I am a huge advocate for adults continuing to date and party after they have children. It's so easy to set that piece of ourselves aside, especially on holidays like Halloween and do everything just for our kids. Making dating a priority in my own marriage inspired me to start throwing this party every year and it has been a huge hit! It's a wonderful way to gather all of our friends together, eat yummy food and laugh a lot...kid-free.
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This year I found Night of Mystery to sponsor our party and provide the game and it was fantastic! I have never had such a comprehensive kit-it made hosting very easy. They send you a PDF full of the scripts, printables-everything down to name cards for the table and certificates for the winners. Each of their mysteries has it's own website with ideas for the party including menus and costume ideas, making it very easy for your guests as well.
1. Create an Event (or send out invites)
I am a HUGE fan of facebook for organizing parties. It is the easiest way to reach people quickly, send out updates and interact. It also makes keeping track of who is willing to play which parts much easier! I always create the event a month or so in advance because October is always crazy for everyone (especially with children). Night of Mystery also provides an invitation template along with the game that you can send out if you would prefer.
2. Start Planning Food
I have planning food down to a science. I set up a poll asking my guests to bring either an appetizer or dessert (serving the meal in courses is a great way to naturally add transitions in the game) and then all I am worrying about is the main course and I make soups! It is incredibly easy and everyone walks away full and happy and gets to show off their fun halloween appetizers and desserts!
3. Assign Parts
This years mystery had 15 mandatory parts and 20 suggested with an option of more! I typically have 30ish people attend the party and not everyone wants to play a part so I try to look for mysteries that have less parts than I have people. This is just how I choose to do it-because I throw my party for halloween and the majority dress in a halloween costume and not as their part it works. If I was throwing this party for another occasion, I would still want everyone in costume to go with the theme and assigning everyone parts would work with that. Every year I always have a few couples fall through due to sick kids/babysitters falling through/etc so I'm always glad I can give out parts to extra guests if I need to! I loved the scripts/parts this year because they were all very low-key and didn't require a lot of reading for the actors.
I like to read the entire mystery top to bottom before the party. I'm always too busy during the party to actually play, so I don't mind knowing everything so I can help facilitate the game. The mystery this time was awesome because one of the characters naturally keeps the party moving and is in charge of the investigation so it was the perfect roll for the host to play. I paper-clipped everyone's description of their roles, their initial information, and envelope with additional information to be opened mid-way through and their name tags so I could easily hand these out as people arrived. For all of the guests I printed money (for bribing and blackmail...so fun!) and a sheet with the list of characters for everyone to take notes on. The murder mystery kit also included "Who Dunnit" cards for everyone to fill out at the end.
I love doing a murder mystery for Halloween because it lends to very easy decorating. Over the years I've acquired centerpieces, I always want to buy lots of pumpkins anyway and it works out fantastic. This murder mystery included family trees and copies of the character list so I put them in dollar store frames and added them to my tables. It also had numbers for laying out the evidence, place cards, and photo props!
The tarantulas crawling all over the character list was a huge hit!
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6. Party Time!
I love setting up a backdrop and taking pictures as guest arrive. The last 2 years I have taken polaroids of every couple and I love seeing them hanging on my friends refrigerators when I'm visiting. For many of them, it's the first picture they've had of them as a couple, dressed up for Halloween since having children. We also take cell phone pics so we can share everything!
After pictures I hand out all of the parts for characters to review, everyone puts on name-tags and we start appetizers. As the host (and for this one, investigating officer) I started the party out introducing everyone and we all began our first set of objectives.
The party kit included a timeline that worked perfectly with serving courses potluck style, giving guest an opportunity to get up and mingle with each other. Appetizers were a great way for people to get familiar with the characters and between courses we read the will and moved on with the second part of the party by mid-dinner. I mapped all of this out on the timeline beforehand so things would flow easily during the party. By the end of dinner most everyone had the chance to talk to characters, exchange bribes/blackmail each other and everyone filled out their "Who Dunnit's" as we started dessert. That gave me a chance to sit down and review all of their worksheets to see who had won!
8. Select Your Winners
I loved how the kit included certificates for the winners. We did Best Costume, Winner of the Mystery and Moneybags and I included a box of Pumpkin Spice Cereal as a prize. It was hard choosing winners this year because we had several guess the winner so I always have everyone write down all of the details and whoever has the most detail that aligns with the motives of the winner gets the prize!
Overall, this years party was a huge success and everyone had an awesome time! I love doing this for Halloween, but a murder mystery is also a fantastic idea for New Years, Valentines or really just a fun event all by itself! Thanks again to Night of Mystery for sponsoring this fun event!!
Have you ever hosted a Murder Mystery? Any Suggestions? What questions do you have? Comment Below!
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