
Bonus: learn more about what makes a murder mystery game.
1. Choose Virtual or IRL murder mystery party game
Image: Monster mash murder mystery party
Firstly, decide whether you will host an interactive, live-action Halloween murder mystery party or a virtual Halloween murder mystery game. There are various types to suit you and your guests.
Choose the best type of murder mystery for your Halloween party:
- Scripted or turn-based murder mystery games where all players receive scripts from reading and are prompted with staged questions.
- Interactive Murder Mystery games provide players with details of their characters before or at the game's start and solve the mystery through interacting with other characters.
- Dinner Theatre Murder Mystery games are professionally catered troupe of actors with live staging and interaction with the audience at a venue.
- Flexi Murder Mystery games are games where the murderer is chosen randomly at the start of the game, usually by drawing a guilty card in secret.
- Digital/virtual murder mystery games are played on virtual hosting platforms such as Zoom or Discord, which are interactive, scripted, or Flexi.
Murder mysteries are fun for your guests, whether you choose to do a murder mystery dinner party or play together online from the comfort of your home. You can adapt most murder mystery game kits for digital or IRL play. And with various themes to choose from for your Halloween murder mystery party. The kits contain all the basics to run the game, including character lists, instructions/video instructions, and party details suggestions.
Bonus: If you want to take your event online, learn how to host a virtual murder mystery party
2. Choose a murder mystery theme
Image: Harry Potter-themed murder mystery party
You can host any number of themed murder mystery parties, and you don't have to limit yourself to monster or ghost themes. You can choose a 1920's jazz club, a pirate ship, or a masquerade ball. It's up to you and your guests!
If you instead do not choose a specific genre, keep it simple as a Haunted house Halloween party murder mystery! Your guests dress in traditional Halloween costumes, which is so much fun. And don't forget, a virtual Halloween party also benefits from a mystery party theme. Never underestimate the power of fancy dress!
Some popular Halloween murder mystery dinner party themes right now are:
- Monster mash
- Vampire ball
- Haunted Asylum
- Masquerade ball
- Haunted Mansion
- Harry Potter
- Rocky Horror Show
- Roaring 1920's
- The Wild West
- Sherlock Holmes
3. Send Invitations
Image: Monster Mansion Murder Mystery party game
Make a guest list. Getting guests to RSVP to your murder mystery party as early as possible is a must. Know your participants to plan character assignments for the murder mystery game early. Typically, a murder mystery game requires six or more people, so confirming the guest list is essential to the game. We recommend sending invitations a minimum of two weeks in advance to allow sufficient planning. Ensure to include everything your guests need to know, including theme, costume requirement, and expectations.
Create invitations that match the party theme. You can use paper or e-invite. Some murder mystery game kits contain invitation templates. Nonetheless, ensure your guests have an easy way to RSVP. You'll closely track RSVPs to ensure you have enough people for the game to work.
4. Assign character roles
Image: Vampire murder mystery party games
Your guest list will also set the tone of your party. Extroverts will play up your dramatic character, while introverts will enjoy roles that don't take center stage and give them the freedom to sleuth. Ensure you know which roles will suit which friends or family members.
If you have more guests than characters or some who sustain from gameplay, you can assign bystanders or audience members non-participant roles that allow them to dress up and mingle but not play the game. You may want to give these individuals roles to help with prize award giving. However, our experience is that even the shyest people will enjoy a murder mystery game.
You can assign characters;
- in advance and send out character information with the invitation, or
- wait for your RSVPs and then assign roles.
We recommend finalizing your guest list before assigning roles. When you assign a role, include costume suggestions to make or break the illusion of the theme. Ensure characters know their roles and costume suggestions in advance, which is why you need at least two weeks to plan.
5. Decide on an event space
Image: Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery Dinner Party
Choose a venue suitable for your guest list. Unless you're hosting a large-scale game or murder mystery dinner theater show, your home will usually be the best venue. You may want to use multiple rooms for the game to facilitate private discussion amongst guests in character. If you have a small group placing multiple smaller tables around the room also gives your guests opportunities to have private conversations while in character. If you want to avoid large clean up, you can use party venues. Take inspiration from your theme, and rent out a space to convert into an asylum, cocktail bar, vampire den, or mansion to set the scene.
6. Plan your Halloween party menu
Image: Halloween murder mystery food spread
Are you planning on serving dinner? How about snacks or drinks? These games take several hours, so providing sustenance is a must. Some people choose to do a murder mystery dinner party as a formal sit down, especially popular in murder mystery theatre and performances. However, planning a murder mystery game and cooking a three-course meal is difficult to pull off. If you have the budget, consider catering for the party, which allows you to focus on the party.
