Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Party Planner: A Murder Mystery

As a former actress who still works in the theater, it's fair to say that I've always had a flair for the dramatic. Despite having a phobia of horror movies (or really, anything remotely scary), I've always loved Halloween because it's one of the very few times that it's acceptable for adults to play dress up! Pretty costumes, dramatic makeup, an aura of mystery, lots of glitter (and candy) sounds good to me! I usually host an annual Sweet Treats cocktail party for Halloween, but this year I decided to put a new twist on it by turning the party into something I've always wanted to try ever since I saw it on The Golden Girls back in the 80s (and let's face it, those ladies knew how to party)...a murder mystery night! 

I searched online for some free murder mystery games (there are plenty out there) and settled on a particularly soapy tale entitled The Sour Grapes of Wrath, thus satisfying both my bookworm and wino sides. As always, it just isn't a party until I demand that M creates some printables to set the tone (and if you're in the market for any custom prints, make sure you check out her Etsy shop). She played off of the story's vineyard setting by using a bleeding grape motif in each of the printables:

Favor tags

Accusation sheets for the detectives to solve the mystery

Name tags for the suspects
Since I'm a firm believer that you can never have too many custom signs at parties (after all, they all enhance the theme!), I slapped a "Poison" label on my drink pitcher which happened to be filled with something much tastier than poison - the signature cocktail! I created a frozen grape martini to stick with the vineyard theme (recipe coming soon).

One of my favorite ways of incorporating the Halloween spirit into the decor was by offering each guest a welcome shot in a test tube. They were so adorable, and the pumpkin pie cream liquor they contained was also a big hit.

Unfortunately, the test tube rack I ordered to hold them was a bit precarious, so I had to come up with Plan B (and like we mentioned when we guest posted on Pam's blog, you always need to build in extra time to deal with the unexpected hurdles that inevitably surprise you right before the party). Luckily, M and I had a quick phone chat and she came up with the brilliant idea of using flutes to hold the tubes, which wound up looking even cuter.

Each guest received a gift bag that contained a mini bottle of wine and (of course) lots of candy.

Oh, and here's a close-up of the pretty autumnal flowers, just because I love you.

Onto my newest party obsession - the photo booth wall! I have to admit that living in a studio apartment presents some challenges for hosting - namely, that there is NO extra space! I worked around that issue by draping some crepe paper, a glitter skull banner, a metallic Halloween sign, and some caution tape around my closet doors. My favorite find for the photo booth wall is that long leaf strand - it's hard to see in the picture but it actually contained hanging clusters of red grapes!

This next part of the decor is probably my favorite, and was actually an unplanned, last-minute project. The day before the party, I had the idea to steal funny pictures of each of the "suspects" from Facebook, print out enlarged copies, and hang them on a "suspect wall" with their name tags. It was functional since it helped the detectives remember their character names and relationship to the victim, but it was also pretty hilarious to watch everyone's reactions to spotting the photos. I think my favorite one is either the shirtless selfie (for the character portraying the amorous farmhand) or the one where my friend's face is blocked by her cat (because she was playing a crazy cat lady).

Once the apartment was fully decorated, it was time to lay out the snacks. Because the game was broken into six rounds and it was a dessert party, I thought it would be perfect to bring out a new dessert to feature each round. For the pre-game snacks, I set up a bunch of munchies - several different candies (including the yummy Screme eggs), mini peanut butter cookies, and chips and pretzels.

Throughout each round, the suspects revealed more information about their whereabouts during the crime, along with hidden secrets about their characters. The detectives had the opportunity to interrogate them and question their motives and alibis - it was really fun to see people getting into the spirit of the game! As the host, I portrayed the game's victim, Elizabeth Killingsworth, and read aloud the scenario for each round (this also led to me being dubbed the "ghostess").

Despite my best intentions, I got caught up in the whirlwind of the game and unfortunately did not capture a snap of each of the desserts, but here's how they broke down:

Round 1 - Pumpkin dip with gingersnaps, vanilla wafers, and sliced apples

Round 2 - Pumpkin ice cream sandwiches

Round 3 - Raspberry tart

Round 4 - Bourbon pumpkin pie milkshakes:

Round 5 - Fresh berry skewers

Round 6 - Yellow cake with chocolate buttercream

All of these were winners, but I would say the pumpkin dip and the milkshakes were the most popular (recipes coming soon).

