Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)

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Well, technically, All Saints Day solve-the-murder party. I bought a lovely old house in May that is actually large enough to have a substantial number of people over, and my roommate and I are taking advantage of it by writing a mystery, planting clues, and inviting a bunch of people over to solve it. I'd love some help to point out any flaws in our thinking- both mystery and entertaining wise!

So, November the first, 1930 (7:30 pm), sleeping room provided for those who wish to drink.

Our vague plan at the moment is that I bought the house from the son of the owner who died in the house (which is true) and that under mysterious circumstances we came back from a Halloween party the night before to find him dead. We intend to plant clues upstairs and in the basement, leaving the ground floor as home base, where we'll keep the food and drink.

We're especially excited for this as my home has a hidden safe built into a wall, the closet door to which is behind a pillar and matches the paneling *and* a hiding place in the cedar closet. (The previous owner owned the corner shop- we figure they must have needed a couple safe hiding places. I'd have never found the one in the cedar closet if her daughter hadn't heard I was buying it and told the neighbor to be sure to mention it to me.)

Our guests will get a goody bag as they arrive, containing things they may need to solve the mystery, to be solidified as we find out who is coming and how many people there are- things like say, a magnifying glass, a candle and match, tape and talcum powder for fingerprint dusting...depending on how elaborate the mystery is. Fewer people means we'll go for more complicated- more means simpler. So far we have four guests of...23 confirmed, lol, but we're a ways out and even four is plenty. Each guest will also get a clue of their own that they may choose to divulge at any time- or keep to themselves.

Food and Drink:

Liquor, Hard Cider, Soda/Mixers, Water

Veggie tray, fruit tray, maybe cheese tray?

Pizza Puffs (basically Bisquick mix with pepperoni, cheese, oregano, and garlic powder in seasonal mini cupcake papers)

Pretzel Bites with Honey Mustard and/or Cinnamon Icing

Hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip in Bread Bowl


Tarte Tatin (I made mini versions to test it out, CRUD MONKEYS! so good)

Earl Grey Cupcakes with Spiderweb Ganache (dark chocolate ganache with white chocolate done in circles, toothpick dragged through to make pattern)

Meringue Bones

Bowl of Candy

So please, fellow E-hellions, let me know what you think- I really want this party to be a great success so that we can make it a yearly tradition!

It sounds like a wonderful party. 

There are certain things I would suggest that worked well at our mystery nights.

Make sure each sleuth has a pencil and a small notebook or pad.  Notes will be useful.

Have back-ups for clues you plant.  It sometimes happens that people will walk off with them before everyone has seen them. 

I would really think twice about the fingerprints.  It could get very messy and, since fingerprints are almost everywhere in a house, confusing. 
Make sure that everything you don't want disturbed is safely locked away.  At one of our mystery
nights, a group was also having a birthday party for a child.  Because at our first mystery, people pulled the cushions off the sofa looking for clues, the presents were consigned to a locked office for the duration.

Will you have a list of suspects?  We always found it useful to write up a bit of background on each.  This can be as simple as a photocopied sheet although we made up actual booklets for guests. 

When we did our mysteries, we had a cast of suspects who performed during the evening.  We wrote the stories so that no one, including the cast, knew who the murderer was so they could play along.  At the reveal, the murderer was taken away in handcuffs and got to keep the handcuffs as a souvenir.  This was quite a hit.  After the third mystery, the formed a group they called the 'Culprit's Club'.

Depending on how many guests actually show up, it might be a good idea to divide them into teams.  23 people ratcheting around a house can get chaotic. 

You can have a bit of fun with the food.  We would have two bowls of pinch.  One was non-alcoholic and the other was laced.  The bowl with alcohol was labeled the '7 percent Solution'.  The other was labeled the 'Zero percent solution'.  If your guests are adventurous eaters you could make a
salad with beets and call it 'Red Herring (it's not what you think).

One last thought.  If possible, have someone who will not be a guest read your story and offer comments.  It's so easy to get so wrapped up in the thing that you forget to include something that will be of use to your guests. 

Most of all, enjoy.  These things can be much more fun to write than to solve. 

Your party sounds amazing and I'm jealous of the people who will be going! It'll be fantastic!

Thipu1 has good advice, especially with the teams. It'll make people talk with each other much more about their theories on the mystery as they find clues, which is what you want at a party.

I like the idea of serving smoked herring with tomato puree :P

Library Dragon:
The only problem is my invite has disappeared from my mailbox  ;).

Seriously sounds like a lot of fun. I second the pen/pencil recommendation. When I assisted with murder mysteries at our local Barnes and Noble we used index cards.  I think it was a cost factor, but it was easy to lay them all out on a table and look at the big picture.

Oh, and your house sounds very, very cool.

Your party sounds amazing!  I too, am soo jealous of the people who will be attending.


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