How to host a murder mystery dinner party (your guests will love!)

Want to host a murder mystery dinner party (with a personalised script!)? Learn everything you need to know in this easy guide.

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Matt Ellis

Written by: Matt Ellis
Sep 10, 2020

Since you’re reading this – you’re either thinking about hosting a murder mystery dinner party – or you’ve just been invited to one and you’re wanting to find out what you're letting yourself in for!

No matter if you’re a murder mystery dinner regular or a total noob – this guide will give you everything you need to know to have an incredible evening.

Murder mystery dinner party

Hosting a murder mystery party with friends can be a lot of fun!

What is a murder mystery dinner party?

A murder mystery dinner party is where a group of people get together for fun to play a ‘whodunnit’ murder mystery game as they dine together.

In reality – a murder mystery game and a dinner party are two different things – they happily exist without each other.

Yet, bring them together and something magical (and mysterious) happens!

Did you know?

Murder mystery dinners were originally set up by Joy Swift. The first one took place in 1981 in Liverpool, UK.

There are 2 main types of murder mystery dinner parties

Many types of murder mystery dinner party's exist – but the most popular are:

Murder mystery cast

Type 1: Interactive murder mystery dinner party

These types of murder mystery dinner parties require ‘cast members’ or actors to play the game.

They often take place at specific ‘murder mystery dinner’ venues – or you can hire a cast to perform at your private party.

Whilst eating – guests at the party watch the actors perform the murder mystery.

There’s usually a “murder” at the start of the evening and then actors roam the room and interact with each other and the audience – dropping and hints to help the astute diners solve the mystery.

The actors generally use a well-memorized script. But more seasoned actors may ad-lib to make the event topically relevant and add humour or a shock here or there – so watch out!

How do you play an interactive murder mystery?

Dinner guests don’t have a script to follow – but just use their detective skills to note down clues they spot throughout the evening.

Towards the end of the evening, guests will be asked to cast their vote as to “whodunnit”.

The actors will play out a final scene where the murderer will be revealed – and their motives exposed.

If you correctly guess who the murderer is – you might even win a prize! If not, bragging rights are yours for the evening!

How many people do you need for an interactive murder mystery?

Interactive murder mystery dinner parties can work well for small groups, larger groups or even events with hundreds of people.

Friends playing a murder mystery on their phones

Type 2: Scripted murder mystery dinner party

Players are given a script to read which includes character background information, questions to ask and general murder plot dialogue.

Players tend to stay in the same place for the duration of the game – in this case usually around a dining table.

Murder mystery dinner parties are often themed – and guests are encouraged to dress up in character. Though It doesn't always have to be this way.

How do you play a scripted murder mystery dinner party game?

The game is played over several rounds – usually in-between eating each food course and general socialising.

Each round consists of three parts:

  1. The Script – when the players read through the script together.
  2. Questioning & Evidence – when players can go off script and improvise about who they think dunnit! The script contains prompts to help players get information out of each other.
  3. Voting – where players vote for who they think the murderer is.

The third and final round concludes with the murdered being exposed.

Dun dun dun! 🎵

How many people do you need for a scripted murder mystery dinner party game?

A scripted game works well for small groups of 6–20 guests – and can be a great ice breaker for groups of people that don’t know each other well.

Hosting your own murder mystery dinner party

Want to host a great murder mystery dinner party that your guest will love and tell all their friends about? This is the guide for you.

⚠️ Disclaimer

This guide is written by You Dunnit. We have a fantastic personalised murder mystery game builder. You can use it to create a personalised murder mystery for your dinner party in just 15 mins.

Make your own personalised murder mystery dinner game

  • Create your dinner party game in less than 15 mins
  • Delivered instantly – to play on your phone or print out
  • Play with guests in real life or online
Build my murder mystery dinner party game

Choose a theme for your murder mystery dinner party

Our You Dunnit personalised murder mystery game builder currently comes with a couple of theme options pre-built for you (with more coming soon).

But you can add your own twist to these – making it more personalised or topically relevant.

You don’t have to go down the more traditional Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple attire – or a sleuth with a magnifying glass route.

Here are a few murder mystery theme ideas you could incorporate into your party:

1920s gatsby theme dress

1920's theme

Sequins, feather boa’s, loose, shapeless dresses for the girls and striped, plaid and tweed three-piece wool suits for the boys.

