For our Watersdown Affair Murder Mystery last year, Don’s character was Donald J. Brooks, and Stella, stunning as always, was Miranda T. Shetes, a beautiful and talented actress!
Are You “Dying” to Entertain More?
I love to entertain, and I love anything that involves a costume. That being said, you will find that many of our parties have some sort of “theme” so that costumes can be involved! I think getting into costume brings out many people’s hidden “fun zone!” They are far less inhibited than they might normally be, once they don a costume!
Entertaining comes so naturally to me that I am always amazed by the number of people who don’t know where or how to begin when it comes to throwing a party. I love putting on any type of party, which is why I host a monthly Bunko, a monthly Book Club, gamenights, clothing swaps, wedding showers, networking and women’s events and numerous other seasonal parties, such as Holiday and Summer parties.
How to Host a Murder…
Our guests, in costume, for The Watersdown Affair Murder Mystery. It was set in Yorkshire, England in 1936. If you are wondering why the shorts on one guest? His costume suggestion on the invitation was that of a Mountain Climber! He came, hiking “ax” and all! What a fun evening we had! This was really a fun one!
One of our FAVORITE types of parties are Murder Mystery Parties. We do a few a year. We think they are really enjoyable, they involve “costumes” and they are a small group of 8, which fits around our round dining room table just perfectly!
Friends have asked me how in the world they work, so I thought I’d share a little about them here. Putting them on is pretty darned easy- believe me- it’s no “mystery” how they work! With the “brand” of murder mysteries I put on, everything is pretty well spelled out for you, as I explain below.
The table, set for The Watersdown Affair, which was to take place in Yorkshire, England at The Watersdown Mansion in 1936.
My love for the Murder Mystery parties started about 30 years ago, when I was married to my kids’ dad. We put a number of them on then, and loved it. When Don and I got together, we decided to revisit the idea, so I did a little research on the internet to come up with some new games. The company that put out the games I had used years ago is called “How to Host a Murder.” Back in the day, those games seemed kind of pricey, but worth the money (about $35 or $40 in the 80’s.) The game came with everything you needed to put the mystery together- invitations, a tape you played at the start of the party with the “scene” set out, the list of characters, and even suggestions on what they might want to wear. In the hosts’ booklet they often gave menu suggestions, making these parties a breeze to put on!
When your “Murder” takes place in England, the decor just calls out for some crowns, don’t you think? and wouldn’t you know, I just HAPPEN to have some crowns laying around? Not to mention, my events HAVE to have a signature martini to round out the fun!
When I started looking for a newer version of the games, I found that the newer “digital” versions of the game are MUCH more pricey, often about $160.00. This just seemed ridiculous to me, so I went on Ebay and Amazon and found the older versions, from the company I had used previously, which were up for sale. Most of them are still brand new, and in their original seal. And I paid between about $8 and $16 for them! I have an old cassette player laying around, so that wasn’t a problem for me! (For those of you who aren’t dinosaurs, or aren’t “savers” give me a call, you can borrow mine if you need one!)
It is Actually Very Simple….
So in detail, this is how it works:
Each game has a specific theme, and time period.
They have 8 players, 4 female and 4 male characters.
As I said above, each character is listed with a bit about them, and a suggestion of what their attire might be.
When you decide to do one of these parties, you need to know that you have friends who are pretty reliable, and will be there once they commit. Without ALL 8 of the players/characters present, you really wouldn’t be able to play the game. So, in thinking up your guest list, think about people who would be reliable, enjoy dressing in costume, and who wouldn’t mind if a bit of the conversation has some “racey” innuendo. Trust me, when people start getting into their characters, the fun REALLY begins!
Mike, as Dr. Malcolm “Mal” Praktiss and Olha, as Dame Allison Bigh, when we did The Watersdown Affair. Funny thing is, Mike came practically screaming and kicking when he found out it was a Murder Mystery and he had to come in costume, but I think he had the most fun of all!
Once you get a date and have your 8 people, the way I find to be easiest is to scan one of the invitations, and send it to your guest list, letting them know which character they will be.
Props we placed outside our front door for our Western murder mystery, The Good, The Bad and The Guilty! . The bale of hay SEEMED like a good idea, until I found out what a HUGE mess the hay made- just sitting there! In my house, in my yard, Dons SUV from getting it there……… NEVER AGAIN with the hay bale!
