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10 Fabulous Murder Mystery Party Ideas

Murder mystery parties are surging in popularity. They’re perfect for fans of true crime documentaries or the My Favorite Murder podcast, as well as dramatic people who love to be in the spotlight. But how do you go about hosting one? Good question! While you can look to a professional murder mystery planning company, you can also get creative and design your own event yourself. It takes some strategic planning, but the internet is full of party planning resources and instructions. Here are some murder mystery party ideas to get you started.

1. Use Clue as a template

Just about everyone is familiar with the 1949 board game Clue that was later made into a movie in 1985. Follow the plot and instructions of the game for your own murder mystery party. Incorporate costumes by asking everyone to dress as either Colonel Mustard, Mr. Green, Miss Scarlet, Professor Plum, Mrs. Peacock, or Mrs. White (don’t be afraid to gender-bend any of the characters).

Then, gather props for the “murder weapons.” The objects can be silly things like slippers, toilet plungers, squishies, and flowers instead of the actual rope, candlestick, knife, revolver, lead pipe, and monkey wrench used in the game.

2. Set the mood with a killer venue

If you’ve ever wanted to rent a historic building or a mansion, you’re in luck, because Peerspace can make your dreams come true. Choose a venue that fits your murder mystery party ideas and theme, like a home with several rooms for a Clue-themed party, a snazzy bar for a Prohibition Era party, or an art gallery or a theater if those places are the scene of the crime.

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3. Hire actors to make the event come alive

If you and your friends aren’t too keen on acting out the murder mystery story yourselves, you can sit back and enjoy a dinner where the tale unfolds around you. Murder mystery dinner parties are a popular entertainment attraction in many cities, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a company that can put on a show for you. 

4. Pick a theme

Most murder mystery parties stem from a theme. Some popular theme ideas include The Great Gatsby, decades, Tim Burton movies, fairy tales (think of the original fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen — they were pretty dark) and classic horror movies with characters like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, It, and Freddy Krueger.

If you buy a murder mystery game in a box like a traditional board game, you’ll find some pretty strange themes like Christmas murders, Italian restaurant, and BBQ murders. You can build a theme around that by decorating for the holidays or serving a certain type of cuisine. Go the extra mile and throw costumes into the mix, too, for a fully immersive theatrical experience!

5. Serve some sinister cocktails

What’s a party without a little booze? You’ll be dying to try these creative concoctions based on fictional detectives, the mob, and true crime podcasts. If you’re not confident in your ability to whip up these killer cocktails, consider hiring a bartender who can bring a mobile bar to your party. Just communicate with them ahead of time to be sure they can supply all of the mixers and liquor you need to create some chillingly perfect drinks.

6. Buy an online template for instructions 

Setting up your own murder mystery party from scratch takes a lot of work — you are basically an author or playwright creating an entire cast of characters and a plot. Make the party planning easier on yourself by downloading templates from online if you aren’t buying an entire game. That way, you will have a road map guiding you through the party process, and all you have to do is supply the players, drinks, props, venue, and snacks.

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7. Get into character with the perfect playlist

Anyone can tell you that most horror movies wouldn’t be as scary without the score, so apply that same logic to your murder mystery party. Curate an ominous playlist for background music. You can include songs like the Jaws theme, Tim Burton soundtrack hits, or selections from Rolling Stone’s roundup of creepy tunes. The music is the extra detail you need in order to make the event an immersive experience for all of your guests.

8. Serve a grand last supper

In a murder mystery party, one guest is secretly a murderer and everyone else is a victim, so have everyone bring the dish they would eat if they knew it was going to be their last meal. This murder mystery party idea is a little dark, but the entire party is quite morbid. Create a shared Google Doc or a group chat beforehand where everyone can list what they are bringing so that no one brings any duplicate dishes. 

9. Hand out prizes 

For the lucky guest or guests that solve the mystery, consider having some prizes to give out. A copy of the book Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered, a magnifying glass (antique and thrift shops often have some), books on cold cases, or even something silly and Scooby Doo-themed to lighten the mood (because the show is all about mysteries!) would all make excellent prizes. Since the game involves theatrical performances from all guests, you can also give out acting awards in the form of plastic or chocolate Oscar statues.

10. Decorate the scene of the crime

Think of your murder mystery party as a play. Your venue is the stage, so you need to decorate it like it’s a set. Think about what a crime scene might look like. Hang up some caution tape, splatter some fake blood, or decorate based on your chosen theme. Halloween stores should have everything you need, but if it’s not spooky season, party stores and sites like Oriental Trading usually still carry some gory supplies.

No matter what premise you choose for your whodunnit bash, you’ll have a great night of theatrical fun. Everyone will be dying for another invite after you host an event using these murder mystery party ideas.

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