Host a Murder Mystery Dinner Party

Although October seems to be a great month to host a Murder Mystery Dinner Party with Halloween on the horizon, you could really host one at any point! This past weekend I hosted one at my home for a group of our friends and it was such a hit, I thought I’d share photos and answer a bunch of questions I’ve received on Instagram. Consider this your big “how-to” post for Murder Mystery parties!

The Plan

First, you need to make a plan for your evening including the venue, guest list, and overall vision for the flow of the event. Initially, I had planned to host this at McAlister-Leftwich House but we had a wedding that day so we decided to have it at our (new) home! McAlister-Leftwich would have most certainly given us more of the 1920s vibes, but it was nice to have it where we live since we have four small children we also have to care for in the midst of party planning and throwing.

For our guest list, we invited 16 people (8 couples – not counting Clay and I). It was simple for us to pick a group of friends because everyone we invited is in our Community Group at our church, Mercy Hill. Out of the 16 invited, 12 could come, and Clay and I made 14. It was the perfect size for having a dinner and party combo, although you could definitely invite more. I personally would forgo the dinner with a larger group, but if you’re braver than I am, have at it!

Finally, the overall vision really shaped up when we realized we would be having the party at home. I’ve always wanted to use our porch for a more formal dining, so we went all out with linens, chairs, candles, china, place cards (beautifully done by my friend Amber!). We had food in the Dining Room buffet-style, drink stations including 1920s cocktails, warm apple cider, and wine in the Kitchen, a “speak easy” for the bourbon in the Study, and we played the actual game in the Family Room. The flow was perfect and the timing of the whole event was great!

The Timeline

I find it helpful to see the timing of other people’s events, so I’m sharing how ours went!

6:30 – Guests arrive, get drinks

7:15 – Group photo, guests find seat and take plates to dining room to get food

8:00 – Game Host explains the beginning of the game, guests grab another drink and head to Family Room

8:15 – Game play

9:30 – Game ends, more group photos taken and drinks poured

9:45-12:00 – Guests trickle out

The Place Settings

Setting the table is easily my favorite thing to do for any party. For this, I used some heirloom family china that will be my daughter’s one day, napkins from World Market, assorted crystal candles I’ve collected over the years, and beautiful place cards by Amber that I added a wax seal to with a tiny leaf branch from my yard. I also grabbed some roses and spray roses from Trader Joe’s to make simple arrangements for around the house!

The Food

Admittedly, I’m not much of a cook. So when I decided to host a dinner, we opted to do a Potluck where we provided the main dish (Lemon Caper Chicken Thighs) and bread, and everyone brought a side or dessert. I didn’t assign specifics (like one vegetable, one starch, etc), and it worked out well. I generally knew what people were bringing so we could all coordinate to make sure we had everything covered. Next time, I plan to make a few additional sides to go along with what everyone is bringing for a little more variety.

The Drinks

We had three cocktail stations set up in the kitchen for our 1920s themed bar. We chose the Old Fashion, French 75, and Gin Rickey to serve. We also had a wine station, a hot apple cider station (which was a hit with my pregnant friends and later at night when people mixed bourbon with it!), and the bourbon was served from Clay’s collection in the Study.

The Game

There are tons of Murder Mystery games online that you can purchase to play! The one we chose happened to be a 1920s theme, which was intentional on my part because I loved the idea of dressing up. Our friends did a killer job (no pun intended) dressing the part and it was definitely 100% more fun because everyone got into it with costumes, voices, etc. Truly, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard in a long, long time!

This is the specific game we purchased. Generally, you purchase them based on the amount of guests you’re anticipating, so you do need to determine your guest count before purchasing. From there, the game will tell you everything you need to know including what info you share with guests prior to the party (like their character names/descriptions and costume ideas), and what needs to wait until the party. One person will need to be the game host (Clay was ours), so take that into account. Also, we played ours in a round table fashion where we all sat in the room and listened, but you could also play where people mingle and guests ask one another questions individually. That would certainly take longer, but Clay and I agreed that would be a fun option if we do this again without the dinner portion, which would allow more time for the game.

I’m going to hop on my soapbox for a minute…

I know taking the time to plan and execute these types of parties can feel overwhelming. But I’m going to urge you to host the parties and invite your people. It will bless you greatly, I promise. And the cool thing is, it will bless those you invite, too. For me, it’s in my wheelhouse, but you might not think it is. Why don’t you do it anyway? Why don’t you pick a one – or a few – things that you want to invest your time and energy into (like a beautiful table, cool drinks, and/or fun decor), and just do those things? You don’t have to do it all for it to be extremely special. You don’t have to be a party planner to make people feel loved. You don’t have to have hours and hours to come up with unique ideas. But do it anyway. Whether it’s small or grand, simple or elaborate. Do it anyway. It will get easier the more you host, and your friendships will get deeper the more you spend time with people you love.

*Steps off soapbox.*

If you have a question about our evening, let me know!

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