Sit down formal dinner

by Helen Tews
(Knoxville TN USA)

I am going to host a party for 11 people plus myself and it is a sit down seven course formal dinner. Should I have the dinner first and then surprise everybody with the fact that we're going to play murder mystery game after they've eaten?

These are all people in the family and they know each other well. It happens to be the 28th birthday of one of the young girls.

This group loves to play games when they get together but they've never done an interactive game like this to my knowledge.

They will all love it and get into it but I'm struggling with picking the right game for 11 players and whether we can still eat while we're playing or not.

I looked at Dazzled to Death as one option or possibly Death on the Gambia. I would like your advice on the choice of game and I'd like your advice on how we can play the game and eat a seven course formal meal or whether we should not even mention the game till after the meal is over and then start.

I didn't see anywhere on your website that said how long this game is supposed to last.

The guests are arriving at 6 o'clock for cocktails and dinner will start about 40 minutes later but I can move that up to earlier if I need to.

Many thanks for your advice

My response:

Thanks for your question.

The games themselves take about 2 to 2.5 hours of playing time, but that excludes any introductions or winding down. So I would normally allow at least 3.5 hours.

As to whether to inform them in advance or not, I would definitely let them know in advance - for several reasons.

First, it lets them costume.

Second, it's exciting.

Third, if you want you can send out characters in advance, which means that they will need less preparing before they play.

However, I'm not quite sure how that fits in with a seven course formal meal. I guess it depends on how flexible you can be with the meal, and whether you are doing it or whether others are doing it.

If you have the space and time, it would be easy to start the game, break off for the meal (or just a course or two) then then pick the game up after the meal.

As for which game, I would normally suggest Dazzled to Death over Death on the Gambia because the setting suits a sit-down meal much better. But if you do that you'll have to deal with the fact that you will be one player short. (See my Tips for Hosts page for ways to deal with this.)

I hope that helps!

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