Hosting a mystery party? Great idea! It will be something your guests will rave about for YEARS to come. A Shot In The Dark Mysteries murder mystery or family-friendly mystery game is an easy way to spice up any get together, and all of our games are designed to make your life easier. But for those who have never hosted¬† a mystery party before, it can seem overwhelming. Trust us, you’ll have a tougher time with the chips-and-dip than you will with your game. All you need to do is print and play and your game will work.

Some hosts want to put a little extra into their party though, and we encourage that. In fact, I think the more outrageous the better. So, here are some tips for things you can do for your mystery game party that will give it that little something extra that we savvy hosts crave.

Savvy Host Tip #1: Have large groups form teams

To cut down on game play time, have your “investigators” form teams. Together, they will gather and decipher clues to solve the mystery. Not only does this keep the game play times reasonable, it is also creates a fantastic atmosphere of camaraderie, perfect for ice breakers and team building events!

Savvy Host Tip #2:  Keep costumes and name tags for the suspects

If you are having a party with guests who are not playing suspects, make the theme costumes and name tags only mandatory for the suspects. So, if you’re having a pirate themed mystery game, make sure your suspects dress in pirate swag, and make the pirate gear optional for the rest of your guests. Ditto with the suspect name tags.

Savvy Host Tip #3: Offer prizes for correct accusations

At the end of your mystery event, just before you reveal the “confession”, have your participants write down their accusation on a ballot form and drop it in a ballot box. Since most of us are motivated by the desire to win and look smarter than everyone else (some more than others…), tempt your sleuths with the potential of a prize at the end of the game. Read the “confession” before revealing it to the group, and quickly go through the ballots to separate the correct from the incorrect accusations. Then, put all of the correct accusations back in the box (or hat, bag, cookie jar – whatever you have available) and draw out one winner.

The possibilities with murder mystery game prizes are endless! We have had hosts give away anything from the pirate hat their mock corpse wore to a trip to the Dominican Republic! Whatever you can think of will be perfect. If you would like a free Shot In The Dark Mysteries mystery game certificate for your prize draw, just send me an email!!

Savvy Host Tip # 4: Wagering

This is an advanced tip (because I don’t entirely understand it myself sometimes) but our clients have had an absolute blast taking wagers as the game goes on. How it works is this: One person is designated as the mystery game bookie. As the game goes along and the information is presented, the bookie adjusts the odds and takes wagers on the identity of the perp. At the end, those who wagered correctly get a pay out. If you’re not comfortable using real money, you can use Monopoly money or tokens for prizes.

Savvy Host Tip #5: Start the fun during the introduction

During the game introduction, as the suspects are introduced to the group, have them raise their hands to introduce themselves to everyone as their character, and point them out to any guests who may not know who are playing suspects ahead of time. Take it one step further and get the other suspects to cheer or jeer them.

Savvy Host Tip #6: Set the mood with music

Depending on the theme of your event, the mood can be set with soft background music. Pirate themed murder mystery game? Get some sea chanties to play in the background. Spy-themed mystery game? How about some opera music or classical? Le Chat Noir? Go for some contemporary or classic jazz. It can be as easy as raiding your iTunes, downloading new music from the genre, taking a quick trip to your local record store or popping into a used CD store (Go Green!)

Savvy Host Tip #7: Plan a fantastic menu

Your theme will usually dictate your menu, but for some great murder mystery party menu ideas, check out our friends at Cheers All Year.

These are just a few tips we’ve gathered from facilitating custom mystery games and emails about mystery party games our clients have hosted. If you have a suggestion, send it to!

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