How to host a murder mystery dinner party (and get away with it)

Food&Drink

When hosting a murder mystery dinner party there is one thing you want to avoid above all and that is stress. There are two good reasons for this: A) Stressing yourself out trying to make the perfect meal will mean that by the time your guests arrive you will look wired and possibly angry, and definitely not like someone it’s safe to spend the evening with, let alone preferable. And B) To counteract the stress you will probably drink too much and, as we all know, stressed drunk people are LOUD and break things.

Also, if you don’t have the deadly sharp organisational skills of the SS, this following may occur. For one party I decided to make vegetable soup and stuffed pancakes. As usual, I was running late and upstairs wrestling with a costume when my guests arrived; I eventually came downstairs to find them eating the raw vegetables for the soup. I guess they thought it was the ’90s and they were crudities. Also, cooking, flipping and stuffing pancakes while everyone else tries to get on with the game does not a good party make, however good they taste. Here are my murder mystery tips for making the ‘dinner’ part of the event a breeze:

#1 However organised you are, you will not have time to cook three courses on the day of the party itself. Be content with making one and buying two. Alternatively make and freeze at least one course beforehand (soup is always cheap and easy, if potentially a little boring).

#2 If you don’t want to cook, forget structuring your party around three courses. This way there is less interruption to the game and you save a tonne of money. Recently, for a French-themed game, my friends bought lots of interesting French cheeses, grapes and baguettes. This approach can be applied to most themed games: for Spanish buy spicy chorizo, olives, Manchego; for English, apples, cheddar, ham, mustard etc.

#3 Most guests worth inviting again will want to bring something to the party. Get them to bring a bottle of something each, as buying enough wine/beer to stock a murder mystery party is surprisingly expensive. If you have a really good, reliable friend coming, ask them to bring one of the three courses, as this will really take the pressure off you on the day.

#4 If you are determined to cook three courses single-handed, good on you. It helps to look up recipes well ahead of time. A practise run or two will take pressure off the day itself – and make you very popular at home. Avoid risotto (too much stirring), pancakes (what was I thinking) and anything that can’t just be shoved in the oven or left to bubble on the stove while you get into costume.

#5 A box of chocolates and coffee (with cream instead of milk) makes a suitably decadent desert.

If you have any tips of your own, I’m dying to hear them. One can never have too many partners in crime.

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