Planning your murder mystery party

We find that the more time spent planning and preparing for a murder mystery party, the more fun that you and your guests will have. It is therefore worth spending time planning your party, and this guide is designed to help you do just that.

"Thank you again for responding to all my questions – you guys certainly know how to treat your customers – thank you!"
Laura Blakley, United Kingdom

(Some of our customers have hosted very successful parties at very short notice. However, we really don't recommend that as we prefer a less stressful life!)

Here, then, is our recommended timetable.

6 weeks before

Have a look round our site and decide which game appeals to you. Once you have chosen a game we recommend that you buy it now rather than leave it to the last minute so that you have time to read and understand it.

You need to think about several different things when selecting a game, including:

Number of guests: You need to know how many guests you are expecting, as you will be creating a lot of work for yourself if, for example, you try to play Way out West with 30 guests. (That's not to say it can't be done, but as we've written Way out West for a maximum of 14 guests, you will have to add the extra yourself.)

We have written our games to be as flexible as possible as far as numbers of guests are concerned, but you should have an idea of the number of guests that you're expecting before you start. Incidentally, we like to run our games as full as possible as we think they are more fun that way.

If you do need more, you can add free extra character, to most of our games. (Click here for details about them.)

Kids: Think about how many children you will have playing as some of our games include themes and roles that aren't always suitable for younger children. Click here for more details about kids and our murder mystery games.

You also need to think about the venue for your party. Do you already have somewhere in mind, or do you need to start looking? The only critical requirement for a venue is to ensure that it has enough space for your guests to mingle. We've run our games in our homes and they work fine in such spaces as well as village or church halls.

One month before

Print the entire game out and read the whole thing – including the characters. For this printing, we suggest printing out the game at two sheets to a page (and double-sided if possible) to save paper. Most modern printers allow you to print at two sheets to a page, or you can also use a print utility such as Fineprint.

Set a date, and start inviting guests. Don't start allocating characters to guests at this point, as all you are trying to do is generate interest in your party. You may want to send out the information in the introductory file so that your guests know what to expect. At this point you are simply getting commitment – some won't be able to attend and you need to identify those now, before it's too late.

Some of your guests may start thinking about costumes immediately, so for some individuals you may have to either cast them now, or at least tell them what sort of character they can expect (for example, a ship's officer or first class passenger in Murder at Sea).

Decide whether you are going to decorate your venue to suit your party. You should also think about food – we recommend finger food as that enables guests to mingle and for the party to carry on uninterrupted. If you choose to have a sit-down meal your party will probably take longer.

Where possible we try not to organise both the food and the party – we try to delegate the food to someone else. (One thing that has worked well is for guests to bring different dishes for a buffet – one brings sandwiches, another pizza slices and yet other guest brings chips.)

Two weeks before

Print out everything you need for the game and stuff envelopes. Do this now; we have been printing out and stuffing envelopes a mere two hours before a party before now, but we really don't recommend that as there are usually other things we should be doing then.

Envelope stuffing can take a couple of hours, so we find it best if we do it in front of our favourite movie.

Finalise your guest list. Chase guests that haven't replied to your initial invite.

Start casting to give your guests as long as possible to get their costumes ready. Don't, however, finish casting though as you may need some flexibility with some characters if guests cancel between now and your party.

One week before

Send out the full invites – with the full character information if you are sending that out in advance. (Sending out the full character information in advance is optional, but many of our customers have recommended it. If you do send out character details in advance, don't send the abilities and item cards.) You should also include directions to the venue, for those who don't know where it is.

Finalise the food – or at least check that the food and drink is in hand if other are producing it for you.

Run through the rules with a co-host (if you're using one) or a friend (if you're not). Some of our games include rules for things such as gunfights and motor-racing, and you will find it easier during the party if you have already tried them out. You could get a guest to help you with the rules, but that may give them an advantage when it comes to the party, so pick someone who is unlikely to have much involvement in those particular rules.

On the day

Prepare your venue (move anything delicate out of harm's way, make sure you have enough seating, clear a space for the food and drink).

Then, just follow the instructions that come with the game and have a good party!

And don't forget – tell us all about it!