The way the playing takes place is that upon arrival, every guest is given a book made specifically for their character. Instruct them not to look at it until you tell them to. When everyone is present, you play the tape that explains the situation (murder) that has happened, and gives you some details regarding the event. Guests may take notes in their playbooks. Most of the murders are divided into 4 “scenes” or chapters. In each scene, your guests will each be given specific clues which they must bring out, and others that they “may” divulge, only if asked by another character.
4 of us at our Western Murder Mystery we did last spring. This was was titled, The Good, The Bad and The Guilty, set in The Wyoming Territory 1881! Marc was Elias Truist-Heath, an “up and coming” heart-throb gunfighter. Kim, as the lengendary Butch Chastity, the first lady of outlaws. I was Elvira-Lynn Fekshin, the “consummate soiled dove” of the town (don’t miss out on the pronunciation of her name!) And Don, as Chief Breaking Wind, the distinguished leader of the Cowpai Tribe! We all had fun with our costumes for this one!
Often, there will be some pretty funny, and sometimes “racy” facts that have to be brought out, such as one character being an illegitimate child of one of the other players, or someone who is having an affair, etc. That’s why, if your crowd is too “straight laced” it may not work out too well!
Johnny as P Elvis Swagarin – a lonely gunslinger, and Geralyn as Helena Handcart, mother of the 13 “Handcart Boys.” Poor Helena lost all 13 of her boys after a gunfight at the Parkkay Coral!
Believe me when I tell you, if you have some fun friends, it’s very easy to get into character, and the whole evening becomes ridiculously fun!
Keep it Simple Silly!
As far as the menu and the food go- this is my recommendation. Figure out a way that as the hostess, you don’t have to disappear into the kitchen for long periods, or you will miss too much of the fun- and perhaps a clue or two!
I have done these parties a few different ways. How you will do it will depend on your budget. I either make sure my menu can be pretty well prepared beforehand, and will just need to be taken out of the oven at the last minute, or I get someone to help in the kitchen, and they will bring the food out and serve it, so I can stay with my guests having fun at the table. I don’t want to miss out on any more of the silliness and the banter than absolutely necessary!
If you didn’t want to worry about dealing with the food, call in for pizza! People don’t really care- they just enjoy working through the mystery and playing their parts!
The most important part of entertaining is HAVING FUN! Don’t make it stressful on yourself- make it easy- whatever “easy” is to you, so you can enjoy it!
Typically, I start the evening at 6 PM and some have lasted as late as 11, depending on the story and the story line, so we have appetizers and drinks as people arrive, go through the introduction of the scene and our characters, and then move into the dining room for scenes 1-4.
No one gets into character more than my beautiful friend Stella! Her character in this one was called Dee Adela Muerte, and she turned out to be quite the “black widow” in this murder mystery, having buried 3 husbands due to mysterious deaths!
Our table setting for our Western Murder Mystery. This one was really easy- a few yards of “patchwork” fabric sewn together and some bandanas ordered from Oriental Trading Company, tied with twine for napkin rings! Drinks were served in Mason Jar Mugs! The menu for this event was simple easy- I dida simple salad, BBQ ribs, roasted potatoes, etc. and for dessert root beer floats!
By the end of the evening, you will find that most of your friends LOVE playing the part of someone who is nothing like them, and you will have some great laughs and memories. And…… you may just find out you are a murderer! No one, not even the host, knows “who done it” until the end of the night!
Is there anyone who couldn’t come up with these fun and simple costumes from their closet? The Western theme lends itself to simplicity!
Stella played the part of Dee Adela Muerte, the thrice-widowed Mexican beauty….. And Al was Wyatt Hertz, the most famous lawman in the west!
The memories you make with these parties last for years! I still fondly remember the ones we did back in the 80’s and 90’s and the friends who attended still mention them when we get together! It’s not just another boring evening at home!
Our most recent “Murder” was last weekend, with Murder at the Mardi Gras. While we had a great time with our guests, I have to be honest and say that this wasn’t the most well written of the murder mysteries I’ve ever given. It was really lacking in detail!
This was the whole gang from our Mardi Gras event! The evening was a lot of fun, even if the mystery itself wasn’t too well written! From L-R Skip was J. Stephen Peek, family attorney, Stella was Connika Gothika, famous author, Don was Cayenne Pepper, the family chef, Patti as Alexis DuPre, reigning “Magnolia Queen”, Terry, (in front on knees) was “Gator” Crovitz, alligator fisherman, Gerri was Melissa DuPre, the trampy gold-digging wife, Adam was Bourbon DuPre, jazz musician from the French Quarter and Bella was Elise St. Gresch, the family live-in maid.