How to Host a Mystery Dinner

Hosting a murder mystery dinner is the perfect way to gather your friends and family for an interesting and memorable evening. Transform your typical dinner party into something absolutely fabulous that everyone will be talking about for years to come!


  1. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 1
    Choose mystery theme that you feel your friends will enjoy the most. Easygoing friends who love to dress up lets you plan a party that includes elaborate costumes and boisterous characters, such as a medieval themed game. However, if you have a more formal or professional event in mind, focus more on the mystery and less on the dressiness of the characters. For the latter, a haunted manor theme would be suitable.
  2. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 2
    Find the most appropriate game. Clue-based mysteries are appropriate for groups of under 30 people. Above 30 people, you really should consider hiring actors to act out a script-based mystery to the rest of the group. If you tried to have more than 30 characters that had plot twists, it might be too chaotic for the guests!
  3. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 3
    Assign the character roles. Be sure to fill the 'required' characters first with your most solid guests who will stick to their RSVP. Then, fill the optional roles with those guests who may be tentative.
  4. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 4
    Send out the invitations and tell each guest which character you have selected for them to play. Games typically come with costume suggestions for each guest. Encourage your guests to select a costume that fits their assigned character, as the costumes will increase the excitement and fun!
  5. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 5
    Manage your RSVP list. If for any reason, one of the required characters cannot make the event, quickly switch one of the optional characters into their slot and notify that guest immediately.
  6. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 6
    The day of the party, decorate your party room/area in the theme of the mystery. For example, if you are having a '70s disco themed party, decorate the room as a '70s disco, play '70s disco music softly in the background, and even play Saturday Night Fever on the television without the sound.
  7. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 7
    As the guests arrive, greet them with a cocktail and appetizers. Take their individual pictures and give them the guest instructions, along with the mystery synopsis and character list for them to review while they await the other guests' arrivals.
  8. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 8
    Once everyone has arrived, take a group picture immediately. Your guests have taken the time to gather a costume together and everyone will want a picture of the group after the party!
  9. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 9
    Allow time for everyone to get acquainted with each other, ask any questions about the mechanics of the mystery party. Then pass out the round one envelopes containing the round one clue cards to get the mystery started. Tell everyone to remain in their character for the duration of the party!
  10. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 10
    Serve appetizers and cocktails during round one. Make sure that the party is flowing properly by encouraging your guests to mingle in character as they would in real life. Check to be sure they are using their clue cards for information to discuss with the other guests:
    • There are typically some sort of icebreakers on the round one clue cards that the guests can 'break the ice' with - like trivia questions or riddles within the theme of the party. This can get your guests to start talking!
    • Once you see that everyone has implemented all of the actions and topics on their clue cards, you can progress the game to round two.
    • Round one should take about 45 minutes to an hour. Never rush this round! This is a common mistake for newbies and can prove very confusing for the next round if clues were rushed during round one. Round one is used to set up the mystery and lay the foundation of the characters and their motives. Most games will have side bonus games within the theme of the mystery to play - these are optional but fun!
  11. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 11
    Round two is typically when the murder occurs but first, you will want to serve dinner. Choose a dinner menu that can be cooking during Round One and be ready to go at the start of Round Two! Dishes such as lasagna, roasts, roasted chicken, etc., work perfectly for mystery dinners.
    • During dinner, there might be a side bonus game to play, or if not, just instruct your guests to remain in character until dinner is over.
    • Some games have the victim already disclosed before the mystery party begins and the guests arrive knowing who was or will be murdered. You can increase suspense and excitement by making one of your guests the victim. Some mystery games have one of the guests as the victim. This guest will be notified via their clue card to go to the nearest restroom and 'become the victim.' It can be as simple as putting on a 'victim sign' or they also sell props such as a victim t-shirt, white face makeup, and crime scene tape. Now, that is hysterical when a party guest comes back into the room in full force as a victim! So, after the victim arrives, the investigation begins. No worries as the victim still plays the game, but as a ghost, so that they can only communicate by sign language or writing (this is optional - you can also just ask that they speak like a ghost).
    • Some games will have a forensic analysis report (a certain guests called upon a favor from a detective friend) and other games might have additional evidence like emails, contracts, etc. that were found. Once everyone has completed their investigation and filtered through the information, round three can begin.
  12. Image titled Host a Mystery Dinner Step 12
    Take up the mystery investigation sheets or other 'guess ballots' from the guests. At this time, serve coffee and dessert to the guests and ask them to sit in a circle.
    • One by one, allow them to accuse who they believe the murderer is and tell them to include the motive in their accusation.
    • After the accusations, pass out the final clue cards for round three. These will typically have the solution in it and one-by-one, the guest will read their solution which will contain any involvement that their character had with the murder.
    • The murderer will confess at this time and will disclose all of the details. Yes, the murderers are always honest in the end!
    • There is typically another side bonus game, like charades, within the theme of the party to play as the finale. After that, your party is done and your obligations as the host are over!


  • Ask a friend or two in advance to assist you during dinner. You won't be able to plate the dishes and serve everyone by yourself. It would also be helpful if you asked a friend to host a side game while you prepared the dinner to give your guests something to do while they wait to be served.

Sources and Citations

  • My Mystery Party has a wide selection of murder mystery party games available as instant downloads or boxed sets.

Article Info

Categories: Dinner Parties | Event and Party Planning