What’s not to love about this theme? Jay Gatsby, here we come!

1950 theme

1950's theme

Preppy rockabilly, greaser, tuxedos, saddle shoes, poodle skirts, bobbysocks, ponytails blouses and skirts.

Make Sandra Dee and Danny Zuko proud.

1980s rollerskate fashion

1980’s theme

Big hair stonewash jeans, neon shell suits and punk rock! You know you’ve already got all this stuff stored in the loft 😉

Just watch some 80s classics for inspiration: The Breakfast Club Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller's Day Off or Ghostbusters.

Murder mystery halloween dinner party theme

Spooky Halloween theme

Cruella De Vil, IT, Harley Quinn, Wednesday Addams, Chucky, Beetlejuice, Teen Wolf.

Do you really need a better reason than a murder mystery to dress up like this?

Star wars theme

TV, movies and books theme

Star Wars, Harry Potter, Twilight, Game of Thrones, Marvel.

Paint yourself green and go as the Hulk. Or if you have resources... build your own Iron Man suit!

Sports theme murder mystery

Sports theme

It can feel like a cop-out allowing people to rock up in their favourite football shirt but a sports-themed murder mystery dinner could bring people together who might not necessarily want to play it because they're too cool.

Wedding murder mystery theme

Wedding theme

Finally, a reason for the ladies to get back into the old wedding dress (if it still fits!).

What could be more fun than a murder on the happiest day of your life? 🤔

Choose a venue for your murder mystery dinner party

As the name suggests – a murder mystery dinner tends to include food. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with the location and theme.

Yes, you can play it at home around a dining table – or you could:

  • A team-building exercise on a business retreat
  • On a long train journey
  • With your sports team
  • With your church group
  • At school with classmates and teachers
  • At the work office

You could even head over to Airbnb and hire for a venue (with a hot tub, obviously!) or even a haunted mansion! 👻

Haunted murder mystery mansion

Haunted murder mystery mansion...

Or... host a virtual murder mystery dinner over video

Because You Dunnit murder mysteries are played on your smartphone, laptop or tablet – you're not limited to where you can play it.

If you can't physically be together (AKA Covid-19!) you can all play the game using video chat.

You Dunnit works on any of the popular video chat services:

  • FaceTime
  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp

If you’re feeling technically fancy you could mix it up and have a group of people together in one room – and a separate set of people on video calls!

This is great when people physically can’t make it to the dinner party. Guests can literally dial in from any location in the world and be a murder mystery detective without having to travel.

Murder mystery zoom video call

Choose good names for murder mystery characters

Character names can be a source of great amusement. Our You Dunnit personalised murder mystery game builder allows you to choose the name for each player.

You can assign unique and funny names for everyone – but there’s no reason why you couldn’t use nicknames – or even real names!

TIP: Use a character name generator

Stuck on ideas for good character names? Check out the Character Name Generator tool online. It'll give you some great starting points!

Invite your murder mystery dinner guests (aka: The Suspects!)

So... you've decided the theme. You've decided on the location. You've decided when the murder mystery dinner will take place…

Now you need to invite the guests! (For a You Dunnit murder mystery dinner party you’ll need between 6–12 players).

Send players their unique murder mystery dinner game link

Once the game is set up, You Dunnit allows you to invite players to the game.

Players receive a unique game code which enables them to join the game.

You can text, email or even post the game code to each player.

The game code also contains a link to their unique character information page – which has hints and tips about how to play the game and information about what the character should wear – so they can get prepared for the evening.

Murder mystery dinner food and drink

If you've got this far in your host planning – you’re doing amazing!

There are just a few more things you need to prepare before the murder mystery dinner evening.

Dinner party food should feel a bit special – and you can definitely take cues from the theme that you choose.

There's already a ton of ideas on the Internet for food ideas for murder mystery parties – but you could also do a Google search for food inspiration for specific eras or themes – like:

And don't think you have to be fully responsible for supplying food. You could ask everyone to chip in – or bring something along.

Though, it probably needs a bit of coordination if you going to do the murder mystery dinner party over a video call!

