10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hosting Your First Murder Mystery Party

10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hosting Your First Murder Mystery Party: If you’re excited about hosting your first murder mystery party, but not sure where to start – I’ve got the tips you’ll need. Before you start sending out invitations, there are a few questions that you need to answer to help make the party a success. It’s always best to prepared rather than being overwhelmed on the night. Here are the top 10 questions you should ask yourself before hosting your first murder mystery party.

10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hosting Your First Murder Mystery Party

1. How do I choose the right murder mystery game for my group?

This is one of the biggest choices you’ll need to make. You want to find just the best fit for maximum fun. This choice can make or break the game. And are you planning a small get-together with close friends or a larger party? You’ll want to choose a game that includes the number of guests you invite so that everyone gets to play a meaningful part.

Next, decide how difficult you want the game to be. You’ll want to get something that’s challenging enough for experienced players but still easy enough for newbies to enjoy. The theme you choose is also important. Would your group have more fun with a 1920s speakeasy setting, a spooky haunted house, or a classic detective story? Pick a theme that your friends, and you, will enjoy most.

Feel free to get your friends involved, and ask them what type of murder mystery they would enjoy as well. If they’ve done some of them before, it would be best to avoid those so that everyone can have a fresh experience going in.

Best Murder Mystery Party Game

You are Alex Bailey, an adventurer on the search for a mysterious island. You’ve brought together a group of experts to try aid you on your expedition, but not everyone can be trusted with the secrets of the island. After 3 people are murdered at your event, you must work together to try find the killer.


2. How many guests should I invite to my murder mystery party?

Most murder mystery games have a recommended player range, usually starting from six to eight and sometimes extending to twenty or more. It’s best to begin by inviting just enough guests to meet the minimum requirement for your chosen murder mystery game. Only consider inviting more people if you need to accommodate a growing group of interested friends.

Having too many players can result in a crowded party and less involvement from each guest. Managing a large group becomes simpler with more experience in hosting such events. You should also think about how much free space you have for the party and about the cleanup afterwards. It’s best to start with a smaller party and increase the size when you’re more comfortable with them.

More information on how many guests to invite to a murder mystery.

3. What kind of decorations are best for setting the mood?

You want your decorations to fit your murder mystery’s theme. So for a haunted mansion-style game, you could use plastic skulls, cobwebs, etc. to create the right atmosphere. A lot of decorations for spooky murder mysteries can be found in Halloween stores. For something like a 1920 party, you could use feather boas and vintage posters to duplicate the style.

You can also add to the sense of mystery by dimming the lights or using electronic candles (safer than an open flame). You could print out some mock newspapers from that time, maps, old letters, etc. to give the space a more lived in look. You really don’t need to spend a lot when it comes to decorations as most of the best things simply needed to be printed out the right type of paper and scruffed up a bit. You can also repurpose decorative items that you already have at home from parties or Halloween.

What kind of decorations are best for setting the mood

4. Do I need to assign characters to guests or can they choose?

You can do it either way. It really does depend on your group. More often than not, you will be the one to assign them, but I’ll show the pros to each choice.

Assigning Characters: This lets you choose which character each friend will play, to either match their personality or because it will be the most fun option. You might give your more extroverted friends the most demanding roles, and choose something simpler for the introverts. This will ensure that key roles will be filled by people who will be most enthusiastic in that role. This can also help avoid conflicts if multiple people want the same role.

Letting Guests Choose: If you let guests choose for themselves, they’re definitely going to choose a role that genuinely interests them. You will only be able to give them character traits and clothing options for each character, as you can’t share the secrets with everyone. It will require a lot more work and organization for you if you take this route.

5. How long does a typical murder mystery game last?

Murder mysteries usually last from 2-4 hours. It will depend on the kit that you purchase, but most won’t go past the 4 hour mark. There are a number of factors that can extend playing time:

  1. Game Complexity: Simpler games with straightforward plots and fewer characters might be able to wrap up in about 2 hours. These are quick fun games for a small group that are pretty casual.
  2. Number of Players: The more players involved, the longer the game might take. Larger groups mean more interactions and discussions. This can definitely extend playing times.
  3. Player Interaction: The level of engagement and interaction between players can extend game time. If players are very active – discussing theories, and acting out parts, then the game might take longer. If players are more reserved or too quick at solving clues – the game might end sooner.
  4. Host Pacing: The host can directly affect the game’s pace. If you’re hosting and notice the game is moving slowly, you can introduce more clues to speed things up. If the game is moving too quickly, you can slow it down by postponing events, and allowing more time for discussions.

Always be clear about how long you expect the game to last so that your friends can plan their night out properly. If your friends have babysitters at home, they may have a set time that they have to leave. If you keep a close eye on the clock, you can ensure that everything wraps up in time.

6. How can I ensure that all guests are actively engaged?

If you want to make the night as memorable as possible, you’ll definitely want to have your friends as active as possible. Here are some ways to get everyone more involved:

  • Tailor Characters to Guests: Match characters to your guests’ personalities. Give more outgoing guests dramatic or central roles, while more reserved guests might appreciate less demanding characters. This alignment can help them feel more comfortable and engaged in their roles. Don’t try to force very active roles on your quieter friends (to try to bring them out of their shells). It’s not a shell, it’s their personality.
  • Clear Instructions and Support: Make sure all guests understand the rules and the flow of the game. Provide them with enough background information about their characters and the storyline. Do your rounds around the room regularly to be available to answer questions or clarify any confusion during the game.
  • Spotlight Moments: Create some moments where some characters can steal the spotlight. This could be a clue that only a specific character can reveal or a moment in the story where their backstory becomes especially important. It gives them a moment to shine. For example, in Shadows Over Shrouded Island, there are 3 murders throughout the night, and an award for the best acted out death.
  • Active Facilitation: As a host, keep an eye on the involvement of friends. If someone seems a bit distracted, find ways to bring them back into the action. You could try introduce them to another character that may have information relevant to them. The best games have characters connected to each other. They might be friends, co-workers or family, but it gives characters someone to start chatting to.
  • Feedback and Engagement Checks: Throughout the game, discreetly check in with your guests to see if they need any help. And don’t be afraid to make adjustments to the game on-the-fly if certain things just aren’t working for your friends.

