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MARCH 2014 Our Best Party Ever....

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MARCH 2014 Our Best Party Ever....

Postby mrmystery » Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:23 pm

I have always wanted to go to a murder mystery party and it seems like many people I’ve known have always been interested as well. Yet no one I know had ever done one before so I decided to throw one myself. But in order to make sure that people were interested and wanted to come I decided I needed to go big. After looking through a number of different websites and options I decided that the most eccentric option that I could do would be a Pirate Murder Mystery.

My wife and I started verbally talking to people to gage people’s interest... After getting positive feedback, we sent out the first round of invites. I put the material from the website into the envelopes and sealed them with red wax. I used a skull and crossbones seal to give it some extra flair. We kept it simple but hoped the extra touches would keep our friends interest.
It was decided that I’d know who the killer was so I could focus on logistics and to increase the odds that the murder and victim were there that night. My wife used the main character sheet to assign characters while I approved them without giving her any additional information. I printed the character sheets on “parchment” (regular paper I soaked in coffee for 30 seconds and sun-dried.) We wanted to send very personal and special invites to ensure everyone who RSVP’s actually showed up, so we decided to create message-in bottle style announcements. I purchased a box of dark brown empty beer bottles cheaply online and created personalized flaming skull labels for every guest using photo shop. The parchment was rolled up tightly and inserted into each bottle along with a few drops of ocean or coconut scented oil we found at Hobby Lobby for just a few dollars. You would be amazed at how realistic these simple touches made for our guests. Everyone said they felt as if they had really opened a bottle that had been floating in the sea.

As time got closer to the party we started decorating the house a few weeks before to make sure we had plenty of time. I truly love Halloween and pirates so swore to “Go big or go home.” We decorated 2 of the main walls with pirate related scene stealers that I got off the internet. We found a small chest at Hobby Lobby which I filled with old Mardi gras beads, plastic gems, and plastic gold coins.
Old cardboard boxes easily became shipping crates which we spray-painted and stenciled “cargo labels” such as cannonballs, rum, grog, zombie heads, poison, etc. The crates were stacked on the back porch next to a wooden-panel looking scene stealer where we had thrown fishing net over all of it.
Our backyard was now “Port Royal.” Using scrap lumber and some pvc pipe, my friends and I were able to build some small grave stones, a small cannon with cannon balls (spray-painted rubber balls), a small bridge for guests to walk over after they “docked”, and even a gallows where we hung “dead pirates” (Halloween skeleton props.) Our bridge was by far the simplest and most effective decoration. We laid down a blue tarp and tossed a few pieces of drift wood at various places for “floating debris” and laid down several small pieces of wood (flat) in the middle of the tarp. As an afterthought small wooden tent stakes with rope marked the outer edges of our bridge, and when guests walked across it – it actually creaked just like you would expect a wooden bridge to do!

After sending out such elaborate bottle announcements, we also wanted to create an intensely dramatic entrance for our guests to put everyone in the right frame of mind, so I bought a mid-higher end fog machine with remote control and made a recording of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme music. You know – go big or go home remember? Finally one of our friends stood by the bridge to “welcome” everyone to Port Royal. Guests were directed to enter through the side entrance of our fence rather than through the front door. Can you picture it? Imagine walking across a creaking bridge over the “ocean” with fog rolling by (the greeter pressed the remote inside his pocket), being welcomed by a burly pirate with energetic pirate music playing in the back ground. By the time they made it to the entrance of the “Salty Sea-Dog” (our back door,) everyone’s eyes were sparkling and even the most reserved guests were ready to get into the game. Some later told us they felt kind of silly walking down the sidewalk in a pirate costume… until they walked into our backyard and saw our “world” we created for them.

Most of our guests did not know each other so we allowed about a 30 min period of eating and mingling helping break the ice which also allowed us to take a full group picture. Finger foods seemed the most “pirate-y”, so we served Buffalo wings and buffalo chicken cheese dip and several guests brought veggie and dessert trays. We had a wide selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks on hand but everyone felt comfortable with everyone regardless of what they were drinking.

Instead of using the Night of Mystery money for the game that is supplied with the kit I created my own Buccaneer Bucks in Photoshop. Each bill had a picture of a pirate on one side and a ship on the other and the words “In Gold We Trust” on the other. We were surprised to see the high quality of costumes but our friends later explained they felt they needed to put some effort into it after seeing our effort with the bottles. “Thumbless Jackie” even went as far as taping down their thumbs and wearing black gloves!

I anticipated the entire game to take less than an hour total but people really got into character and started bribing each other for money. There was a lot of “Arghing and yo-ho’ing” going on which is how we knew our party was a smash. The governor even went around collecting “taxes” as a way to increase his money supply!

The murder scene presented some challenges as again we wanted to keep the drama going. This may sound a bit nerdy to some of you but we actually choreographed it and practiced it in advance! In addition to logistics issues, only I knew who the killer was which increased the challenge of practicing without giving anything away. The cliché- old lights go out and come up with a dead body bit was a given but I wanted it to be a surprise and I wanted everyone to see it. So a friend of mine prepared a speech which was a letter from Shoutin Roger Dagger (who we cut from the script early on) giving a generic warning of a possible murder. The speech was timed to the ‘Lost Boys” song, “Cry Little Sister.” We used an iPod which had been playing pirate and “creepy” type music throughout the night on one track and simply switched to the Lost Boys track when it was time for the murder to avoid any suspicion. I was listening in the garage by the breaker box, and flipped the switch when he came to the right moment in the speech. The music was on a UPS so it continued to play while the lights were off. It was great. If you know the song, there is a moment when it gets really dramatic and organ music plays up to a crescendo, and my friend’s words in the speech were, “Everyone should be aware that tonight there could be a murder.” He really hammed it up and when the lights came up our “victim” was on the floor.
21 People RSVP’d and only 1 didn’t make it due to a death in the family. For our friends, this is a BIG deal. For prizes we gave out skull shaped bottles filled with Tequila and chocolate gold coins. A few people actually figured out the murder including my wife! I assure you, no one knew anything but me so she did not cheat.

Most of our friends hung around long after the mystery was done and several people began asking us what theme we were going to do next year! This was our first time ever throwing a murder-mystery but it seems it will not be our last! Although I realize not everyone will want to put quite as much work) it was fun but a lot of work no doubt) into their party as we did, I can urge you to try to incorporate a few special details as possible. With the exception of the fog machine (worth the splurge if you can swing it), all the materials for our decorations were rather inexpensive. They simply required a bit of time commitment to put it all together. Grown adults may be hesitant to don pirate gear and loot and plunder all night but with a little effort you can help them find the “kid” inside all of them. Every single one of our guests told us it was the best party they had ever been to and everyone had a blast. Thanks Night of Mystery for having such awesome selections to choose from!

*Special note -We started writing this a years ago and are only finally getting around to sharing our results. We have just recently thrown our second mystery party (1920’s Murder at the Juice Joint) and are already planning next years, Terror in a Toga. Happy “killing” to everyone out there – night of mystery style! 

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mrmystery
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