Finding the perfect murder venue...
(Tips for choosing a venue for your murder mystery party)
By Steve Hatherley
Where you choose to host your murder mystery party can have a big effect its success or otherwise. While you are busy organising guests and sorting out the game, it can be easy to forget some of the other, perhaps more mundane, aspects of hosting a party - such as where you're going to host it.
Here then are my tips for choosing or preparing a venue for your murder mystery party game.
Size matters: The size of your venue is probably your most important consideration. After all, you do need to make sure you can fit everyone in. In general, interactive murder mystery games (such as Hollywood Lies or Murder at the Four Deuces) involve your guests in their own private conversations. As a result, this tends to mean that the party will spill out into corners and corridors and side rooms. While I'm happy to encourage that, there are some areas I don't want my guests going into, so I tend to post notices saying which areas are "off limits" to guests.
If you're holding a dinner party style game, you will of course, need somewhere for everyone to sit and eat.
Food and Drink: Even if you're not serving food, you will need to have refreshments on hand (murder mysteries make for thirsty work). And that means that you'll need the space to serve them and maybe access to a kitchen.
If you are serving a buffet, you will need space both for the buffet itself and also for people to sit and eat. And if you are having a sit-down meal, you will need space for the dinner - and you may also need space away from the dining tables for people to talk quietly (particularly if you've chosen a dinner party game).
Breakables: I hope I'm not stating the obvious here, but please do look around your venue and secure or remove anything breakable. While nobody plans to break things, accidents can happen when everyone gets caught up in the party spirit...
So if you've got anything delicate or precious, it's best to remove it from harm's way - just in case.
Play Safe: While I'm on the subject of breakages - please make sure that your venue is a safe venue. Watch out for trip hazards (such as cables, toys and the like), low tables (to bang shins on) and sharp edges.
If you have guests with limited mobility attending, you need to consider your venue even more carefully.
Lighting: It can be very tempting to dim the lights to create an appropriately mysterious atmosphere for your party - but do take care. Game materials (character packs, etc) will be harder to read in dim light, and also stairs and other potential trip hazards will be harder to negotiate.
Anachronisms: For historical games you might want to remove your television, lava lamps and computers to a spare room. (If you can't move your television, you could cover it with a blanket.)
Fire: Candles and lanterns can create a great atmosphere but they also come with a huge fire risk. I'd certainly think twice (if not three times) before allowing them, and I'd want to make sure that I'd minimised the risk of them getting out of hand.
(I once hosted a Christmas party with lots of Christmas decorations and candles. About half way through one guest came up to me and asked "Is that decoration supposed to be on fire?" Luckily we caught it before any serious damage was done.)
Insurance: If you're hiring a hall or a hotel function space or similar, you need to check if you're covered for insurance. If not, the venue should be able to advise you further.
Parking: Does your murder mystery venue have enough parking? These days, most of your guests will drive to your venue (unless you're hosting it in a location with excellent public transport) so you need to make sure that everyone will be able to park. When working out how much parking you need allow one car per couple, plus one car per individual or single guest - and then add a few car spaces for those couples that for whatever reason decide to come separately.
If parking isn't obvious, you will have to tell everyone where to park when you send out directions. Speaking of which...
Location Plan: This may
sound obvious, but don't forget to include directions to your venue to
your guests. I tend to err on the side of caution on this point - I'd
send the directions to everyone, no matter how obvious or easily-found
you think the venue is.
I think that's about it for your murder mystery venue. If you have additional any comments or suggestions, click here to send me your own tip or request me to write another (see the form at the bottom of the page).
This article may be re-published as long as the following paragraph is included at the end of article and as long as you link to the URL:
Article by Steve Hatherley. Find out more about hosting interactive murder mystery games for your friends and family at http://www.great-murder-mystery-games.com.