Murder mystery dinner decorations

Using the party theme as a starting point is a great idea. Though, hiring a roulette wheel and a blackjack table for a casino themed murder mystery might not be within everyone's budget.

But adding small touches around the venue can add to the excitement and authenticity of the evening.

Print out the customised murder mystery scripts

You can build and play the murder mystery directly on your phone – it's super simple.

However, there is also an option to print out the scripts – and we highly recommend you do this.

Printed scripts are helpful for people that don't want to be staring at their phone all night – and as a backup for if somebody's phone battery dies.

Screenshot 2020 09 11 at 10 47 58

You Dunnit murder mystery dinner script. Easily print them out or play on your phone.

Decide what you’re going to wear

Since you're the host – you need to look the bomb! Make sure you give yourself enough time before the dinner party to glam yourself up.

Again, if there is a theme make sure your attire nails it. If it's a free for all dinner party – leave the guests in no doubt who the host is (eg: you!)

Murder mystery host crazy getup

You're the host. Make sure people know it!

A soundtrack for a murder mystery dinner game

Music is a great way to set the tone of the evening. Services like Spotify and Apple Music make it easy to create a murder mystery playlist.

You can use generic murder mystery-themed tunes – or use your party theme to choose music from that era.

Murder mystery dinner playlist

Check out the You Dunnit Murder Mystery Dinner Playlist on Spotify.

Murder mystery dinner party playlist on Spotify

Murder mystery dinner party playlist on Spotify

How long does a murder mystery dinner take to play?

If you're the host you'll get your own special You Dunnit script which helps you guide other players and characters through the murder mystery game.

If you've never played (or hosted) one before – here is a step by step timeline of what you can expect during the evening:

7:30pm: Guests start to arrive

Welcome them in! Hand them a drink. Start mingling.

8:00pm: Dinner begins: Starter

The murder mystery dinner begins! Tuck in and get familiar with your co-suspects… but don’t believe a word they tell you!

8:20pm: The murder mystery game begins: Round 1

When you and all the players are ready – go to your You Dunnit Host Panel and hit "Start the Game".

That will do 2 things:

  1. Activate the players "Let's Play" button from their Your Character page
  2. Reveal your secret game code

You need to let all the players know the secret game code so they can join the game on their phone.

Once you've all joined the game you can start to progress through it with the other players.

The game takes place over three rounds.

Murder mystery dinner party playlist on Spotify

Each round is split into 3 sections:

1. The Script 📜

This is where all the players take turns to read through a script.

The script clearly shows when it's your turn to speak.

Try and keep an eye on the script when the other players are reading out their parts – and be ready to deliver your lines to keep the game flowing.

Bonus points for staying in character for the whole evening!

YOU are the host

Since you're the host and a character in the game you get the lion's share of dialogue. This is your time to shine, baby!

2. Questioning & Evidence 🔎

This is when you go off script and talk openly about who you think dunnit!

You can use the information you learn from the other players to pose questions – so make sure you pay attention when they're reading their part.

There will also be written prompts to help you pry information out of the others if you get stuck.

3. Voting ☑️

This is when you privately vote for who you think the murderer is.

You get the chance to vote at the end of each of the 3 rounds.

8:40pm: Food: Main Course

The main course has arrived! Yumz.

9:00pm: Murder mystery game: Round 2

Another round of script reading, questioning and evidence – and voting!

This is all led and guided by the host reading from their customized murder mystery dinner script.

9:20pm: Food: Pudding

The pudding has arrived. If you’re not too full – go for it! But we don't want to real-life 'death by chocolate' at the party!

9:40pm: Murder mystery game: Round 3 + Voting

The final round of script reading, questioning and evidence – and most importantly voting!

This is the most important vote – and the only one that counts (so don't worry if you've got it wrong in the first two rounds).

10:00pm: Murder mystery game reveal!

This is when the big reveal happens – the host reads the summary of events and calls out the true murderer.

Votes are scored and the winning sleuth is decided!

Murder mystery dinner celebration

And celebrate 🎉

Congratulations! You've just hosted a glorious murder mystery dinner party your guests will be talking about for months!

Make your own personalised murder mystery dinner game

  • Create your dinner party game in less than 15 mins
  • Delivered instantly – to play on your phone or print out
  • Play with guests in real life or online
Build my murder mystery dinner party game