Last year I decided it was time for me to do something a little more interesting with my friends than the usual “dinner, drinks and dancing” routine that I’ve stuck with for the past 4 birthdays (hey, if it ‘aint broke and all that good stuff…).
Though last years birthday wasn’t a milestone one (unless you count it as one in the general sense of ‘well-done; you survived another year’), it was when I finally realised that my various friendship circles had never met.
And to me, there was no better way to introduce them to each other than by gathering them under one roof, and unite them in a joint quest – to stay alive and solve the mysterious murder of William, a prolific director who died in August 1920.
How did the idea for a murder mystery come about?
Let it be stated that I’ve loved thrillers and detective stories my entire life – ever since I was little and was introduced to characters like Hercule Poirot, Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, The Adventures of Hal and Rodger, and later on in television Murder She Wrote, Lie to Me, The Mentalist, NCIS, and more! – In fact, I’ve always thought I’d missed my calling as a kick-ass crime solver. ^_~ So after attending a murder mystery dinner written by my good friend (and 2nd cousin) Wayne R, I realised that this festive approach would be the perfect way to ring in my 28th birthday. We struck an accord (ooh, doesn’t that sound pirate-like) and he dutifully began casting my friends as characters while I furiously trolled Pinterest to collect a sample of Gatsby / 1920s / gangsters and glamour themes, decor and food ideas.
– Having Wayne play host (and butler) for me, while I got to mingle and chat with everyone (he’s an angel!) – this also allowed me to be completely oblivious to who the killer was, so I could enjoy the fun and suspense of the night alongside my friends
– Having a little table in the entry hall with props on it to set the mood as soon as people arrived (Gin bottle, hollywood scene board, long cigarette holder, long pearls, feather boa, etc)
– Inviting more than 10 guests – you have more suspects to narrow down and with more people participating, those who aren’t part of theatre felt less shy when give their fledgling acting a try, and there was always someone new to question
– Planning the party fairly early in the month (rather than having it as a last-minute thing)
– Not having a formal sit down dinner and serving finger food platters (it’s far easier to mingle, with less interruptions / opportunities to fall out of character)
– Opening bubbly and giving everyone a welcome drink as they arrived (that in itself was very Gatsby-ish). As I’m not made of money I served a sweet , delightful bubbly that cost slightly over R40 a bottle from Pick ‘n Pay.
– Ensuring there was a dedicated drinks area (the bubbly station became the bar after a half-hour)
– Creating a broad theme for the party – Gangsters & Glamour encompassed styles which ranged from the 1920s – 1950s, which ensured everyone could dress up and get into character (as opposed to feeling awkward in the usual jeans & a t-shirt)
– Cupcakes – were a welcome dessert after the game, and were quick and easy to whip out
What Didn’t Work
– High heels on the outside lawn – should have seen this one coming
– Having everyone amalgamate outside due to the heat of the day, without knowing where the outside lights were for when the sun set – which resulted in hubby going home to fetch a few camping lanterns to light up the outdoors (oops)\
– Putting out extra flowers around the house, which were a nice touch for me, but hidden in the greater scheme of things
Needless to say, with champagne flowing, finger foods being passed around, clue cards handed out, and everyone putting aside their nerves and just taking part, the entire night was a smashing success! And though our darling murderess walked away free and clear (pictured below in the red and black dress), everyone had a rip-roaring good time, complete with appropriate Jazz era hits playing softly in the background.
If you’re interested in having a murder mystery planned for an upcoming event, contact Wayne R (who will have a website with sample scripts coming out mid-March 2015) ^_~
Have you ever thrown a murder mystery party before? What theme did you pick?