Hosting a Murder Mystery Halloween Party – Tips from a crime writer

Halloween – the spookiest time of the year, right? It’s also the most fun night if you enjoy planning a party and picking out a costume! Whether it’s your first time hosting a mystery party, or you are a seasoned host – crime writer Fiona Sherlock, author of Twelve Motives for Murder, shares her top tips for your mystery party!

Decorating your venue

  1. Setting up the crime scene: A few strategic props can really make an impact when your guests arrive. Start with a chalk outline on the floor where the body was found. Masking tape works a treat too.
  2. Have a great photo backdrop: Chances are your guests have gone to lots of effort to play the part, including those elaborate homemade costumes! Let them showcase their costuming talents with a mugshot backdrop and a holdable prisoner number
  3. Tablescaping: The art of dressing your table. Whether your game is set in Dracula’s castle or a crumbling mansion, stage your area with a few choice items of decor. For a luxe table setting, consider using a blanket instead of a tablecloth. Wine bottles with candlewax are an inexpensive yet high impact way to wow your guests. Turn down the lights and grace your guests with a flattering light…perfect for skullduggery

Playing the game

  1. Keep an eye on the time: Your guests will have the best experience if the game is played in bursts of highly engaging activity, instead of a dull event that drags on for hours. 90-120 minutes is really as long as you want to play, so if your game is broken into acts, set a timer on your phone for when to move to the next part. This time is considerabley shorter if you’re playing with kids – aim for 45 – 60 minutes.
  2. Host your own Oscars: Why not reward your players with mini Oscars? Have everyone vote for their favourite costumes/best actors and best accents
  3. Remember your shrinking violets: Not everyone is confident in how they look or read their script. Some people may be socially awkward after the pandemic. Keep a special eye on these people to make sure their comfortable. If they get stuck with a line or two, ad lib something fun and in character to put them at ease. But be warned, it’s often the most shy people who get into character the most!

There you have it, my top tips for hosting a memorable and Insta-worthy mystery party this Halloween. As a crime writer, I LOVE how involved players get in the world of a mystery party – that’s why I started writing my own. You’ll find my range of printable games on Etsy at Bespoke Murder Mystery. All game purchased in October will come with a FREE printable prop pack that includes crime scene tape, a prisoner number prop and a mugshot backdrop.

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