How to Host a Murder Mystery Party Just in Time for Halloween

Are you ready to learn how to host a murder mystery party? Everyone loves to dig into a fun whodunnit type of story. There’s something incredibly exciting about seeing a problem, digging up clues, and putting the pieces together to solve the case. Whether we indulge in these sorts of mysteries by watching movies, reading books, listening to podcasts, or even hearing about the adventures in other people’s lives, there’s one place everyone can take a crack at it:

A murder mystery party.

These get-togethers can be an excellent party for any group of people, be it coworkers, family, a club, or even people who enjoy roleplaying. After all, what’s not to love about getting to put on your acting hat, pretending to be someone else for an evening, and getting to star in your detective role? Similarly, what could be a better choice for the Halloween season?

If that sounds like an excellent idea to you, there’s no better time to get started on the planning than now. But where do you learn how to host a murder mystery party? By reading our guide below!

Decide on Your Guests

escp europe london campus' halloween party

Image via flickr

While we’re talking about how to host a murder mystery party, we can’t forget about the guests. You can’t have a murder mystery party without any guests! Ideally, your invitation pool will include people who like to roleplay a little or don’t mind putting themselves out there to interact with others.

The guests you invite will decide several things, such as the tone of the party (friends vs. coworkers vs. family), the space you need, and how many players your game can accommodate. Like other parties, your guest list can also determine when you should schedule it for, so you can optimize your players.

Pick a Theme!

lights! camera! murder

Image via flickr

While the idea of a murder mystery party may bring to mind specific images (dinner theater anyone?), you can actually enjoy a variety of different themes. From classic murder mysteries to fantasy settings to sci-fi to the Old West, you have no shortage of choices. Your guest list will come in handy here, as you can pick a theme that your guests will enjoy playing.

At this stage, it’s also helpful to determine if you want your party to be dinner based or just a free for all in the evening. This decision will determine your layout later on, and it’s an essential part of how to host a murder mystery party.

If you’re uncertain about what themes you can go with, never fear! You can find numerous companies that sell murder mystery kits across different genres—which brings us into our next step!

Choose Your Story

murder mystery party

Image via flickr

We’ve mentioned murder mystery kits just above, so let’s talk a little bit more about them here. These kits essentially have everything you need to tell your story. They include the premise, character information, the identity of the murderer, possible scenes to help pace the party, and the clues your guests will need to solve the case.

Alternatively, you can take a crack at writing the story yourself! Building a concept from scratch can be a bit of a challenge. You’ll need to ensure there are enough clues to figure out who the culprit is without making it glaringly obvious and ending the game early.

There’s no one right way to choose your story. Kits are perfect for people who want time to plan the other aspects while writing the game on your own can be a fun and creative outlet. Plus it lets you customize the story for your guests!

Assigning Characters

murder mystery theme

Image via flickr

Once you have your story and your guest list settled, you’ll want to think about casting the “roles” of the mystery. There are plenty of ways you can go about this, such as:

  • Picking out characters that match the personalities of your guests, so it’s easy for them to play their role
  • Giving your guests characters with opposing personalities to challenge them
  • Letting your guests pick out the characters they’re interested in playing

While you can finalize the cast list close to the party date, stay aware that this is a task you’ll need to do to make your party successful!

Choosing a Location

murder mystery gang

Image via flickr

You can’t have a party without a venue. When selecting your location, think about how many players you’ll have, if you need extra space for food, and what your party budget can afford to rent out if necessary.

Even with small guest counts, people should have enough room to confer in private discussions without revealing their hand to everyone in the room. Locations that match the theme of the party can also add to the atmosphere!

So long as you plan it right, any location can host a murder mystery. It could be your home, outdoors, or a recreation hall—though you might earn bonus points if you can rent a haunted mansion for the evening.

Planning Decorations

decorations

Image via flickr

Even if your location doesn’t match up entirely with your theme, there’s no reason to fret! Some decorations and a bit of imagination can go a long way when the game is afoot. Some considerations to make when planning your decorations are:

  • Your budget
  • The theme of your party
  • What you’re allowed to do if you’re renting a place
  • How much time you’ll need to set up/tear down before and after the party
  • Any props or clues needed for the mystery

If you plan to have tables, several smaller ones are better than one large one to provide your guests with some places to have private conversations while in character.

Planning the Menu

cake on table

Image via flickr

Are you planning on serving dinner at your party? How about snacks or drinks? Murder mysteries can take several hours depending on the players, so some refreshments are usually excellent to have around. Having designated areas for food will give your guests a chance to encounter each other while in character as well!

If you have a kit which has a story focused around different phases where new clues enter the game, you can split up your food in courses, such as cocktail hour, dinner, dessert, etc. Keeping track of your guest list and RSVPs will ensure you have enough food prepared for everyone.

Sending Invitations

invitations

Image via flickr

No murder mystery party would be complete without invitations! As with any other party invite, you’ll need to have the essentials on it: the date, time, and location, as well as a way to RSVP and other essential details.

The invitation is the prime place to note if you’ll have a dress code for the party. People can have a lot of fun if they dress in character, but, for other groups, it can be a lot of pressure. Pick what’s best for your guests, and dressing up can be a lot of fun if you host your murder mystery around Halloween!

Make Name Tags

four markers on table

Image via Unsplash

Acting in character is some of the enjoyment of murder mysteries, but it’s not always easy to remember all the character names—especially if you have a lot of guests. Name tags are essential for your guests to have. So you should prepare them in advance. The style you decide to go with can complement your party, or it can just be convenient to make.

Plan Your Timetable

person holding blue ballpoint pen writing in notebook

Image via pexels

Having a structure for the evening will help the game move forward. If your party is going to be in a rented area or paired along with mealtimes, having a schedule is essential. For murder mystery kits that have mealtimes in mind, there is usually a recommendation of when to introduce new clues, break for eating, and bring in new elements of the game.

At the end of the evening, it’s always fun to have a time where everyone explains what happened during the game from their perspective. Plenty of events can occur while guests are busy doing other things, so this “wrap up” at the end is a recommended part of your timetable!

Laying Out the Rules

As the party approaches, you’ll also want to lay out the rules so all your guests can learn them. Your guides can include many different aspects. But some important ones to consider are:

  • How players can win
  • If there is any dress code
  • “Combat” systems (for games that have them)
  • Who are hosts that can help with game questions
  • What areas are off limits (especially if you are renting a location)

To ensure you can run the game properly, you should also use the time when planning the rules to review the game scenario, understand everyone’s characters, and know who the murder is.

Prepare to Host

grayscale and depth of field photography of clown

Image via Unsplash

Once you have all the preparation work done, you should get yourself ready to be a host. (If you find yourself interested in playing, you might want to see if someone will feel interested in hosting for you!) When guests arrive, you should be there to pass out nametags, acquaint guests with each other, and explain the rules once everyone comes.

As the game goes on, your role as the host will be to check on players, serve food if you have it, and introduce the new phases of the game as they happen. Don’t be afraid to review your timetable and bring everyone together as you need to move the game along. From there, your job is to have fun with everyone else!

Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve made it to the end of our guide, you now know how to host a murder mystery party! The earlier you start planning, the better, so don’t be afraid to get started!

1 reply
  1. Elisabeth Southgate
    Elisabeth Southgate says:

    Thank you for sharing your tips on how to host a murder party. I like how you said that the first thing to do is pick a theme. My brother was recently telling me that there are games you can buy that will help you plan one as well.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *