It’s no lie that I love planning dinner parties, so when the opportunity arose to host a murder mystery night, I went full steam ahead. Hosting a murder mystery is a fair amount of work, but I promise you it is so worthwhile! Whether it’s a birthday, holiday party or just an excuse to entertain, I highly recommend throwing a murder mystery party.
1. Choose your game:
There are endless options when it comes to murder mystery parties. Downloading a murder mystery dinner is probably the best way to go as it allows for active participation from your guests (which makes it so much more entertaining!). I went with Night of Mystery as it seemed the best option for what we were planning. Their website has so many different themes to choose: Clueless murder, murder in Sin City, killing for the crown or Murder of a millionaire to name a few. For us, it was between the Wild West murder at Deadwood Saloon or the murder at the Juice Joint. We went with the Murder at the Juice joint- think gangsters, glitz and glam! The storyline is set with the passing of prohibition and organised crime on the rise. The Juice Joint, a swanky speakeasy run by Rosie Marie, has been nothing but jumping. To celebrate its success, Rosie plans a party to remember at the exclusive nightspot, however with an unfortunate fate, one of the guests is murdered and it is up to the characters to find the murderer among them.
2. Mail your invitations:
A list of characters is provided dependant on how many players you pay for. Once you have purchased the game, a file is sent to your email for downloading. This file includes everything you need, from a host guide to character descriptions, invitations and extras. Assign each guest to a character and create your invitation for them. If you follow my instagram you know I am a ritual wax sealer for every occasion. Sending out a good old fashioned invitation was no exception for this occasion. Completing it with a crimson wax seal from Fiona Arivas’s website indeed furthered the opulence for a 1920’s night.
Within the invitations (which are given to you in your downloads) incorporate each characters profile. You can also include the character cast sheet so players can familiarise themselves with each member, however I just gave these out to each player at the beginning of the night.
3. Set the scene:
I highly recommend going with Night of Mystery as they provide so many great DIY decor options to set the scene. Included in the downloads is gangster signed autographs and wanted posters (which I hung around the house as well as framed), liquor labels to place on old bottles and crate boxes, a police line up board, instructions to create a brick wall for the Juice joint and even a template dinner menu.
For the general decor of the room, opulence and grandeur encapsulates the roaring 20’s. So think pearls, booze, glitz and glam. Opshopping is a great way of finding cheap crystal vases, silver platters and glass flutes. I used tea water in many of my decanters to make it seem like moonshine. Photographs were also very important to a 20’s household so I printed off a few chorus girl images and added them to my picture frames around the house.
If you are having your mystery night in a lounge room, remember to add glittery silk pillows to set the lavish atmosphere.
4. Setting the table:
Incorporating a dinner is not necessary when holding a murder mystery as lite fare and libations would suffice. However as there was 7 of us, we decided on an intimate dinner party. I wanted to create the table very ‘Gatsby’ like, so gold and black was my running theme. For the table setting I gathered many of crystal decanters and pearls from local opshops. The faux feather sprays I sourced from Coast to Coast, a Perth giftware supplier.
Now here is an extremely cost effective tip: instead of buying napkins (which are so darn expensive, particularly when you have 8 people) go to spotlight, pick out some linen material and get them to cut it into pocket squares. I was on the brink of spending $30 on 8 black linen napkins when my boyfriend thought of this genius idea, and instead it cost me $4! I also brought a small gold trimming banner from spotlight and cut it to size, fitting it around my napkins. This just brought an extra grandiosity to the table.
For the menu, we wanted to make it very classic (just like the 20’s). Now champagne cocktails and canapés upon arrival is absolutely necessary, we used this recipe here for the cocktail.
For the canapés we had lemon infused cream cheese crostini’s with salmon and dill, as well as buffalo mozzarella crostini’s with crispy pancetta. As an amuse bouche we decided a creamy roasted tomato basil soup from here.
Entrée was a classic cheese soufflé, I always use Julia Child’s recipe- it never fails me (the secret to a great soufflé is always gruyère cheese). Samantha Ferraro breaks down Julia’s recipe on her blog here. Always remember with soufflé to take pictures asap as it will deflate quickly, clearly I did not get that memo here!
Now for main we had a delectable sage crusted eye fillet roast with a gorgonzola sauce. This recipe uses a rib eye (which I have made before) but we decided to switch to an eye fillet. Our two sides were prosciutto wrapped asparagus and cheesy potato stacks.
For dessert the opulence continued with a flambé bombe Alaska! I used Gordon Ramsey’s recipe from the F Word cookbook, however you can find the recipe here. However I did a few test trials with the meringue and found this recipe the best. Now to flambé heat up some liquor (rum or brandy works best), set alight and pour.
I also made blood splatter sugar cookies for the table, but most guests took them home as a treat for the end of the night.
Dress the part:
Dressing the part is essential plus extremely fun. Each character is given a guideline on how to dress the part. For example I played Molly Mol- a popular socialite soon to be engaged, so sequins, a long pearl necklace and a glamorous engagement ring was on my list. Alicia (on the right) and I hired our outfits from Vintage Illusion, which included the dress, shoal/feather scarf, gloves, a bag, a necklace and bracelet for $100. Isabella (middle) brought her dress and accessories from here.
Let the game begin:
The game you purchase will lay out how everything that happens in order, ours went like this:
-Each character will be given a character case file at the beginning of the night, this includes a description of their character, the backgrounds of each character and the plot.
-Each member will be given two envelopes during the night. It is best to begin the night with the opening of envelope A which includes their mission for the first half of the night.
-We then had our entrée whilst we completed our objectives.
-After objectives A one of the members will be ‘murdered’, however they take on the role of Private investigator Pinkerton (so don’t worry, no guest will miss out on the fun!)
-Guests then receive envelope B, at which point, one character is told they are the killer.
-The night continues with completing your objectives, reviewing evidence and bribing each other with money.
-The evening ends with everyone making their guesses as to who the killer is and voting on the awards that are given out.
Meet the cast: