How to host a Christmas murder mystery dinner party
Want to have a holly, jolly good time this Holiday season? Host a not-so-silent Christmas party for friends, family, or office colleagues with a Christmas murder mystery game kit.
Imagine this! Your guests arrive in festive season costumes - Christmas characters, ugly Christmas sweaters, or Santa's elves. They're greeted with Eggnog and Christmas treats. Christmas carols and laughter fill the room.
Suddenly, a blood-curdling scream rings out above the guests' chatter. Everyone rushes to find a murder! A thief! And one of your partygoers is the killer or culprit, but they are now detectives and sleuths. The game is now afoot!
Murder Mystery Parties are interactive themed events hosted in real life or virtually. These murder mysteries typically involve six or more guests. A Christmas murder mystery party is great fun for a family Christmas Eve event or an office Christmas party.
And remember, you can host a murder mystery game virtually to celebrate Christmas remotely with relatives and friends across the globe. We included tips and tricks for virtual events if you're hosting your own murder mystery game online.
Let us help you throw a Christmas party your family, friends, or colleagues will never forget with a Christmas murder mystery dinner party.
1. Choose your murder mystery game style
Game: Murder on the Polar Express
Firstly, decide if you will host an interactive Christmas murder mystery or a virtual Christmas party. There are various types to suit your Christmas event:
- Interactive Murder Mystery games provide players with character details, clue cards before or at the game's start, and players solve the mystery by interacting with each other.
- Scripted or turn-based murder mystery games are where all players receive a game script and are prompted with staged questions. These games are best for formal sit-down dinners.
- Dinner Theatre Murder Mystery events are professionally catered groups of actors live, staged, and interactive at an event venue.
- Digital murder mystery games are played on virtual hosting platforms such as Zoom or Discord.
Game: A Christmas Crime
Use a murder mystery game kit that contains all the basics to run the game, including character lists, invitations, clue cards, instructions/video instructions, and party detail suggestions.
Bonus: Learn how to host how to host a virtual murder mystery party
2. Choose a Christmas theme
Who said there is only one kind of Christmas murder mystery party theme? There are many Christmas themes, and guests dress in their best Christmas get-ups. And don't forget, themes also apply to a virtual Christmas murder mystery party. Never underestimate the power of fancy dress!
Some of the most popular Christmas party theme suggestions include:
- Santa's North Pole Workshop
- Murder on the Polar Express
- Christmas movie characters
- The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
- Classic Christmas Carol
- Christmas Character Mashup
- Nightmare Before Christmas Party
- A Christmas Masquerade Ball
- Winter Wonderland Christmas Party
- Christmas Around the World Christmas Party
- Candyland / Chocolate Factory Christmas Party
3. Invite your guests
Make a guest list. It's essential to know how many guests will attend your party to assign your character roles ASAP. Creating invitations that match the party theme is a wonderful way to set the tone for the party, either as paper or e-invites. Remember, some game kits contain invitation templates.
Typically, a murder mystery game requires a minimum of six or more people but allows a maximum of twenty or thirty players. We recommend sending invites to your guests a minimum of two weeks in advance. This ensures you give them sufficient time to RSVP and allow your guests to plan costumes. Ensure your guests can easily RSVP and you have an easy way to track your RSVPs.
4. Assign character roles
So, how should you assign characters for a murder mystery game? We recommend waiting until your guest RSVP and then assigning roles. Include costume suggestions alongside the assignment. We recommend setting characters a minimum of two weeks in advance. Thus why, RSVPing becomes so essential.
Carefully assigning characters is essential because it helps set the tone of your Christmas party. Match your roles to your friends or family's- you know them best! We recommend assigning dramatic characters to your more extroverted guests, and introverted guests will enjoy characters that give them more freedom to sleuth out of the spotlight.
Do you have other guests that want to sustain from gameplay? Assign bystanders non-participant roles where they can still dress up and mingle. This will also work for large Christmas office parties. Another option is to give individuals prize-giving parts for competitions.
