{Murder of a Millionaire}

Monday, October 31, 2011

So I threw my husband a surprise party for his 30th birthday. But this was no normal surprise party. We hosted a murder mystery party that turned out to be a ton of fun.

It all started with me looking into us going somewhere for a murder mystery. For those of you in the Oklahoma City area, I read a lot of awesome reviews about the Stone Lion Inn in Guthrie. It sounds like a deadly good time. You can read more about the Stone Lion Inn here.

The Stone Lion Inn sounded like a fun option, but all our friends and family wouldn't get to come with us. So I started looking online to see if I could hire a crew of actors to come to my house.....what was I thinking? That was completely unrealistic. But while searching, I found complete murder mysteries that you can buy and download where your friends and family play the parts. {I will admit that it's not quite as scary that way, but it is a lot of fun!}

I actually found a large number of sites that sell murder mysteries online, but I landed on http://www.nightofmystery.com/. They have mysteries in almost every genre you can imagine. There are Cruise Ship Murders, Sin City Murders, Under the Big Top Murders, there is even a Ho, Ho, Homicide. : ) That makes me laugh.

They also have clean versions (meaning there are no references to alcohol or infidelity) that are appropriate for youth groups, church groups, and teens. And they have non murder mysteries. I'm not sure what the mystery is, but if you're afraid of getting hacked, that may be the best route for you.

Here is what I learned about hosting a murder mystery and how it all works:
You have to know almost an exact number of how many people you'll have in attendance at your murder mystery. You buy the mystery based on the number of people that will be there. I had to buy a 20-80 person mystery since we had 35 people RSVP.

There were 20 main characters and then an additional 10 characters that you can add as many times as you need to to fill your guests list. Everyone gets to play and be involved. It really is a ton of fun.

Once you buy a mystery, http://www.nightofmystery.com/ sends you a PDF file of everything you need to know. There is a Host Guide that is extremely helpful in planning your event. Before the party, you have to assign parts to everyone coming and either send them an invite via snail mail or email. You can download PDFs that you can send via email that are specific to each character.

Once I assigned all the guests to a character, I shot them an email with their character synopsis. (There was no time for the real mail since we planned this entire event in 1 week!) There were suggestions about how to pair couples, so that helped me a lot. There are no scripts to memorize. You simply know the character you're playing, how to act, how to dress, and your relationships with other people before the party. You actually won't know if you're being killed or if you're the murderer until the party! That's fun!

As the host, you can choose to play knowing who the killer is or you can play without knowing so that you can fully participate. Once I emailed everyone their character notes, I set to work getting all the details for the party ironed out.

We had to create 2 envelopes for every person. One to open when they arrived at the party, and one to open after the murder happened. In the first envelope was a bundle of $500, a name tag (with the character name), and a set of objectives to be completed (for example: talk to certain people, say certain things, show interest in specific people, etc.) All of this was supplied by http://www.nightofmystery.com/ with my purchase.

Once all the envelopes for the guests were assembled, I had to assemble a few more envelopes. One envelope contained evidence from the murder, one contained the solution to the murder, etc.

After all that, I just had to make sure that everyone who said they were coming were actually coming. The night went off without a hitch.

Brian and I enjoyed a delicious dinner at Red Prime Steak in downtown OKC, and then we headed to the surprise. He was tipped off that I was up to something. (from me!) I really stink at keeping secrets. I was just too excited! But he had no idea about the murder mystery.

We hosted the party at our rent house (aka our 1st house!) which is currently empty since we're trying to sell it. It was a perfect fit for the party. We had tons of wide open space to play the game.

 Everyone waited anxiously for Brian and I to arrive. And I must say, I was extremely impressed with their costumes!
Please note that my sister (in the middle of the picture) is wearing fully sequined pants. Not kiding. She found them at a thrift store! 

Our arrival. Brian was surprised to see everyone! 

The birthday boy played the part of Officer Welsh (the detective on the case). I though it would be the perfect role for him since it ensured that he talked to every single person at the party. 

Here I am passing out the envelopes. 

The explanation of what to do with those envelopes. DO NOT OPEN the envelope that says DO NOT OPEN! (That one is for after the murder!)

Brian testing out his pipe, badge, and detective hat. I think it works. 

My sister, Whitney, and her fiance Kris Janzen aka Barbara and Bob Bucks. They were good! 

