At this year’s TEDxUniversityofNevada event, David Burkus brought up John Levy’s ‘Influencers Dinner’ – a secret dining experience attended by twelve thought leaders, tastemakers, and/or influencers from various industries. During this experience they are not allowed to discuss their professional career or share their last name. Once seated and eating guests take turns guessing what their fellow attendees do professionally.
This idea inspired us to throw a dinner party of our own – one where we wouldn’t inevitably talk about work the entire time. Enter the murder mystery party. DUN. DUN. DUN.
After researching several murder mystery game options, I selected “Grillin’, Chillin’, and Killin’’” – a summer fun block party themed murder mystery party – from MyMysteryParty.com.
My first task as host was to assign characters. I did my best to assign my guests compatible roles (hoping that this would prompt them to really embrace their roles). For example, one of my coworkers is very fashionable so I assigned her the fashion designer character.
Next, I invited my guests using the free, printable invitation provided by MyMysteryParty.com.
I also encouraged my guests to view the “Your Mystery Party” guest pre-game website to get them excited about the game. The “Your Mystery Party” pre-game guest site includes a synopsis of the mystery, a game trailer video, the list of characters, costume suggestions, etc. I wanted my guests to get familiar with their character role, other characters, and with the premise of the mystery before the party.
Approximately one week before the party, I gave the pre-game clues to each guest. I wrote guests’ contact information on the cards before handing them out, so guests would be able to contact each other. The pre-game tasks are completely optional and the exclusion of them in no way will affect the mystery. These tasks are not necessary to solve the mystery. They are intended to enhance the buildup for the event. And generate excitement (and some laughs) is exactly what they did … one of my guests forgot to give her partner his pre-game clues so he was quite confused when he received numerous text messages addressed to Sam (not his name) about his comedy routine (not his line of work).
To start the game, I passed out the round one clue cards. This round the characters mingled and got acquainted with each other, and the plot unfolded as the characters talked about things they were instructed to discuss. Motives for the murder started to unfold during this round.
Pre-Murder Round Two:
To begin round two, I handed out the round two clue cards to my guests. The information was divided into pre- and post- murder segments on the round two cards. Over the next 15-20 minutes, guests socialized while discussing their pre-murder clues with the other players. The motives became very clear this round.
The victim was instructed on their clue card to become the victim about 15-20 minutes after the round started (after the pre-murder clues had been implemented). The victim reveal was quite hilarious … nobody caught on that the player left the room to become the victim, we were all confused as to why he had been in the restroom so long. Clearly, we were oblivious to who was about to kick the bucket, despite everyone in the room having a motive to kill that character!
Post-Murder Round Two:
A second character was instructed via their round two clue card to leave the party area to discover the victim. This added to the hilariousness of the victim reveal – this player did not read her post-murder clues, so she did not realize she was supposed to discover the victim. Ooops.
I then used crime scene tape and a body silhouette mat to set up a mock crime scene (this was a party after all, I wanted to make it festive). It was a fun effect and photo opportunity for my guests.
Following the exciting victim reveal, the investigation of the crime commenced! I passed out the murder mystery investigation sheets and a pen/pencil for each guest to start the investigation. Guests mingled about to interrogate everyone (using the post-murder clues), view the evidence, and put the pieces together to make their best guess of whodunit!
At the end of this round, I gave guests 5-10 minutes in which to fill in their final guesses of whodunit on the mystery investigation sheet. The guests turned in their investigation sheets to me once completed. After the mystery investigation sheets were collected, the guests took turns accusing who they believed the murderer to be and how they did it.
After the guests made their accusations of whodunit, I distributed the solutions cards to commence the final round. Each player read their character’s solution to the mystery and the murderer confessed at the end!
Everyone had a marvelous time at the murder mystery party. It was entertaining watching guests play their roles – people who are characteristically reserved became the stars of the game and people who normally crave and seize the limelight remained in the shadows and allowed others to approach them if that was what their role called for. And people did not break character until the game was over! Overall, the night was to die for.