5. Decide on an event space
Choose a venue suitable for your Christmas Party. Larger office Christmas parties suit larger event spaces. Otherwise, your home will usually be the best venue. Utilize multiple rooms for the game to allow for private discussion amongst guests. Smaller groups benefit from multiple smaller tables around the room to allow for private discussion amongst guests.
6. Plan your Christmas party menu
There is no Christmas without food. Are you planning on serving dinner? Just snacks? Real-life murder mystery games take several hours, so food is essential.
Just remember, hosting an interactive murder mystery game and cooking a three-course meal is challenging. A designated host that is not the head cook makes things a little easier. We also recommend planning your day and Christmas cooking around the game. Remember there are three rounds, so you may want to get the bulk of your Christmas cooking prep completed before you start the game, as you don’t want to get interrupted in character.
Alternatively, you could play after the meal and in between dessert. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have a game plan and try to stick with it. It is all about having fun!
Catering is perfect if you have the budget or for an office party. Finger foods and hors d'oeuvres encourage your guests to mingle- perfect for interactive games. If you utilize smaller tables, you motivate your guests to conjugate and converse with each other - it also makes for ideal snack tables and decoration spaces.
You can still have a menu if you're planning a virtual murder mystery: just get creative! Snack breaks are necessary, so encourage your participants to bring Christmas treats and snacks to the call.
7. Decide on drinks
Thought about having a signature cocktail or mocktail for your Christmas party? Mocktails and cocktails add a mood and festive theme and offer your guests a natural pause between game rounds. If your budget permits, hire a professional bartender or mixologist. A simple BYOB approach or stocking your fridge with pre-mixed or bottled beverages makes cleaning easy at the end of the night.
If you're planning a virtual murder mystery party, get creative with drinks! Consider sending your guests a signature Christmas drink list with ingredient lists and instructions.
8. Decorate your party space
Game: A Christmas Crime Murder Mystery Game
Get into the Christmas mood with decorations. If you are at home with your family at Christmas, why worry about decorating? But perhaps this is your end of year office party?
The key is transforming your room into a Christmas wonderland, Santa's workshop, Polar Express, or another Christmas venue. 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 Christmas-themed ideas include:
- Christmas tree
- Cozy Christmas candles and fairy lights
- Christmas wreath
- Santa stockings
- Christmas crackers
- Christmas baubles
- Christmas cards
- Christmas garlands
- Candy cane and edible treats
- Elf toys
Consider using centerpieces and Christmas place settings if you plan to have tables for your dinner party.
As a virtual murder mystery party host, you can add festive mood Christmas-themed Zoom backgrounds.
9. Make a Christmas Music Playlist
Game: Christmas Mashup Murder Mystery Game
Set the ambiance with Christmas carols, classics, or Xmas pop playlists. Create your playlist ahead of time; ensure your playlist will last the whole party. Use YouTube, Amazon Music, Spotify, or other streaming services as an easy way to play music at your party. Lastly, some murder mysteries include video clues and sound effects, so you may need a separate music-playing device so that you do not interfere with the party music.
10. Play the Christmas murder mystery game
Game: Christmas Mashup Murder
The guests are here. The murderer is clued in! It's time to start playing. Let's leave you with a few extra tips and ideas for gameplay:
- Make name tags for your guests so that they can stay in character the entire game
- Go over the rules and expectations for the night
- Include extra mini-games, including a scavenger hunt, competitions, and raffles
- Allow snack and drink breaks between rounds
- Provide opportunities for people to share their theories
11. Award prizes
Game: A Christmas Crime Murder Mystery Game
Once the game is over, continue the fun by sharing game secrets, character bios, and secret clues with the group. Prizes are also a great way to bookend your Christmas party. Here is a list of prizes and awards you may wish to award:
- Best detective
- Best Murderer
- Best sleuth
- Best costume
- Best performance
You may want to provide your guests with stocking fillers, Christmas-themed treats, candy, or wine. You can get affordable party prizes and mini awards at any dollar store.
Another great idea is awarding a murder mystery party gift cards so that you can re-create the fun another night with another theme.
Bonus: We've got extra tips for other fun mystery game prizes and awards
To host the best Christmas 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 Christmas murder mystery dinner party ideas, check out our blog with event ideas and resources to host a murder mystery party. Happy holidays!