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How to Host a (Bookish) Murder Mystery Party

If you’re trying to figure out what type of party to have with your book club or maybe just your bookish friends, I’ve got you covered! I’m going to show you how to host a murder mystery party – book club style!

I will be matching up some favorite books with Murder Mystery Themes! I’m taking all the guesswork out of it for you! We learned how to host a murder mystery party a few years ago for my daughter’s 16th birthday! I have to say, planning a murder mystery party was much easier than expected! And, it was the perfect solution – inexpensive, easy and a lot of fun for all!

We wound up choosing a Murder Mystery Party from Shot in the Dark. It was a Masquerade party set in Venice, Italy. We chose to go with Shot in the Dark because we had a small group of all girls!. Most games are already set for you, but with Shot in the Dark, we were able to accommodate our group!

How to Host a Murder Mystery Party

Here’s what we’ll walk through in this post: 1) guest list, 2) choose a theme, 3) planning your murder mystery party. Pretty easy, right?! By the end of this post, you should know which theme is right for you and have some great ideas for getting it all together!

Murder mystery birthday party checklist

Your Guest List

The first thing you need to figure out is how many people you intend to have at your party. You’ll also need to know how many of each gender. If you have an even mix of male/female your choices open up and you can go with pretty much any game out there. But, if you have an all-girl party or an uneven mix, then check the prior to purchase to make sure it accommodates your group!

Some of the Murder Mystery themes can accommodate groups of 20 or more. So, even if you have a large group, you should be able to find the perfect Murder Mystery theme to fit your needs!

How to throw an awesome murder mystery party for your book club!

Bookish Murder Mystery Themes

There are so many great mystery party ideas for adults. So, for this article, I’ve culled the best murder mystery parties that paired well with books!

1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Who doesn’t love Sherlock Holmes?! This murder mystery theme is a little different than the rest. You will be combining efforts to solve Sherlock’s cases. Everything you need is included in the box!

  • A new standalone box for Sherlock Holmes consulting detective
  • Cooperate with your friends to solve each case in a shared deductive experience
  • An utterly unique game structure draws you into the world of Sherlock Holmes

To learn more about this murder mystery theme, just click here!

host a murder mystery party, Sherlock Holmes themed

To learn more about the book, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, just click here!

2. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

While this isn’t a “Harry Potter” specific murder mystery, if you are a fan of the boy wizard, you’ll enjoy this murder mystery!

  • A hilarious witch & wizard themed murder mystery party game for 14+ years and up.
  • A Witch & Wizard Murder Mystery for 6 – 10 guests
  • Name tags, menu suggestions with recipes, Party Host Checklist, Guest List Worksheet

To learn more about this fun murder mystery theme, just click here!

planning a murder mystery party, Harry Potter-ish themed

To learn more about the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, just click here!

 

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you like the Great Gatsby and the Roaring 20’s, then I have several great murder mystery theme options for you! Each is unique and offers different choices, so just see which one fits your needs best!

To learn more about the Grand Gatsby Speakeasy murder mystery theme, just click here!

 

To learn more about A Gangster Murder at the Speakeasy murder mystery, just click here!

 

To learn more about A Flapper Murder mystery, just click here!

To learn more about The Sly Mr. Foxx murder mystery, just click here!

https://youtu.be/6V4YdwN8P0o

To learn more about The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, just click here!

 

4. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

If you are a Jane Austen fan, or maybe even a Downton Abbey fan, then you’ll love these choices! There is both an indoor (in the manor house) option and an outdoor (garden party) option. I love the idea of having an outdoor murder mystery party!

To learn more about the Stirling Hall murder mystery theme, just click here!

To learn more about the Garden Party murder mystery theme, just click here!

To learn more about Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, just click here!

 

6. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

If swashbuckling pirates are what you and your book-loving friends are into, then you might want to host a murder mystery party based on pirates! The captain has been found murdered, and the whole crew of salty scoundrels are the suspects!

To learn more about this pirate murder mystery theme, just click here!

https://youtu.be/AmS0nDvrcm0

To learn more about Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, just click here!

 

7. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Who doesn’t love Alice in Wonderland?! Such a clever, warped story. And, a fun one to have a murder mystery around. The party takes place two weeks after Alice’s original descent into Wonderland. But now, the Caterpillar is found murdered below his mushroom! Everyone is a suspect!

To learn more about this Alice in Wonderland murder mystery theme, just click here!

To learn more about the book Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, just click here!

Murder mystery birthday party checklist

Planning a Murder Mystery Party

There are a few things to keep in mind when planning a murder mystery party. One, the mix of friends or family is important. You want a group of people who will get into character and have fun with it. Once you have your guests figured out, the second most important decision is your theme. Pick one that will be easy to find costumes, to decorate with and plan food for.

Ok, having said that, let’s get to planning your murder mystery party! Most murder mystery party packages will give you lots of information about the flow of the event and food and decoration ideas.

The typical flow is something like this:

Appetizers

Mix and mingle in character. This will probably be a little awkward because guests don’t really know their character very well, and well, it’s kinda weird pretending you’re someone else. But, let it go and let it happen. Your guests will get into it, and it will get better!

Main Meal

Whether you do dinner or lunch will depend on your party timing. We did dinner during our parties. If it’s a small group of guests you can just serve family-style with everything on the table. If it’s a bigger group, you may want to set the food up buffet style.

For one of our parties, the guests weren’t allowed to talk “murder” during dinner. It was my daughter’s 16th birthday, so it gave the girls time to just chat, which they enjoyed! Your theme may have more things for the guests to reveal and uncover during the meal, so roll with what is suggested.

Dessert

It seems that a lot of the parties have 3 “acts” to them. If that is the case, the murder will be  solved during the dessert time. This is again, a time for mingling and lots of talking. Your guests will be comfortable in their character at this point and it will be a lot of fun. Keep dessert easy and mobile! It’s a lot of fun to watch it all come together. The clues start being pieces together, accusations start being thrown out…the murderer will be revealed soon!

Tips:

  • We had the appetizers and desserts in a room where guests could mingle easily. Choose what works for the space you have! Your porch, backyard, family room…make use of your space!
  • We used shower curtains for decorating walls. It was a cheap and easy way to cover large spaces. This was our Venice, Italy backdrop. And this was our marble walls.
  • Keep the food simple! You don’t want to spend your time in the kitchen, so have food that doesn’t need any work at the last minute! Finger foods for appetizers and desserts work well.
  • If possible, have one or two adults or teens that can act as waiters/servers during the party. We did this at one party and it really helped the flow go much smoother. They were able to get dinner on the table during the appetizer/mingling time. Then, during dinner cleaned up the appetizers and set out the desserts. It made for really smooth transition times.

Wrap Up

You’ve now got a lot of great information and are ready to go out and host a murder mystery party for some of your favorite people! These murder mystery party kits are wonderful and take all the guesswork out of the day!

A murder mystery party is a great way to wrap up your book club for the year, or just a fun evening for a group of bookish friends is to host a murder mystery party! With a little planning ahead and prep ahead of time, you can have a really fun and memorable night!

Just keep in mind, figure out your guest list and then work on the theme! Keep the space open to make mingling easier. Prepare the food ahead of time so you aren’t spending the party in the kitchen. And, have fun!

Murder mystery birthday party checklist

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