Choosing the Right Murder Mystery Kit

A murder mystery kit should contain everything you need to successfully host a murder mystery party at home. This will include instructions, character sheets, evidence, invitations, awards, etc. They might even throw in some decoration ideas and recipes. These murder mystery kits are a complete guide to organizing and pulling off your mystery evening. Depending on your budget, you can find very simple kits that give you the basics, or you can spend a little more and get a more complex kit and story. Some of these stories are family-friendly, while others might have scenarios designed for more experienced players. You can get these kits either in physical form, or available online as a digital download.

There are a ton of themes to choose from. People who love historical settings and clothing usually opt for a 1920 speakeasy theme, while others prefer something more modern. You’ll also need to choose your kit according to its difficulty. Depending on your friend group, they may not have played a murder mystery before. More straightforward stories are best for first-timers. Once your friends have the hang of it, then you can move onto more complex options.

Your choice of murder mystery kit will play the largest part in the atmosphere that you’d like to create. Let’s take a look at some of the factors in choosing the perfect kit:

Choosing the Right Murder Mystery Kit

Consider the Size of Your Group

Keep in mind the number of friends you want to invite when choosing a kit. Murder mystery kits are usually designed with a set number of people in it – one to play each character. For smaller groups – 6 to 8 people – you’ll want a kit where everyone has a big role to play to keep it interesting. These kits generally have deeper character development and more intricate relationships between characters.

For medium-sized groups (10-15 people), you’ll want a murder mystery kit that strikes a balance between complexity and manageability. More often than not, you’ll have a mixture of primary and secondary characters. Primary characters are required in order to play the game. Secondary characters can be added as required to account for additional friends. Secondary roles are great for friends who want be a part of the game but don’t want the pressure of possibly being the killer or victim/s.

Larger groups (20 or more players) are the most difficult types to run. These kits will need to include a lot of backstory to integrate everyone into the tale. These can be really great for parties where guests don’t know each other and will need to move around and mingle.

Selecting an Appropriate Theme

The theme you choose should be based on an interest of yours, or your friends. Are they fans of historical periods? Do they prefer realism over fantasy? A quick group message out to your friend group will give you a better understanding of their preferences. History buffs might enjoy dressing up in clothing they often read about. In that case, you could opt for a medieval theme or a 1920s murder mystery kit. Historical themes can transport players to seminal times in history – Ancient Egypt, the Wild West, the Renaissance, etc.

I know that with my friend group – if I chose a historical theme, no one would come, but something modern would definitely work. Modern themes are often based on high-stakes corporate scandals, celebrity parties gone wrong or a murder aboard a yacht. These are things often seen on daily TV, and can be a lot of fun to roleplay as. You should also think about the time of year. A Halloween event would work better with a spookier theme, while a summer one could be perfect for a more light-hearted, outdoor mystery.

Popular themes for murder mystery parties cover a wide range of settings and styles. Vintage themes, such as Victorian London, or a classic old mansion murder mystery, are favorites and you can find various distributors of these kits. These themes often allow for elaborate costumes and decorations, adding to the immersive experience.

Difficulty Level of your Murder Mystery Kit

You can find kits in every type of difficulty. Some are straightforward with easy clues to solve, while others contain elaborate puzzles to decipher. For first-timers, you might want to start with something casual with a simple storyline and easy objectives. This will help everyone to be engaged and not have them overwhelmed on their first try.

More experienced players will undoubtedly need a challenge to keep things exciting. Advanced kits involved multi-layered plots, more subtle clues and require players to use more deductive reasoning and less guesswork. It works out to a deeper and more immersive experience.

Finding the right balance for your range of guests will allow you to get everyone interested and involved. Find out beforehand how many people have participated in a murder mystery night, and work from there. Your friend groups problem-solving skills and attention span should be taken into account as well. You’ll want to give them a decent challenge without cause undue frustration. Ultimately, the goal is to choose a murder mystery kit that is fun, engaging, and memorable for everyone.

Age Appropriateness

Most murder mystery games are targeted at adults. Besides the actual murder, they could also include alcohol, relationships, substance abuse, theft, affairs, etc. While these games are catering for an adult audience, you may want to ensure that there is nothing triggering for your friends. You wouldn’t want to bring up any unpleasant memories for anyone.

Children and teen games are generally more light-hearted. They normally would be a mystery without the murder aspect. They would include simpler puzzles and focus on collaboration. These themes are sometimes based on popular characters, places and animals. They can be a fun addition at birthday parties.

For mixed aged groups, you’ll need to look for something that’s engaging for adults, but still appropriate for younger players. These kits may even have alternative storylines or adjustable content to suit a variety of ages. Make sure that you read through the full description, reviews and content warnings of any murder mystery before purchasing.

Format of the Kit

You can get murder mystery kits in both physical and digital forms. Physical kits come with everything pre-printed and are usually only shipped within their country of origin. These allow you to get started planning immediately without needing to download or print anything. They will, of course, be more expensive than digital kits and will require shipping costs. If you find one that you really love, then it can still be a worthwhile option.

Digital kits, on the other hand, are downloadable versions that you can print at home. They cost less as no ink, paper or shipping is required for their manufacture. You get quick access and can print out additional copies if you make any mistakes during the planning process. Digital kits are also easier to customize. For example, you can edit the invitations on your computer to make them fit your party exactly. They will require a little extra preparation time. I prefer to go to a printing store and have them made on cardstock for better quality, but you can print them out anyway that suits you best. When choosing between a physical and a digital kit – take a quick look at your budget, preparation time, and how customizable you’d like it to be.

Choosing the Right Murder Mystery Kit

It’s not too difficult to find the right murder mystery kit. There are a ton of options available and most of them are pretty good. The first time you throw this type of party – the planning stage will always be a little chaotic, but it’s worth it in the end. Once you’ve found the right murder mystery kit for your group, you’re well on your way to hosting a memorable, entertaining murder mystery party.