Monday, October 2, 2017

Hosting a Murder Mystery Party

Halloween is a wonderful time to throw a Murder Mystery  Party. Kerry just threw a great one, with a little help from Lorraine Masonheimer, a member from her book group Crime & Beyond.  Let's see what happened at the Murder at the Masquerade Ball.

Mystery fans have been hosting Murder Mystery parties for years. According to Wikipedia, these parties have been going on since 1935. Over the years very little has changed in the concept of the event. A group of people gets together to solve a murder. All of the guests are suspects and one will be revealed as the killer.

The details of the game can vary slightly. Some parties begin with the death of a named victim, but none of the guests play that part. Other parties contain several murders and a handful of the party guests will be killed off during play. Some parties are played entirely at the dinner table and guests have lines that they read, each line giving away clues to the killer’s identity. By the time the meal is finished, the killer is unmasked. Other games are more of a mix and mingle event where suspects have clues that they are to share and some to hide—unless asked about them directly—from the other players.

Some of the first murder mystery parties I hosted came as a game in a box. Inside were all of the invitations, clues, character outlines, and even a cassette tape (yes, a cassette) with the announcement of the murder. These games were great but tended to only accommodate 8-10 players.

As cassette tapes have been phased out, so have most of the boxed versions of the parties. We now rely on online companies to provide everything needed for play. One of my favorites is Shot in the Dark Mysteries. The company has a huge amount of themes to choose from, including parties geared toward a younger crowd. You simply choose your theme and purchase the game based on the number of male and female parts you need to accommodate your guest list. Everything you need to put on a great party is then available for download. You are even provided with name tags for each guest that you can print from home.

You can embellish the game with props relating to the mystery, decorate your home to match the location of the murder, and even create special cocktails for the event.

The Shot in the Dark games are the mix and mingle type and characters walk around and interview others, trying to pull out relevant information as to alibi and motive. It works best as a cocktail party setting with appetizers and drinks rather than a sit-down meal. My most recent party was a Masquerade Ball theme and the costumes were spectacular.

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