Are mix and mingle style murder mystery games possible?

One of the most regular requests we’ve had recently has been for mix and mingle parties.


Is it possible to do it?

The answer is yes. But whenever we’ve provided one so far, our mix and mingle parties have always been custom written to the guest list as it’s not actually as easy as it soundss to provide a game that has an undefined number of guests, an undefined level of mixing, an undefined “acting ability” and an undefined level of involvement for all concerned.


So can you play any of our “off the shelf” games as mix and mingle?

The quick answer is “no”. But actually that’s not strictly true. It IS possible to generate a mix and mingle game using our “skit and clue” style large group games.

To make things easy, what you need is at least 6 willing volunteers to do a little “acting”; someone to act as host to oversee events, and one big area where all the guests can mingle to watch the two scenes the actors will act out during the course of the night.

The “actors” don’t need to know who has committed the crime, and they can act “script in hand” during the party too, so it doesn’t matter if they haven’t learned their lines.  It’ll still work fine.

Then, rather than forming teams, as the “skit and clue” format suggests, the clues are distributed around the attending guests instead. As there are over 100 clues each round, it means some guests will have more than one (unless you have a very big party!)

Rather than inundate the guests with lots of information, the best thing to do is weed out the “extra” clues, there will always be one or two in a set of 100 that provide useless information, red herrings, or duplicate information. Removing these will often mean you can whittle the number of clues down to nearer 50-70 each round.

Then you can look at the clues you have left and decide if any work as physical props which you can leave about the house. E.g. there might be a clue which relates to Rat poison – in which case you can label up a bottle as “rat poison” and stick an “evidence” label on it so guests can move around the house spotting evidence as well as exchanging clues between each other.

During the evening guests can either swap clues OR keep all the information to themselves and swap the information they know for other information as they mix as a group; and other than removing the teams, this part of the evening runs exactly as it would do if you were hosting a large group dinner party game.

Over the course of 2015 we plan to develop a series of mix and mingle style games, but ones that are easy to play, unlike the more traditional “free form” character games where everyone has to ad lib throughout the night, and which scare many people away from mix and mingle style evenings as they are too difficult to run. In the meantime we hope this information sheet helps those who are trying to work out how to run a game in mix and mingle format until then!

Do you have any other suggestions?

Something we’ve suggested to a number of people this year is to run a mix and mingle game in a similar way to Cluedo – or in other words, a “what’s missing” game.  Give you guests a list of rooms, murderers, and weapons, and create cards which each guest will hold which provide an alibi for a suspect or a location of a murder weapon.  Guests can then tick off the cards as they see them to work out “What’s missing”, or if you prefer – just do the same thing with Cluedo cards, providing you have enough to go around.

It means “no acting” required – but it’ll suit a very informal mix and mingle.


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Flexible and fun!

We contacted Red-Herring-Games for a party for a special occasion. Why going to restaurants to eat is the preferred activity to mark milestones is beyond me and my friends.   The choice of mystery was obvious, looking at the options from New Zealand on the web Red Herring stuck out from the international options.  A quick look at the site and games showed subtlety as well a range of choices.  The numbers you could have for each evening was important,  Red Herring had scaling options a good range of scenarios but most importantly were Jo and team being flexible, responsive and helpful.

Rachel McWilliam, Arts Development Officer, Lincs Inspire

Thank you Red Herring Games for the marvellous 'Murder!  Cargo Connections?' event that you organised for us as part of Museums at Night at the Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby. The whole evening went so well and was brilliant fun.  I know from all the feedback that our visitors had a fantastic time. It was really good working with you and I have no doubt that we will do again in the not too distant future.  

A. Nonymous (council employee)

I would like to thank you and your colleague for helping contribute towards our successful conference last month.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy the evening and it was rewarding that so many delegates were able to participate in addition to the main "Actors".  Our conference evaluation froms included the following comments:
  • "Enjoyed the evening entertainment!"
  • The evening entertainment was great and the confusion made it great fun!"
With thanks and best wishes.

Sarah Spencer (Cleethorpes Chronicle)

I had no idea what to expect before purchasing a ticket for Old, New, Borrowed, Blue, which was being staged at a nearby hotel, and feared it might involve taking part in some way. However thankfully for me no acting was necessary, just some amateur sleuthing. "Wedding guests" of which I was one, were called upon to move from room to room in the hotel in groups, questioning a number of possible murderers with the aim of solving the mystery of the dead bridegroom. The interviewees were really fun characters and gave us all some good laughs. Of course they all had motives and it was a case of identifying the shiftiest. The wedding theme was particularly good, as it fitted well with the venue, the buffet that was part of the evening (with a wedding cake in the middle) and the fact that everyone had been able to dress up to fit in without going to the trouble of fancy dress. I didn't think I had enough "evidence" to actually accuse anyone but later regretted not even writing down my first guess as it wouldn't have been too far off the mark. The evening was great fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it and take part. I would definitely recommend Old, New, Borrowed, Blue as good for getting even reluctant or first-time mystery party-goers involved.  

Alan Young (Personal Touch Mortgages)

What a cracking nights entertainment! We don't get out much nowadays with 2 kids and this was exactly what we were looking for in a good night out. Lots of fun with tongue firmly in cheek and everyone kept guessing whodunnit right to the very end. Would definitely attend another!!!!!  


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