Author Topic: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)  (Read 3636 times)

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Chibikoky

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First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« on: September 15, 2013, 09:43:26 AM »
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

Chips

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!

Thipu1

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2013, 10:49:50 AM »
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. 



« Last Edit: September 15, 2013, 12:07:20 PM by Thipu1 »

Pen^2

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2013, 01:41:40 PM »
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

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2013, 01:57:55 PM »
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.

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metallicafan

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2013, 10:13:28 PM »
Your party sounds amazing!  I too, am soo jealous of the people who will be attending.

Jloreli

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2013, 07:30:14 AM »
Perhaps a crock-pot of meatballs? And this is definitely colored by my experience with LARPing with college age young men *mumble* years ago....but maybe something a bit substantial after the great reveal of who-doneit? Sandwiches? Giant sub?

Winterlight

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2013, 09:28:45 AM »
I would skip the talcum powder because otherwise you're going to have a very messy place and a lot of dusty people.

I would also vote for something solid after the reveal. A crock pot of stew or soup?
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Thipu1

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2013, 09:59:22 AM »
I also support something hearty after the reveal.  Sleuthing can make you very hungry. 

Since pepperoni pizza was mentioned, I gather the guests have no problems with meat or gluten. 

A pot of chili or stew would work well.  My preference would be pea soup with warm, crusty bread.   

Also, instead of the candle and matches in the goody bag, a small, inexpensive flashlight (torch) would be safer, especially in the cedar closet or if the guests will be wearing costumes.  They would also make nice souvenirs.   

Please, provide updates.  This party sounds like a genuine hoot! 
« Last Edit: September 16, 2013, 10:05:31 AM by Thipu1 »

Chibikoky

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2013, 01:04:31 PM »
Thanks for all the replies! My roommate is in charge of the mystery, so I've been passing your concerns on that score along to her (and then she looks ever so mysterious. If she had a goatee, she'd be stroking it).

We are definitely on the lookout for little notebooks now, we found the coolest little syringe pens at Five Below to go with them. The candle in the bag would be more for the lemon juice secret message trick than for illumination, and if lit would be done outside in the backyard- same for any fingerprinting endeavors. And I need to call the locksmith, as I have no idea what the safe combination is, but that would be pretty cool to utilize. There is also to be an easily dividable gift basket for the winner(s), as we sort of expect people to gravitate by themselves into working together. (The Roomie's boyfriend is bringing a couple friends, there's a couple coming, that sort of natural group.)

The Roomie, as I am now referring to her, is also planning to use our root cellar (a truly terrifying place) as the place of the murder, by buying some clothes and sheets from the thrift store, taking them to the backyard, dousing them liberally in fake blood, and setting it up accordingly. She's even got the idea to replace the light bulb with a black light one. Day of I'll see if I can get some pics before our guests arrive.

Food allergies are not a concern, as far as I know, although I mean to ask closer to the date. (On our ever so classy facebook event page.) I hadn't planned on something big after...hmm. By then it'll be probably ten, ten-thirty pm, though I had planned for like, cinnamon rolls or something in the morning if we had people staying the night. 

I've got to say, this is a great way to keep myself organized.

Winterlight

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2013, 02:29:38 PM »
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls

squeakers

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2013, 02:04:19 AM »
This might be more work than what you intend but.. what about making different clues for different groups? So that everyone is the winner in the end if they solve all the puzzles.. and you won't have congestion as your clues send each group to a different part of the house at the same time.

Do you have room for everyone to spend the night? Because this might be one of the few times a year people might want to over indulge that normally don't.  Or stay yakking until they are really too tired to be sleeping safely.  This would be a good time to have people bring their RVs and tents to spend the night.

Breakfast?  If people come with camping in mind.. giant bags of frozen hashbrowns, sausage, a couple of onions, a couple dozen eggs, a couple big bags of shredded cheese .. and tortillas or just paper plates= breakfast of champions.  The mixings can be cooked on grills in tinfoil/aluminum.
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jpcher

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2013, 06:43:46 PM »
Or stay yakking until they are really too tired to be sleeping safely.

Most definitely make sure all the guests' beds are equipped with the required bed-belts necessary for safe sleeping. Please remind them to buckle-up when they go to bed. A safe sleep is the best sleep. >:D



The party sounds awesome!

I do agree with others that your menu should have just a bit more savory items . . . It sounds sweet-heavy to me, even though this is an after dinner spread. (Guests know that this is not a dinner, right?) I think you should do the cheese tray with some cubed sausages/salami/crackers type of thing (you had that as a question mark, I say go for it.) And that's about it.

I like the idea of something a bit hardier after the reveal. Simply because you want people to be involved in the game and your appetizer table shouldn't be the center of attention during the game.

It doesn't have to be a "big meal" type of thing, a crock pot full of chili or soup with bread or the sub-sandwich type of thing. I think this would be a great ending to the mystery where all the guests get together and talk about the fun that was had.

I know that when I've been drinking, a small bite of something hardy (with some coffee/tea/water/soda) and an hour or so of (non-alcohol) chill time helps me sober up enough so that I can sleep safely. ;D


« Last Edit: September 17, 2013, 06:45:49 PM by jpcher »

squeakers

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2013, 12:21:30 AM »
"driving safely"  :-[

But then again when heavy drinking is involved (not the OP's party) ... there have been times I could use a designated bathroom driver and bed returner.  >:D
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rose red

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2013, 11:29:54 AM »
So the time frame is between 7:30-10-30?  I don't think you need to prepare a special meal for after the party, but I think it may be a good idea to add at least one more hardier protein to your menu for during the game.  Like the meatballs previously mentioned, or perhaps chicken wings or deviled eggs.  Meatballs are easier though since you can buy frozen and keep them continuously heated in a crockpot.

o_gal

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Re: First Time Hosting: Halloween Murder Party (long.)
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2013, 01:52:34 PM »
And I need to call the locksmith, as I have no idea what the safe combination is, but that would be pretty cool to utilize.

Here's an idea for helping incorporate the safe, since until that time, only you will know the combination. Figure out something that's important to solving the mystery and put it in the safe. Then put the combination on a piece of paper and tape it in a "public" location, but one which is not too terribly obvious. Those who look around will spot it and be able to open the safe. After the party you can just dispose of the paper, assuming that you trust that no one will write down the combination  >:D

Docked in Cleveland is the Mather, an ore freighter that used to do runs on the different Great Lakes. It's part of the Great Lakes Science Center, and you can take tours of it. In the captain's office, there's a safe located in a small closet. If you enter the closet, turn around, and look above the doorway, you'll see that the captain wrote the safe combination there. Not an obvious place to look, but one that isn't exactly hidden either.