You and your friends are having a great time, gathered for an evening of fine wine and great food, when suddenly the lights go out and you’re startled by the sound of a gunshot. To your horror, as the light returns, a body is lying on the floor next to you! As you look around the room, you notice some very shady characters and you know one of them has committed the crime, but who? Are you ready to plan your own murder mystery party?
It’s up to you and your guests to work through the murky relationships at the party to figure out who is the killer and why. Was it Candice, who's wearing a blonde wig and sunglasses, or could it have been her date Daniel who has a strange limp and carries a cane?
The costumes, the mystery, and the suspense: a murder mystery party provides a uniquely entertaining experience and is sure to be one of the most memorable events to which your guests have ever been invited!
If you are brand new to the realm of murder mysteries, we have put together some top murder mystery party ideas. You'll need to:
Why not make your murder mystery party go with a real ‘bang’ at one of our large houses in the UK?
Create a ‘killer’ storyline
This is where you can unleash some of your creative skills as you and your guests become the actors in your own thrilling tale of treachery, deceit and death! If you’re short on time or want to make life a little easier for yourself, there are murder mystery kits available to purchase online which have pre-written plot lines, but we think it’s much more fun to make up your own story with a do it yourself murder mystery party.
When you’re planning a murder mystery party, you’ll need to think about:
- A theme: This can be as reserved or outrageous as you fancy. Perhaps you could step back in time and go for a Downton Abbey, Sherlock Holmes or glitzy Great Gatsby themed soiree, or maybe you could transform your venue into a masquerade ball, the wild west, Hogwarts or even the Titanic!
- The characters: Think about the people you will be inviting to the murder mystery party and take their personalities into account when assigning their characters. You could even consider hiring local actors to take on some of the roles for extra drama. Just make sure that each character’s backstory fits in with the clues.
- The murder: Will it happen while your guests are there, or will it be assumed that it happened just before they arrived?
- The clues: Make sure that it is possible to discover the villain by taking note of the clues and asking questions of the other protagonists. Although there will be several suspects, only the guilty person should fit the bill.
- Who done it: Remember, it’s not always the most obvious person…
Choose the scene of the crime
You’ve chosen a theme and created a storyline for your murder mystery holiday, so now you need to pick a murder mystery party venue that will complement the evening. Here are a few suggestions:
Sleeps 10 guests
This grand house in Northumberland is the perfect place to host a murder mystery evening. Set close to the sweeping and brooding Northumberland Coast you won't need many cues to get into the swing of things. Sleeping 10 guests, this property is a great party house with lots of space to socialise and spend time together. Wesley House is home to a large lovely dining room to host the event, rooms equipped with all the mod cons and possible props to make your night be one to remember (if you survive).
Sleeps 20 guests
With an elaborate dining room adorned with a chandelier, a grand spiral staircase, an atmospheric drawing room with a piano and crackling open fire, an extravagant billiard room with surround sound music system, and even a tennis court outside, this murder mystery party venue in the UK has everything you need for a chilling night.
Sleeps 22 guests
Amongst its antique furnishings, chandeliers and tall sash windows, you’ll be spoilt for choice for your ‘scene of the crime’ setting in this impressive Georgian house. Perhaps the body could be found in the library, struck by the cue from the pool table, or by the swimming pool, the murder weapon resting on one of the sun loungers. Turn a night of fun into a full murder mystery holiday!
Arouse suspicion with invitations
When planning a murder mystery party, you will need to send out invitations to each of your chosen suspects. Each invitation should include a character description card/booklet containing their individual character history and relationship to the deceased, connections to at least one other guest, costume suggestions and clues to scatter in conversation throughout the evening (and, of course, whether they are the murderer!).
Connections and clues will help the guests know where to start their sleuthing. You can assign roles that closely match each person or give them a character with a polar-opposite personality for a bit of fun. Make sure you do this in plenty of time, so everyone can prepare their costumes and props ready for the big night.
Top tip: Make sure your guests keep their character a secret from everyone else who will be attending the party, especially their partners or spouses!
Pick your poison
When it comes to the food for your murder mystery dinner party, try and match the menu with the theme or era. For example, if you’re going for a Great Gatsby theme, you could serve up a selection of hors d’oeuvres, crudités and charcuterie, accompanied by colourful cocktails and fizz. Or you might prefer a formal sit-down meal, served in-between each round of the murder mystery games. Typically, there are three rounds, so you could serve cocktails and appetisers during round one, dinner during round two and coffee and dessert during round three.
If you’re planning a murder mystery party in one of our large party houses, then you might like to choose one which offers external catering so you don’t have to worry about preparing the food yourself, and you’ll have more time to mingle with your guests.
Set the scene for ‘murder’
You’ve arrived at the venue for the murder mystery party, so now you’ll need to know how to set up the scene. When organising a do it yourself murder mystery party, there is no need to break the bank with party décor, you can often make use of items you have around the house, like old shoes for making footprints or knives for the murder weapon.
However, if you’re going for a more elaborate theme like Harry Potter, for example, you might want to enhance the ambience with props such as coloured plates to represent the different Houses, a wand for each person, a picture of Moaning Myrtle on the toilet and a ‘Wanted’ poster cut-out for guests to take selfies. And don’t forget a ‘killer’ playlist to really set the tone of your murder mystery party.
Next, you’ll need to scatter some clues around the venue for guests to find. Create evidence cards to accompany relevant props that you’ll cunningly place on bookshelves, in desk drawers, under chairs and behind cushions. These will help players build up a picture of the murderous events that have taken place.
For example: “This candlestick looks like it’s been around a while; the brass is losing its lustre. You notice a bit of dried blood on the top end of the stick.”
Solve the mystery
As your guests begin to arrive at the murder mystery party, you’ll need to know how to run the evening and be a great host. If you want a theatrical start to the night, the murder can take place soon after the guests have all arrived, with an ear-piercing scream bellowing from the room you have chosen to be the scene of the crime.
If you have decided to split the evening into a few rounds, then round one can consist of guests mingling with each other over appetizers, learning more about each other’s characters, whether they have alibis, and possible motives for the crime. The tension will be high at the end of this round.
Round two is a fact-finding session where guests can investigate the venue, searching for forensic evidence and mysterious clues, questioning each other over the findings. As the dastardly events begin to unfold, each player must race against the clock to figure out ‘whodunit’ before the murderer escapes.
The final round is when each character has the opportunity to deduce their clues and say who they think committed the crime. After everyone has revealed their guess, you can hand out an envelope to each player with a card inside for them to read aloud stating their involvement, if any, with the murder. The culprit will then make their confession and you can see which one of your friends was the best sleuth! When you plan your own murder mystery party for added fun, you could award prizes to your guests for those who guessed the killer correctly, had the best costume or played the best character.
Top tip: You could leave a notebook and pen on each place setting at the table so players can jot down clues as the game progresses.
Now you know how to organise a murder mystery party, you’ll need to find the perfect venue to host your thrilling evening. For a party ‘to die for’, why not have a browse of our large houses in the UK? Including big party houses, atmospheric castles and beachfront lodges; you’re certain to find a suitable setting for your soiree in our collection. Thinking about planning a murder mystery party for a special birthday? Head over to our guide to milestone birthdays to find the perfect party ideas!
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.