How to Create Your Own Murder Mystery Party Without a Kit

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Murder mystery parties can entertain groups of all ages. Whether your guests are old friends or new acquaintances, a murder mystery provides drama and intrigue, encourages participation and helps guests bond through a common goal: to solve the mystery. If you are theatrically minded, consider creating your own murder mystery instead of buying a kit.

Things You'll Need

  • Cast of characters
  • Costumes
  • Decorations
  • Props
  • Food and beverages
  • 1 Notepad and pen for each guest

Write a basic plot. Murder mysteries generally run for only two hours or less, so avoid elaborate subplots. The murder mystery formula calls for a group of people with a reason to gather in a particular place. One or two people are killed, and everyone else has a motive for the murders. Guests must question suspects, examine evidence and decide who the murderer is and why the murders were committed.

Develop and cast the main characters. Eight characters are ideal: one or two victims, a detective or police officer to manage the investigation, and five or six suspects. Some people write the characters first and find actors to fill the roles, while others create characters their chosen actors want to play. Each character should be a larger-than-life stereotype that is easy to identify. Choose actors who are reliable, outgoing and comfortable portraying characters in an improv situation.

Create a rough time line for the event. Write a short introductory script that draws guests into the story. Allow 15 minutes or so for mingling at the beginning of the night, and then set major scenes every five minutes. Each scene should reveal a murder, a piece of evidence or a possible motive. The final scene should be a wrap-up culminating in the murderer’s arrest.

Announce the evening’s theme well in advance. Encourage guests to dress in costume, develop characters of their own and be prepared to try to solve the mystery.

Set the stage with costuming, decorations and props. Ensure your actors are comfortable in their roles and are aware of each other’s motives. Run through major scenes at least once before the party begins.

Mingle constantly with guests and ensure your actors do the same. Although major scenes reveal the bulk of the storyline, leave some clues that can only be discovered through conversation. Stage conversations between actors to provide additional information for guests who eavesdrop.

Provide food and beverages. Although the party need not be an elaborate catered affair, snacks and drinks help guests to relax and feel more comfortable. Make sure there is plenty of seating.

End on a strong note. Although everyone may be tired, the final scene leaves a lasting impression. Find a way to create drama during the killer’s arrest.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rely on plot points rather than scripted dialogue. Too much dialogue can begin to sound rehearsed and may leave actors struggling to answer questions not in the script.
  • Verbal information can reveal important clues but may not be retained. Make sure the physical evidence provides enough information to solve the mystery.
  • Provide each guest with a notepad and pen. A written list of suspect names and a paragraph describing the story are helpful.

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