We recommend finger foods and hors d'oeuvres that encourage your guests to mingle. Multiple designated snack areas encourage your guests to conjugate in different areas around your party space and give you more options for decorations. Ensure your menu reflects the Halloween theme for the evening.
If you're planning a virtual murder mystery party, get creative with a menu! Snack breaks are a must, so encourage your participants to make Halloween treats and snacks in advance to bring to the video call.
7. Decide on drinks
Image: Halloween party cocktails
You may wish to include a signature cocktail or mocktail for your murder mystery party. Mocktails and cocktails add decorations and flare to your event, offering interludes between game rounds. If your budget permits or you prefer a more comprehensive selection of beverages or elaborate Halloween mixtures, hire a professional bartender or mixologist. You may also opt for a simple BYOB approach or stock your fridge with pre-mixed or bottled beverages. This ensures cleanliness and cuts back on cleaning at the night's end.
If you're planning a virtual murder mystery party, get creative with drinks! There is no reason why your participants can't win up a fancy Halloween treat of their own at home. Consider sending your guests a signature cocktail or drink list with instructions and ingredient lists.
Read: 9 Spooky Cocktails & Mocktails for Halloween
8. Decorate party space
Image: Halloween murder mystery dinner party
Decorations allow you to set the mood of your Halloween murder mystery party theme. Transform your room into a haunted mansion, asylum, or vampire den. Be as elaborate or as simple as you'd like— remember, a bit of imagination goes a long way when the game is afoot.
Some easy decoration ideas include:
- Fake cobwebs
- Floating candles, lanterns, and fairy lights
- Skeletons, tombstones, bats, brooms, and black cats
- Classic pumpkin art
- Bottled potions, cauldrons
- Anything black!
Consider using center pieces and Halloween place settings if you plan to have tables for your dinner party. Multiple smaller tables also allow your guests to have private conversations while in character.
As a Zoom murder mystery party host, you can add spooky ambiance and thematics with Halloween Zoom backgrounds.
9. Create Halloween music playlist
Set the ambiance with your spooky Halloween playlist. YouTube, Amazon Music, Spotify, or other streaming services are an easy way to play music at your Halloween party. Consider creating a playlist ahead of time. Ensure your music fits your party theme: 20s jazz, 80s Pop, or spooky Halloween-themed music; ensure your playlist lasts the entire night - or at least until the murderer is revealed! Murder Mystery kits may include video clues and sound effects, so ensure that these do not interfere with the party music.
10. Play the game
Plan your night
Party prep also includes planning the structure for the evening to move the game forward. If planning a dinner party, ensure you schedule mealtimes between rounds. You may wish to serve food at the beginning of the evening, then start the game. Or, you can include snack and drink breaks between the rounds. For murder mystery kits usually provide guidelines and recommendations for beginning rounds, new clues, and game elements.
At the end of the game, leave some time to allow people to debrief and explain their theories or game perspective. So much can happen between guests and secret story plots, so the "wrap-up" should be included in your game structure.
Make name tags
Part of the fun of murder mystery parties is acting in character, but it's not always easy to remember all your guests' names—especially if you have many guests. Name tags allow your guests to stay in character throughout the night. Prepare the name tags in advance.
Layout the rules
Before the game starts, you'll want to inform your guests of all the game rules and other information. Sending out a secondary invite or reminder as a guide to your night is recommended, and it would include:
- Character information booklet
- Costume suggestions
- Clue cards
- Gameplay, schedule, and rules
- How your players can win
- A guide to how long the game will last
To ensure you can run the game properly, reiterate these rules at the start of the night and give a rough guide as to when you expect the game to end.
Bonus: We've got 10 tips for first-time murder mystery hosts
11. Award murder mystery prizes
Image: Halloween monster-themed murder mystery party
Once the game is over, continue the fun by sharing game secrets, character bios, and secret clues with the group. It clues your guests to the inner working of the game they may have missed. Prizes are also a great way to bookend your party with prizes for the best detective murderer performance or best costume. Affordable party prizes, awards, or ribbons are easy to find at dollar stores.
Bonus: We've got extra tips for other fun mystery game prizes and awards
To host the best Halloween Murder Mystery party, see our Murder Mystery Game Kits for friends and family. Our murder mystery kits include fun characters; video story plots other resources that make hosting more fun. For other Halloween murder mystery dinner party ideas, check out our blog with event ideas and resources to host a murder mystery party.