What makes for a great murder mystery party kit?

Use a murder mystery party kit to spice up your next party or social gathering with a dash of suspense and a sprinkle of theatrical flare. Murder mystery parties are becoming a trend in social gatherings, offering a delightful mixture of suspense, fun, and interactive entertainment.

As a host, it's natural to feel nervous about ensuring everyone's enjoyment, particularly if you’re new to murder mystery games. (And even old hands like me sometimes get stage fright!) But fear not; with a well-structured murder mystery party kit, you can confidently orchestrate an event that your guests will remember for a long time.

Here are the key features I think all great murder mystery party kits include.

clear instructions

First and foremost, a great murder mystery party kit must provide clear instructions. The guide must be easy to follow, leaving no room for confusion, even for those new to murder mystery parties. From setup to resolution, the instructions should be your reliable road map.

The guidance should include:

A timetable for preparing and running the game.

  • Detailed guidance for preparing the game – what needs to be printed and what goes where.
  • Advice for casting.
  • An explanation of any rules that may be needed (some games include rules to let the characters try to poison or shoot each other).
  • Details of the different plots – including the murder plot.

Storyline and plot

The murder plot forms the backbone of any successful murder mystery game. However, great murder mystery games have more to them than just a murder – there may be many other plots happening at the same time. (This is especially true of my favourite parties – interactive murder mystery party games described here.)

And, of course, the murder must be possible to solve the murder! I’ve created a guide to solving a murder that you can share with your guests.

interesting characters

Interesting characters are crucial to interactive murder mystery parties. High-quality kits provide characters with goals, interconnected backgrounds – and secrets. I find fully interactive characters with goals and motivations so much fun!

An ideal character for an interactive murder mystery will have the following:

  • A detailed background explaining why they are present and any dark secrets
  • Independent goals for them to achieve during the party
  • Links and connections to the other characters
  • Suggested prompts to talk to other characters about

different group sizes

Good murder mystery parties also cater to different group sizes. Party kits should be adaptable to accommodate different numbers of guests – without changing the game dramatically.
I remember this was always a challenge for the boxed games in stores – they were usually written for 6 or 8 couples and were inflexible on numbers.

Modern murder mystery games, particularly interactive ones, cater for a range of player numbers (and different genders too).

Content rating

Content rating helps match a murder mystery game with your guests. Murder mystery parties deal with themes of crime and murder and other sensitive subjects, so you should be aware of what they contain before you click “buy.”

(Please note, though, that these games are murder mysteries, and the characters in them are unlikely to be angels. After all – without a murderer, there can’t be a murder. However, the games don’t have graphic descriptions of sex, violence, or drugs – there’s nothing you wouldn’t expect from a typical soap opera.)

A way to resolve disputes

Interactive games give your guests characters with conflicting agendas – clashes and disputes may arise. A great murder mystery kit provides a way to resolve those disputes, often by having an impartial host to manage the game and keep the fun and entertainment quotient intact.

What do you bring?

So, if the murder mystery party kit is so great – what does the host bring? They bring the things the kit can’t do:

  • Guests: you need to invite your guests.
  • Venue: You need to find a venue. Your guests will want to spread out in an interactive game, so ensure you have enough space for everyone. (I’ve written more on choosing a murder mystery party venue here.)
  • Décor: While the kit may provide décor ideas (and even if it doesn’t, a quick Google search will fix that), it won’t provide the décor itself.
  • Food and refreshments: You’ll have to arrange food and beverages. Interactive murder mystery parties involve a lot of talking, so provide plenty of beverages for your thirsty guests. While some murder mystery games suit a formal dinner, others (particularly the interactive ones) require everyone to mingle and are better suited to finger food.
  • Costuming: Many games provide costume hints – but they can’t provide the costumes themselves. Even if they don’t provide costume hints, a quick Google search will reveal plenty of suggestions.

This all sounds great! What do I do next?

If you want to buy a murder mystery kit and host a murder mystery party, then I suggest you do the following:

  1. First, check out Choosing a Murder Mystery Party Game to choose the game that suits your party best. (There are dozens of games to choose from, so take your time.)
  2. Second, review my Tips for Hosts for helpful advice about hosting murder mystery parties.
  3. Third, review my Tips for Guests to see if there are any tips you would like to share with your guests.
  4. Finally, once you’ve had your party - tell me how it went! Click here to tell me your murder mystery party story.

Good luck!

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Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

New game

Cover for A Purrfect Murder

A Purrfect Murder - a cat-themed murder mystery for 9-12 guests.

Don't know where to start?

Here's my suggested quick route through the site:

Step 1 - Go to Choosing a Game to choose the game that suits your party best.

Step 2 - Review the Tips for Hosts for helpful advice.

Step 3 - If you want to keep up to date with the latest murder mystery game news, click on my What's New page.

Step 4 - Once you've had your party - tell me how it went! Click here to tell me your murder mystery party story.

Got a question? Click here to go to the FAQ.

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