Hosting the Optimal Mystery Party:
Hosting a mystery party is an art. You've got the perfect My Mystery Party game at your fingertips, and now it's time to set the stage and ensure your guests are engrossed from start to finish. Here's how you can ensure the night is a smashing success:
Launch the Pre-Game Round:
Our games all have a pre-game round where the players will kick off the roleplaying in their characters during the week leading to the party by contacting each other with pre-game messages (i.e., tasks), and viewing the pre-game site at Your Mystery Party for their game. This gets players acclimated to their roles, gives them a reason to read the bios of other characters, encourages them to view the pre-game site, and the tasks introduce them to broad storylines. There are no spoilers and the pre-game tasks are not mandatory, but they have been shown to reduce no-shows and definitely get your guests excited about your event. Once the pre-game begins, expect to have your guest list grow as the word gets out about the party.
Set the Scene:
The ambiance can make or break a mystery party. Transform your venue to match the theme. Use lighting, music playing ever so softly in the background, and décor to immerse your guests into the storyline. Try to hit on all senses for your guests from the. moment they enter your space until they leave. This will leave a lasting impression and cater to great memories of your party.
- Use dim lighting or candlelight to create a suspenseful atmosphere.
- Place colored bulbs, like dark purples, blues, or reds, in regular lamps to give rooms a moody glow.
- Utilize LED candles, especially in places where real flames may be hazardous.
- Blacklight can make white and neon items pop, adding to a surreal atmosphere.
Music and Sound:
- Create a playlist with eerie and suspenseful soundtracks from mystery films and shows.
- Use sound effects apps or recordings that provide occasional distant thunder, creaking doors, or haunting whispers
- Vintage items can evoke a classic murder mystery feel. Think old typewriters, rotary phones, or gramophones.
- Use velvet drapes or curtains to give rooms an opulent or gothic atmosphere.
- Scatter faux cobwebs and place plastic spiders or bats in strategic locations.
- Incorporate themed decor according to your mystery's setting, such as Egyptian artifacts for a mummy mystery or old books and scrolls for a wizard's murder.
- Use incense or candles with mysterious aromas like sandalwood, patchouli, or musk.
- A fog machine can add both a visual and olfactory element to the party.
Dress to Impress:
Encourage your guests to come in character-appropriate attire. Whether it's the roaring '20s, a haunted mansion theme, or a classic whodunit setting, costumes add depth and intrigue.
Ahead of the party, send out a brief character background to each guest. This doesn't have to reveal any secrets but will give them a sense of their role and motivations. My Mystery Party has character bios associated with the free, downloadable invitations and on the pre-game site for each game theme. More difficult games often have expanded bios on the pre-game site so the players can get acclimated to the back story before the party with even some having a website for each character or an associated fictional corporate to review.
Start the evening with ice-breaker games or activities. This helps guests ease into their characters and sets the tone for the night.
1. Character Backstory Sharing:
- Each person introduces themselves in character, sharing a brief backstory about their role.
2. Two Truths and a Lie (Character Edition):
- Each player gives three statements about their character: two truths and one lie. Others guess which statement is the fabricated one.
3. Props Introduction:
- Provide each guest with a prop related to their character. Players then explain (in-character) the significance of the prop to their persona.
4. First Impressions:
- Players take turns standing in the center of the room. Others circle around and make an in-character first impression statement about the central person.
5. Character Charades:
- Classic game of charades, but using clues related to the mystery theme or the characters involved.
6. Diary Entry:
- Each player writes a quick 'diary entry' from the perspective of their character about the events leading up to the party. These can then be shared aloud. This should be generic and written from the information in their bio.
7. "Hot Seat" Interrogation:
- One player sits in the "hot seat" while others take turns asking them in-character questions. The player answers in-character, improvising as needed.
8. The Mysterious Compliment:
- Everyone writes an in-character compliment for another player. These are read aloud, and recipients guess who wrote theirs.
9. Secret Word:
- Each player is given a secret word related to their character. Throughout the evening, they must try to incorporate the word into their conversations as naturally as possible.
Starting with one or more of these icebreakers not only eases guests into the party atmosphere but also gives them a clearer understanding of their character, making the whole experience more engaging and fun.
Keep the Pace:
Monitor the progression of the game. Each one of My Mystery Party's games will have an example timeline. You should have this with you, as the host, during the event. If you sense things are slowing down or people are getting stuck, consider dropping a hint or revealing an unexpected clue to re-energize the group. Some of the more challenging games may come with hints to use.
Some games have interactive elements, such as the bonus clues for either round one or two. We suggest you choose the more interactive and engaging options from the host instructions for disseminating these clues - instead of just handing them out to each player. Some games might have group challenges, which will increase the excitement and encourage team building.
Refreshments and Eats:
Themed snacks and drinks can greatly enhance the experience. Think "Bloody" Marys, "Poison" apple pastries, or "Murderous" chocolate truffles. The more creative, the better!
General ideas for food and drink:
- Serve beverages in ornate or unusual glassware.
- Use dry ice to give drinks a misty, mysterious look.
- Rename typical dishes and drinks with theme-appropriate names, e.g., "Murderer's Meatloaf" or "Phantom Punch."
Document the Evening:
Our host instructions always remind you to snap a group photo when everyone arrives. This is the photo to post on social media or online anywhere - not the victim's photo or the murderer in cuffs, as that's a spoiler to the game. But more importantly - this photo will be cherished by all for years to come.
Set up a photo booth or designated photo area with props related to the game's theme. It's a great way for guests to remember the night. There are services that will provide the 360 degrees photo booths that add more engaging activities and a way for each guest to have something to remember the party by - digitally.
A Strong Conclusion:
In round three, set the tone for ending the evening with a dramatic revelation. Ensure this moment is given the importance it deserves – dim the lights, gather everyone around, and maybe even play some suspenseful music - but not too loud, as the players need to hear everyone's solutions. The murderer always confesses at the end for a thrilling conclusion.
Token of Appreciation:
We always suggest, if you have time and the budget, to host an end-of-the-night awards ceremony. Consider giving guests a memento from the evening. It could be a themed keepsake or even just a photo from the booth. But if you host an awards ceremony, that can add to the hilarity - especially if you have sassy and snarky awards included among the good ones. My Mystery Party does have a 12-pack of either downloable or printed award certificates.
Here are some ideas if you wish to make your own:
1. Master Detective:
For the player or team who successfully solves the mystery.
2. Best Character Portrayal:
For the individual who stayed in character flawlessly and added depth to their role.
3. Most Dramatic Reveal:
For the player who had the most memorable reaction or revelation moment.
4. Best Costume:
For the guest with the most outstanding or authentic costume.
5. Scene Stealer:
For the player who had the most memorable or impactful moment during the game.
6. Best Accusation:
Awarded to the player with the most creative or entertaining accusation, regardless of its accuracy.
7. Best Alibi:
For the player who had the most creative or believable backstory or excuse when questioned.
8. The Red Herring Award:
For the player who was the most misleading or distracted others from the real clues.
9. Best Teamwork:
For a group or pair who collaborated effectively throughout the game.
10. Most Creative Interrogator:
For the player who had the most unique approach to questioning others.
11. Funniest Moment:
Awarded to a player responsible for the most comedic moment or line of the evening.
12. Most Immersed Player:
For the player who got most involved, whether they were right about the mystery or not.
13. Best Prop Use:
For the player who utilized a prop in the most creative or memorable way.
A mystery party is more than just a game—it's an experience. By focusing on the ambiance, ensuring active participation, and adding personal touches, you'll be sure to create an unforgettable evening of suspense and camaraderie. Enjoy the thrill of the night!