7. Should I offer prizes for winners or outstanding performances?

Offering prizes can be a fun addition to your murder mystery party. It can incentivize guests to put more effort into their roles. Prizes can be as simple as an award certificate (usually supplied with your murder mystery) or just a bar of chocolate. You’d be surprised how much more involved your friends can be for a simple reward.

Pros of Offering Prizes:

  1. Motivation: Prizes can motivate guests to get more involved and take their character roles more seriously.
  2. Recognition: Awards for outstanding performances or for solving the mystery can make your friends feel appreciated.
  3. Fun Element: Incorporating prizes adds a playful competitive element, making the game more thrilling.


  • Keep It Light-hearted: Ensure the competition for prizes doesn’t become too intense, as the main goal of the night is for everyone to have fun.
  • Inclusivity: Make sure that the competition for prizes doesn’t make anyone feel left out or overshadowed.

Creative Prize Ideas:

  • Themed gifts like a detective novel, or a funny novelty mug.
  • Homemade trophies or certificates.
  • A special role or privilege in the next game you host.

8. How do I handle clues and evidence in the game?

There’s not much to handling clues and evidence effectively besides not losing them. Print everything out and keep them in large, marked envelopes to take out when you need them. This ensures that important parts don’t go missing, and that the right evidence is produced at the right time.

Plan how and when the clues will be introduced to the players. Some clues should be available at the beginning, while others should be revealed as the game progresses. If you’ve bought a murder mystery kit online – there should be clear instructions on when to introduce each piece of evidence.

If possible, use physical props for clues. Things like fake letters, photographs, or items relevant to the murder can make it more immersive. You can make some printable clues look more realistic by changing the type of paper or the color of paper they’re printed on. You can also squash or dirty some pages to make them look old and worn.

9. Should I incorporate food and drinks into the game’s theme?

Personally, I like to keep things super simple when hosting a murder mystery. I don’t want to be running in and out of the kitchen, or have to reheat dishes that have gone cold. So, I strongly recommend providing finger foods, pizzas, or buffet-style meals that guests can casually snack on throughout the night. However, there are still ways to incorporate these snacks into the theme of your party.

Should I incorporate food and drinks into the games theme

Just like decorations, food can also be used to create atmosphere. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when integrating food and drinks into your murder mystery party:

  • Thematic Menus: You could design your menu around the game’s setting or era. For example, if your mystery is set in a haunted mansion, you could bake some skull-shaped cookies.
  • Themed Presentation: You could use serving dishes and tableware that match the theme. Labeling food items with creative, theme-related names can also add a fun touch, eg. “Poisoned Apple Punch” or “Detective’s Delight Canapés”.
  • Dietary Restrictions: Remember to check with your friends about any dietary restrictions or allergies they may have. This will directly affect what you can serve.
  • Meal Times: If it’s a seated meal, you may need to plan when the food will be served, so that it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game. I like to have the food on display as soon as the first guest arrives. Finger foods and buffet-style meals allow guests to eat at their leisure without breaking character or missing out on any action.
  • Themed Drinks: Create a signature cocktail or mocktail for the event. This could be a drink that’s mentioned in the game or one that fits with the theme.

10. What are some common challenges I might face as a host and how can I overcome them?

Hosting a murder mystery party is always fun, but it’s not without its challenges. Here are some common issues you might encounter and what you can do to overcome them:

  • Uneven Participation: Sometimes, guests might be too shy to fully engage in their roles. Try to involve them in your conversations or ask them questions about their character’s backstory. You can also pair them with more outgoing guests to let the extroverts handle more of the talking/questioning.
  • Confusion About Rules: Guests may be unclear about the rules of the game or the specifics of their characters. Make sure that you provide a clear overview of the game rules at the beginning. And be available throughout the night to answer any questions that might come up.
  • Overzealous Players: Sometimes, one guest will dominate the game and overshadow everyone else. While enthusiasm is great, it’s not a one-man show. Gently steer conversations to include others or design the game in a way that requires input from all characters to solve the mystery.
  • Running Out of Time: Murder mystery games can sometimes run longer than expected, which might be an issue if you have time constraints. Keep an eye on the clock and be ready to push the game along if it starts to drag. You can speed up the game by introducing clues faster than your timeline suggests.
  • Technical Difficulties (for Virtual Games): If hosting online, you might run into technical issues like poor internet connections or difficulty with digital tools. Test your setup beforehand, have a tech support plan (like a quick reference guide for common issues), and be patient as guests navigate the virtual environment.
  • Disagreements: Disagreements might pop up as guests get more into their roles. As a host, remain neutral and help end these quickly. You want to focus on keeping the game enjoyable for everyone.

10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hosting Your First Murder Mystery Party

Those are the top 10 questions I had when hosting my first murder mystery. Even when things go wrong in these games, they usually tend to be more funny than disastrous. Laugh off the mistakes, and get the game back on track.

Be prepared to adapt as the night progresses and embrace the unexpected. After all, every good mystery needs some twists and turns. But most importantly, have fun! Your mood will set the tone for everyone else.