It's the season for costumes and creepiness! This article is part two of my experience hosting a Swinger Murder Mystery Party. You can read part one here.
This is a party that requires quite a bit of planning and preparation. I would plan at least a month to prepare if you are having a larger group. If you've never attended a vanilla murder mystery party I would start by hosting a party with 8 – 12 people so you get a good idea of the flow. I would definitely recommend buying a mystery from a company. You can choose print versions or down-loadable. Night of Mystery only offers downloads.
You will need to print and mail, or email character information a couple weeks ahead of time after the rsvps are collected. We did everything through the swinger website. This required that I upload all the character info to google docs and create links. If you have private emails for your friends it is much easier. It is important that everyone understand that they need to arrive on time and that you want them to dress up.
This is the note we sent:
We're so excited that you are joining us for the SinCity Murder Mystery Party! Follow these links: Name and Name for all the details about the mystery and your characters. Please do read the instructions and your character description before the event.
We will be starting the mystery promptly at 7pm with appetizers and mingling. Everyone will have a character with secrets and motives, one of us will be the victim and one of us will be the killer! It will be very easy to meet and flirt, especially if you dress and act your part.
You will also need to print name tags, character information and objectives, print or purchase play money (all the mysteries have money involved for bribery purposes) and award certificates. The instructions recommended giving each person two envelopes at the event. Rather than envelopes I used manilla file folders. I folded and taped the secret information to be opened after the murder. The folder also had their name tag, character information, play money and their voting card. I printed a second set of name tags to label the outside of the folder. The printing, collating and organizing the folders is quite time consuming. I recommended doing it with friends while drinking at girl's night and/or with your best friend while watching Doctor Who. Since we had 44 folders I did both.
You will also print the evidence files and the solution. Print 2. Put them in two separate labeled folders. You do not want to be part way through the party and missing the evidence or solution. The only reason this didn't happen to us is because I printed two.
I did not read most of the secrets or the solution ahead of time. I did accidentally read who the victim was (in Night of Mystery games the victim does not know they are the victim until they arrive at the party, they can continue to play after they are killed off). In my opinion the host should read everyone's secrets and objectives before the party. You still probably won't know who the murderer is. I don't think you need to read the solution ahead of time. It is essential to know who the victim will be for the party to go smoothly. I was so glad I knew who was getting knocked off. You will need to be sober enough to orchestrate the killing and quickly count the votes at the end of the evening. Do not drink too much if you are hosting.
I assigned myself a minor part since I was running the party. My husband had a major part because he is quite theatrical and loves this type of party. It worked very well for my husband to have a big part and me to be the choreographer.
We have attended and hosted many vanilla murder mystery parties. They have all revolved around dinner, so that is how we chose to do this one also. This is not necessary. You could easily host a cocktail party mystery. You do need some food because this is not the kind of party that everyone can get completely trashed and still have fun with the mystery. I would recommend starting fairly early in the evening so people are not arriving heavily buzzed. This will also give you plenty of time to start playing before everyone is too tired.
I would suggest separate areas for the mystery and playing. If you are hosting at home, keep the play areas closed until you are done with the mystery. If people start wandering off to have sex during the mystery it will fall apart. As soon as the mystery is solved and the prizes are awarded you can transition to the play space. If you provide condoms and lube (we do at our parties) have them set up ahead of time.
The Basic Space:
Regardless of the mystery theme you will need a large enough space for all your guests to be in one room and able to mingle and move freely. If you are having dinner and it is a smaller party it's nice to have everyone at one table. In our case we had five circular tables and a good sized open area. We had the casino games at the perimeter of the room. Except for during dinner most people were moving about. The hotel bar was outside the room and that was a little bit inconvenient, but probably limited consumption, which is not a bad thing.
We chose a hotel banquet room because it was big enough for the mystery and close to play space. You could easily host at home if it's a smaller party. You could also host at a swinger club, an apartment club house, a bar willing to host a private event or a picnic shelter.
Decorations are not essential, but they help to set the mood. Night of Mystery offers many suggestions and quite a few printable decorations for each mystery.
Background music is a good thing, but needs to be in the background. You can customize it to your theme. We used our favorite, Songza's Crowd Pleasing Dance Mix. Lighting needs to be at a level so everyone can comfortably read their instructions. You need to be able to darken the room completely and quickly for the murder.
This party was very well attended and well-received. The positive comments have been overwhelming. I loved putting this party together and both my husband and I loved the evening. There was something so magical and sexy seeing so many people dressed up and playing their parts and then playing together at the after-party.
It was a lot of work to organize and host, but definitely worth it. We plan to do it as a large group event again next year. We felt like the number of guests was a little on the high side, but the positive was that we did have all types of people and that made for good swing matches. In the future we may host a mystery for a smaller group of couples who all know each other and play together.
I hope you've enjoyed hearing about our SinCity Murder Mystery. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Please do check out our other party ideas here on the Swingset, Team Fun Articles.