Get your friends together for a night of mystery at a Murder Mystery Dinner Party!
One thing I’ve always said about myself is that I don’t do anything halfway. If I’m really excited or passionate about something, I’ll put my whole heart (and way too much time) into it. Recently, I told Kyle that I wanted to have some friends over for a family dinner, and while I was scrolling through local events on Facebook, I saw a restaurant that was hosting a murder mystery dinner theater. Naturally, I jumped from having a family dinner with friends to wanting to have a murder mystery dinner party.
In college, my friends and I got together to solve quite a few murder mysteries. There was only one instance where we dressed up and went through the motions for having a full dinner. The other times were pretty casual, but everyone still got into character.
If you’re thinking about hosting your own murder mystery dinner party, this post has everything you need for a night full of fun and mystery.
FINDING A MURDER MYSTERY
Let me just say that finding free murder mysteries online is pretty tough, but there is no shortage of murder mysteries available online that you can pay for (usually anywhere from $25-$50). I found very little blogs that were helpful in finding free ones, which is such a shame because when I was in college, there were murder mysteries galore! The site that I used to use shut down, unfortunately.
If you’re looking for a free murder mystery, you can click here to download the one I used for my murder mystery dinner party. This one is called ‘The Business of Murder’ and it’s meant to be played with seven people – four guys and three girls. Note that the host of the party will know who the murderer is, but there is an advanced version of the game that’s an extension of the original game. In this advanced game, the host is out of the loop as well.
If you peruse the internet a little bit, you’ll be able to find some games where the host already knows who the murderer is and a few that leave the murderer a mystery to everyone playing. I prefer to play with everyone being in the dark. It makes it much more fun!
The invitations included with the game just did not do it for me. I ended up designing the invitations using Canva. They have plenty of fun templates for you to customize yourself and send out to your guests. Just click on “Find Templates” then type in “Murder Mystery Party Invitations.” So many things come up!
If you decide to do the ‘The Business of Murder’ mystery, you can click here to download a printable of the invitations I sent out to everyone.
Because I’m extra, instead of just printing out the information sheets from the files that were provided with the game download, I decided to make the information sheets add-ons to the invitation. Everyone that was invited got information sheets about the characters they’d be playing that were in the same style as the invitation. You can click on the following names to download the invitations for each individual (note that the first three pages of the invitations are the same, but if you scroll down, you’ll be able to see the information for each of the individual characters): Fiona, Margaret, Pauline, Robert, Ronnie, Theodore, Tim.
There are so many things to keep in mind for inviting people to your murder mystery dinner party. Make sure that you invite people who are punctual. The game can’t start until everyone is present. Also be sure to invite people who will have fun getting into character. ‘The Business of Murder’ takes place in 1950’s London, so the costumes are pretty easy to adhere to. Most of the guests will just need to be in business casual attire. There are simple tips for each of the characters that are included on their individual invitations or on the information sheets.
For ‘The Business of Murder,’ these are the cast of characters:
Roy Bradbury is actually the murder victim in the scenario. This part doesn’t need to be assigned to anyone, but you can still make a place for him at the table.
Ted Wilson is an assistant finance professor at Cambridge. He’s friendly and intelligent, but hasn’t done much since publishing his thesis. He’s married to Margaret Wilson.
Margaret Wilson is the wife of Professor Ted Wilson. She’s known for being emotional and having some marital problems.
Tim Bradlow is a PhD student in finance who works for Professor Ted Wilson and shares an office with his friend, Roy Bradbury.
Ronnie Snapper is an MBA student at Cambridge. He’s well-off, well-connected and may or may not be related to a major London gangland boss. (Side note: How handsome does Kyle look in that suit? I mean, I’m one lucky gal.)
Fiona McAllister is Roy’s ex-girlfriend who he may or may not be getting back together with.
Robert Smith was Fiona’s boyfriend, but their status is currently up in the air since she’s been seeing her ex-boyfriend, Roy. (Since there were four male characters, I took one for the team and drew a beard on, and honestly, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this for a costume.)
Pauline Thompson is a mysterious woman who showed up to this gathering purely to speak with Roy.
The murder mystery takes place around a 3-course meal, but you can do whatever you’d like to make it easy to flow from one clue to another.
For my murder mystery dinner, I, of course, made a cheese plate for an appetizer. If you’ve been around the blog for awhile, you’ll know that I’m high-key obsessed with cheese plates, and I try to find a delicious cheese plate to eat in every place I travel to. This was only the second cheese plate I’ve ever made, and it was definitely a success. All of the cheese was gone by the end of the night.
For dinner, we had a pasta bar. There were three different kinds of noodles, two sauces, three meats, two cheeses and various toppings along with garlic bread. We also had a Caesar salad as a starter.
I asked my roommate to make the dessert, and she baked some chocolate chip cookies.
Click here for the printables I used for the pasta bar, cheese plate and dessert.
I had the hardest time trying to figure out how to decorate for this murder mystery. If you look online, you’ll find all sorts of ideas for murder mysteries that take place in the 20s and those that play off of the popular board game, Clue. I didn’t really know what direction to go in for a murder mystery that was set in 1950’s London.
I decided to keep it simple and set out items that could be used for any type of murder mystery. I bought three red candlesticks, placed them into wine bottles and melted them down to look a little spooky. I bought two magnifying glasses and a set of play handcuffs. To give it a little something extra, Kyle and I hung up some caution tape over the windows.
As mentioned, many of the murder mysteries I came across online had some sort of 20s theme, so naturally, a little bit of the black and gold creeped into my party.
At each of the place settings, I put plates, napkins and plasticware. On top of that, I put an envelope for each character that was marked “For your eyes only” that was to be opened at the start of the game. I also made little notebooks for people to take notes throughout the game. Click here to get a printable for the notebooks. There were also pencils for note-taking and a small slip of paper for everyone to write their guess for who they thought the murderer was at the end of the game.
Also placed on the table were the clues in each of their individual envelopes and numbered 1-5 along with other labeled envelopes needed to play the game, a copy of the party invitation (click here to download a printable) and some framed word art I created with the quote “A little party never killed no one” (click here for the printable). In front of each seat, I put a tent card so everyone would know who was who (click here for the printable). I also put out nametags for everyone to wear on their shirts. Face down on everyone’s seat, I put a copy of the information sheets that everyone received as part of their party invitations.
Of course, it’s not a Tiffany party if I don’t put up a photo booth. Kyle graciously put it together. Instead of having a bunch of props, I decided to keep it simple since everyone was already dressed in costume. I made some signs for everyone to take mugshots. You can click here to print those out.
What’s great about ‘The Business of Murder’ is that everything is right there for you in an easy-to-understand way. Once you download the game, you simply follow the instructions. Make sure everyone is clear about the rules so things don’t get lost in translation.
As mentioned, there are tons of websites out there where you can purchase your own murder mysteries for parties. Some of these are instant downloads, and there are others that will ship you a physical game with everything you need already prepared for you. There are a few websites that have free downloads, but you just have to make sure you have the correct number of people.
You can click here to access all of the printables I created for ‘The Business of Murder’ murder mystery dinner party. If you have any questions about how I executed this dinner party or need clarification on anything, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email, and I’d be happy to help in any way I can!
Have you ever hosted a murder mystery party?