WHERE DO I EVEN START?! From the moment I started planning this party I was pretty sure it would be really spectacular (although I am pretty sure 97.6% of my guests thought I was absolutely nuts, thank goodness for my boyfriend who fully supports my insane and spur of the moment ideas). From the screams coming out of the “ballroom” restroom after Irina discovered our unsuspecting guest DEAD on the floor, to the candles oozing and bleeding onto our tables, the smoke seeping quietly along the wood floors, the murder weapon protruding out of the cake filled with murder clues, the cobwebs weeping from the stairwells, the bartender refilling glass after glass, the DJ playing every song to the mood, the yelling and accusations of all the guests, the masks cloaking everyone’s true identities, there was not a stone left unturned.
I had quite a few doubts before the party – would the guests really get into it? Would everyone actually have a good time, or would it seem corny? But from the moment everyone arrived, they grabbed their first clue, read it hastily, memorized the gossip they were to spread around, and got so into it, you would never have guessed in a million years the insane accusations they were all making against each other weren’t true! The key to these murder mystery dinner parties I have learned, is to set the backdrop so perfectly, so haunted, yet so welcoming, that the guests are able to fall right into their characters and really get into the theme. I have to give it up for all my friends that came – they made it truly unforgettable!
Since this is a DIY post, and I just have to share this with anyone and everyone who wants to read, I am going to tell you how to throw the perfect murder mystery dinner party for all your friends, or even people you don’t know that well. That was the beauty of this party – you really don’t even have to know anyone. The characters are forced to interact with each other to spread the “gossip”, and everyone gets to laugh and know each other without any discomfort at all. It’s so awesome! (Side note – the murderer ended up being the only person at the party who didn’t know anyone, the date of one of my friends – and she ended up having an amazing time and killing it!!!!!!).
First, I started off by thinking of the appropriate decorations for a ballroom style murder mystery theme. To make it easier, I am going to list the stores I went to, and everything that I bought:
THE GAME – www.MyMysteryParty.com – they have a TON of themes and different parties to choose from.
Michael’s – Black candelabra, burlap table runner, black river pebbles, green moss, black candle, fake skulls, skull candles, fake cobwebs, 3 tiny baskets for the different rounds of clues, and 3 tiny chalkboards to label which round the clues were for. (You can always buy some of this stuff way before Halloween or post to get them on clearance)
Office Depot – 3 different colored envelopes for the 3 rounds of clues (Important!), name tag clips, one hole punch.
Amazon – Black and white bleeding candles.
Ebay – Skull from African Impala for the table. (Never underestimate the weirdness of items you can find on eBay… have fun with it…)
Ace Restaurant Supply – Plastic stem-less wine glasses, plastic champagne glasses, plastic drink cups, black table cloths, red napkins, plastic silverware, plastic plates, 3 glass milk jugs for water. (Be sure to use all plastic at this party, it makes cleanup a gazillion times easier).
Etsy – Masquerade masks. (I tried getting more on etsy but you really need to plan ahead for this route, many items take longer to ship/make).
Food – Mexican food is a nice option to save a little money, fajitas for 20. Or, another fun idea is to do potluck if you want to do this a little cheaper, and have everyone bring a dish according to your theme!
Optional Items I found useful – Laminator – I laminated all of the clues which I found was invaluable for several reasons: there were a lot of drinks, queso, food, accidents… this kept the clues from getting ruined. Also, they were ten times easier to keep track of as opposed to flimsy sheets of paper. If I ever threw this party again there is ZERO chance I WOULD NOT laminate the clues again – I repeat, invaluable!
Things I went a little over the top on, but they were oh so awesome –
– DJ HONEY B – HOLY COW – If you are In the Houston area and ever need a DJ, this is your girl. She was so incredible, she was spinning awesome hip hop mixes, mostly old school, some newer. She did a great job at reading the room, and turning the decibel level down for moments where everyone needed to hear each other. She really set the mood for the entire evening. I am absolutely convinced she was a necessity to the party.
– Zeapod Cakery – Words cannot express the extreme awesomeness of this cake. I pretty much gave them zero direction as far as what I wanted, just indicating it was a murder mystery dinner party and to make something creepy, and this is the masterpiece they came up with. Seriously, these guys are some of the most incredible talented artists I have ever come across, and very reasonably priced if I might add. If you are ever in the vicinity of the Houston area, you MUST look them up. Artists – I can’t think of any other accurate word to describe their talent and creativity.
– Lighting, Dry Ice, and a star machine – the only person I can thank for bringing, setting up, and maintaining all of this before and during the party is my friend Eli. When he gets something into his head, it is just going to happen. It doesn’t matter how difficult it will be, it is going to happen. He and his wife came over early that morning and started setting up lighting around the house, bought dry ice and kept it going with my sous vide, and set up sheets with the star machine behind – incredible is not even the word I would use to describe it!
I throw a few parties a year, so what I do is save ALL of these things once the party is done – I wrap up the table runner (and just wipe off the crumbs of food), bag up the river pebbles, bag the moss, the cobweb, basically anything and everything including half burned candles – and use for my next party. It is a great way to save money, AND all of the décor keeps adding up for an even better party the next time.
The process I went through setting up the clues: First I printed, laminated, cut, and then placed all of the clues in different colored envelopes according to rounds. Then, I made sure all the name cards were laminated, cut, and tagged with a clip, and placed them in the entry way for guests to put on as they arrived. I then instructed everyone when to pick up each clue and what to do with them. IMPORTANT: The directions of the party can get a bit overwhelming, so it is extremely important to make sure you read the instructions VERY carefully, and explain it as clearly as you can to everyone. If I had the evening to do over again, I would have actually emailed everyone their first clue the day before – the first clue is a bit lengthy – this way everyone could have read it through before the party, rather than stressing when they got there about memorizing. Either way, it worked out really well, it just took people a few minutes to read once they arrived.
This really was one of the coolest parties ever, (if I do say so myself), and I highly recommend it for EVERYONE! If you have any questions about throwing one PLEASE shoot me an email and I would be more than happy to give you advice!!
HUGE thank you to all my guests. You guys were beyond incredible for all of your effort (Albert (best boyfriend on the planet), Natalie, Eli, Ellen, Beeby) – who set up literally everything with me beginning at 8 am that morning – who could even wish for better friends? And everyone else who came in character!!!!!! Somehow at the end of the night it sort of turned into an awesome puppet show/dance party…. I would expect nothing better out of my friends :)!