After the game concluded, our shady suspects had some fun in front of the photo booth wall (and in case you stumbled upon our little blog while searching for information about The Sour Grapes of Wrath, the photos below contain spoilers about the mystery's solution so read at your own risk!):

Enrique Graves (The Farmhand) and Dr. Chelsea Barron (The Neighbor)

Dr. Chelsea Barron (The Neighbor) and Kathryn Lawless (The Friend) may cause a second murder at Killingsworth Farm!

Norman D'Adly (The Brother-in-Law) is once again using a wine corkscrew, his favorite murder weapon - this time he has his eyes on Detective Carol, who is holding her prize for solving the mystery and pinning Norman as the murderer!

The cast and the Ghostess

The detectives
The party was an amazing night thanks to the commitment of the suspects and detectives - everyone truly got into character and relished their roles, which made it so much more fun! Even the detectives adhered to my (slightly ridiculous) request that they all dress in dark, funeral-appropriate garb (hey, the suspects all had costumes, so I figured they should try to be authentic, too!). We finished the night by grabbing some more beverages at a bar down the street, and I'm still working on getting rid of all these leftover desserts and candy!

Have you ever attended a murder mystery party, and would you host one of your own?


Linking up with Leslie, Michelle, and Courtney!


  1. OMG This is such a fun idea! Love what you guys came up with to hold the test tube shots! And all the decor is so cute!

    <3, Pamela

  2. I absolutely think you guys have outdone yourselves with this party!! So much fun! Wish I lived closer so I could have invited myself over LOL!

  3. oh my gosh this is above and beyond. friends of mine did a party like this (i wasnt invited, sobs) and yours looks so fun!

  4. This looks like a blast! I've always wanted to go to a murder mystery party!

  5. Wow...this looks like sooo much fun :) Everyone is obviously really into it, and having a great time! Love all the decor and snacks!

  6. What a fun party theme! Love all of the great ideas, thanks for sharing!
    xo, Whitney and Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

  7. This party is AMAZING! I love the attention to detail you put into your planning! Thanks for the shout out! Save me a Screme Egg, hehe!

  8. Y'all and parties never fail to amaze me. The gift bags are adorable and I love all of the details (shocker). Great job!

  9. I LOVE that the Golden Girls was your inspiration - that was one of my favorite episodes ever!
    You are so creative and thoughtful with your planning, girl. This is absolutely incredible and so well put together. The bourbon pumpkin pie milkshake sounds UNREAL and that cake is absolutely gorgeous! Seriously, well done overall - so fun and creative! I've always wanted to do a murder mystery party/event (probably also because of The Girls) but never have - this may be my ultimate motivation to get my ass in gear and plan!

  10. Um can you come throw my halloween party for me please?!! this is amazing!

  11. Bourbon Pumpkin Pie milkshakes? YES PLEASE!! What an awesome party!

  12. Girl I am always so impressed with your attention to detail! That party looked amazing I wish I lived closer so I could invite myself ;-)

  13. Looks like an awesome party! The photo booth wall is so fun and the bourbon pumpkin pie milkshake sounds amazing!


  14. That looks like an amazing part! You went all out!!
    Those decorations are the best!

  15. Wow, this looks like fun! I really want that pumpkin dip now.

    Thanks so much for linking up to WYWW!

  16. This looks like so much fun! Definitely something I will have to keep in mind for next year. Oh, and I totally agree, the more custom signs the better! :)

    Caitlin @ Coffee with Caitlin

  17. Murder Mystery dinners are so much fun!! My family would have one for someones birthday and we would get our characters before and come dresses in costume. It is such a fun time!!

  18. That is SO cool!! Amazing! I love it! What a great idea, I'm definitely storing that one away for down the road. Although the test tube shots sounds like a great idea immediately! Fun! This is super creative, really well done, great job!
    And, thanks so much for linking up!!

  19. This murder mystery party looks so awesome! I have attended one before but it wasn't as detailed and cool as yours! And thanks for joining in on my Friday Favorites link up. Please join us anytime :)

  20. The event planning pro is extremely responsive. I'm pretty sure he has a hundred weddings/events to coordinate at any given time, but still manages to respond to me within a few hours. I can tell what's on my mind to him straight and he won't get offended.


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B & M

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