The best thing about an idea to have a murder mystery party to celebrate my birthday is that I can bring back one of the best events of the year - in Spring. Halloween. A little party never KILLED anyone...
I bought a murder mystery story online for about £30 but I wanted to still put my own twist on it by doing some DIY projects to make it my own. I always had the impression that murder mysteries could get quite boring with people just sitting around a table, people might not stay in character and it ends up just a Q&A. No. Not on my watch.
Firstly, I am friends with a theatrical, confident bunch who are all comfortable with taking the piss out of themselves in front of each other so staying in character was not a problem. In fact, they were in their characters the week before and the week after the event. Hilarious.
The story had 14 characters made up of 7 females and 7 males but I had 9 females and 6 males wanting to play. I took a male role of barman and my friend Natasha took the role of Bebop B'doo, telling the rest of the party that the two B'doos will be sisters not husband and wife. I decided to scan & send the character info to my guests beforehand so they were prepared with their character's bio and storyline.
I also made a list of random names for any other friends who wished to attend so I could make them "decoy characters". For example, I named my cousin/friend Chris "Tatty Bojangles" the poker dealer. When each character were introducing themselves at the beginning of the night, he had even made up his own story to tell the group (he was in the same union as Casey Stumbles, Catsby's butler). Later in the evening, the original Booboo B'doo was called into work (in 1920s flapper dress!) so the next thing I saw was Chris dressed up to take over the role, also returning the B'doos back to husband and wife (but gender reversed).
Rather than have all 14 characters (and then decoy characters) sitting round a table with a three-course dinner, I decided to have a three-course buffet instead. This meant that we had people free to act out their characters at a dinner party rather than sit around. The only problem was that it meant we were asked the same question more than once, which, wasn't really a problem.
The game was led by the audio files included in the set, which I created a giant Spotify playlist full of 1920s music into a radio show, "Radio Alibi" WITH adverts! The radio then came on for each act (and in turn, course) to move the story (and the meal) along. I put in about an hour's worth of songs for each course, but skipped ahead if people seemed to be finished with that act's questions.
I also had plenty activities available. I made a Photo Booth with 1920s props, a poker table and had my fully-functioning home bar, a true centrepiece to the evening (post on my home bar coming soon). The poker table was actually perfect (and a coincidence!) for Bebop B'doo's character, where it was later revealed that he/she had a gambling addiction!
I created some 'dead man' napkins using just liquid white chalk, card and an interesting familiarity with silhouettes of dead people. I created the stencil and dabbed away at the edges on the corner of black napkins while I watched an entire episode of Saturday Night Takeaway, then I decided I had done enough. These were a little added touch to the buffet table, which I decided to take quite gothic with bleeding candles, crime scene tape and low light.
I had also created photo evidence card out of yellow card and a black sharpie to number the food on the buffet. I had three starters, three mains and three desserts for the courses of the evening and so creating nine evidence cards and printed the 'menu' with each meal corresponding with a number. I had that also on yellow card with a desk light shining onto it in a police-interrogation style. Again, this added enough light into the room (as well as about 30 tea lights and the bar) to give a great atmosphere.
I also created evidence envelopes with each character's name on, to give to each person upon arrival. Inside, were their character bio and information, a 'menu' of questions to ask others in each act and a little card to say whether they were the murderer or not. Again, I feel like this was a nice added touch that gave the whole night a great feel.
Another great feature was the photo booth. It cost me all of £8. I bought some 1920s themed props and spent about 30 minutes putting them together one evening, put a gold tassel wall up and switched on my day light. I didn't need to set up any fancy camera, everyone just took pictures or selfies on their phones. My friend, Natasha, is also the person you usually avoid on a night out due to having a camera in your face so she naturally took on the role of taking pictures. She even downloaded other people's photos and put the vintage-look filter on them and re-uploaded them to Facebook. I'm really glad I did that as we have something to remember our characters by - even though I'm sure we'll see Gray Catsby, Harvey Wallbanger, Farley Hatpin, Greta Garbled and co. again!
"Stay Tuned" for further posts coming your way about the killer DIY cake and a post (maybe series) about my home bar - le pièce de résistance of my entire home!