Maggie and Jacquelyn played sisters. They were 2 of the daughters of the millionaire who was killed prior to the party. 

Here you'll find Brian talking to Fabio Fabulous aka the pool boy aka Tony Cobb.

A slew of well dressed people waiting for the will reading of a dead millionaire (that was the premise of our murder)

Chrissy and Ashley. Ashley will unfortunately be killed later in the evening. She was playing the part of a maid.  
We did not hire a server, although that would have been a fantastic idea. The gentleman you see with the tray is Ryan Dode. He had the part of a footman, and he took his part seriously. He actually won the best performance award at the end of the night. He was hysterical. 

Brian talking with the pool boy again (also the youth pastor at LifeChurch.tv in Edmond) and in the center of the shot is LifeChurch.tv Yukon's campus pastor, Scott Cornelius. He played the part of a butler. 
My best friend, Meghann DeLong. She played the part of a daughter of the deceased whose name happened to be Allison. And my beautiful sister. 
Here is Allison (aka Meghann) talking to her real life husband, Rodney who played a chauffeur (and also turned out to the murderer!) 
A little acting and negotiating with Reilly Ravish (the deceased's attorney) also known as Jeremy Baldwin in real life. 
Oh no! The maid is dead!
This was funny! We had to arrange for the lights to go off and a gun shot to fire after the reading of the deceased millionaire's will. And suddenly, Ashley fell down dead! (a campus pastor's wife...who would have thought!)
The funniest part was that Ashley's husband Scott, had no idea that she was going to die. When she fell to the ground, he thought she tripped, and replied, "oh no!" It was awesome.
We then appropriately outlined her body in chalk. The concrete floor turned out to be the perfect place for a murder.

Everyone in the room became a suspect, and no one was allowed to leave because of it. We all opened out 2nd envelopes and suddenly had a whole new set of objectives to accomplish. 
We did let her get up. She didn't have to play a dead maid for the rest of the night. The host information says that whoever dies can either continue to play the game without an identify or choose a new character to play for the remainder of the night. Ashley chose to be the ghost of herself. It was fun!  
More negotiating. I wish we would have filmed the whole thing. It was funny what people did to play out their characters. 
After an hour or so, the evidence was presented by the detective. Everyone then examines the evidence, guesses who the killer was, and votes on best performance and best dressed. 

Tabulating the results. 
Having fun with some of the props. 
Serious group shot. 
In character group shot. Too much fun! 

All I can say is that it was fun! I will note that I do think it would have been more fun if everyone would have known everyone. We had a few different groups of friends there, so not everyone knew everyone else. It would be ideal to do with a close group of friends or co-workers or even family where everyone knows everyone else. 

Our mystery lasted almost 2 hours. The notes said that it would last 2-4 hours. Ours definitely could have gone on longer. We just cut it short because it was getting late.  

It helps to host one in a place where there are multiple rooms that people can congregate in. There were lots of secrets told in the back of the house. It helped with the mystery. 

I would do another one in a heartbeat. I hope you enjoyed learning all about our murder mystery. Would you ever consider hosting one? With whom and when? I need ideas on when and how I can host another one! 

Happy Halloween!

....day 80 of a year of writing.....


  1. Allison,
    I LOVE IT! As crazy as this sounds two Easters ago we did a murder mytersy for our Easter dinner. Being military, there were 11 of us that weren't going to be able to go home due to the geography and timing. I LOVE EASTER, it is my FAVORITE holiday and I was totally bummed that I wouldn't be home for Easter. SO I decided to change it up. We did a 20th reunion 80's murder mysters. Talk about costumes! HILARIOUS! It was so much fun. Eating our Easter dinner one of my husbands close friends, falls dead at the dining room table! To say the least it is a dinner that I won't forget and it is a reminder that regardless of the situation, the Lord places people in our lives that help us get through anything (including not being with my family or my home church on Easter)!

  2. Hello Allison,

    We're a start-up Murder Mystery Party company based in the UK, and we'd like to offer you one of our host-it-yourself games for free, in the hope that if you like it you might blog about us :)

    They're terribly easy to organise - our website sends out the invitations directly, by email. Also, the scripts can be previewed. See https://www.daggerville.com.

    If you're interested, get in touch at info@daggerville.com, and also please feel free to pass the offer on to other bloggers.


    Martin (for Daggerville Games)


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