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)...it 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:
|Accusation sheets for the detectives to solve the mystery|
|Name tags for the suspects|
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|
Have you ever attended a murder mystery party, and would you host one of your own?
Linking up with Leslie, Michelle, and Courtney!