How long do you need to plan a party?

One question we’re often asked is how long does it take to plan a party.

There are no “hard and fast” answers when it comes to this question as it all depends on the type of party you want to host and how involved you want everyone to get.  (And also how much fun you want to have planning.)

12 hours?

With our downloadable murder mystery kits, last minute parties are certainly an option!  So long as you have time to print out everything you need, you can plan one with less than 12 hours notice.  The guests can just turn up and be given their roles.  There really is no need for fancy dress to make the night a success if you have the right crowd.

Some people decide to run the party at short notice, and others decide to spring the fact the party is a murder mystery party on the guests at short notice, but plan it themselves a lot way ahead.

If you’d like to run a surprise event, there are some really simple things you can do to make the most of the party without tipping off the guests… we cover that in our blog on hosting surprise murder mystery parties.

If you want to involve the guests and give them time to prepare, we usually say, to allow yourself at least 2 weeks.

 2 weeks?

Two weeks gives your guests time to anticipate the night and you time to plan and prepare.

You may decide to buy a kit that doesn’t need any fancy dress costumes (check out our present day themes), but if you’ve opted for something that your guests might like to dress up for, then 2 weeks gives them time to browse Ebay and fancy dress shops, canvas their friends and family, and buy or borrow something appropriate to wear for their character.

Two weeks also gives YOU time to plan any decorative touches you might like to add to the party to create atmosphere.

The big advantage of 2 weeks notice, is that for most people, if you give them less time then they will know the state of their diaries and you are less likely to get let down at short notice on the night because something else has cropped up!

Will you need more than 2 weeks to become a “host with the most”…NO… because we’ve put together our party packs in the right way to make party planning and running REALLY simple.


Often the biggest problem with planning a murder mystery is finding a date that all your friends are free on.  This often necessitates planning the party not weeks in advance, but months.

So…is it a good idea to buy the game now and give them their characters months in advance?


If you have a reliable bunch, then the more notice you can give everyone the better.  You can all get into character early, start being silly on facebook and build up the anticipation with teaser posts, and get carried away on costumes and decoration.  You really can go to town on your “making the most of your theme” information provided with each kit and do things you might never have thought of if time was too short (trust me… I’ve made a portcullis and drawbridge out of cardboard before…so with adequate notice you really can go mad!)

Also longer notice gives you time to firm up a menu that everyone can eat, buy in what you want and start getting in the booze early so the cost of the dinner party is spread out over a period of weeks and isn’t all coming off the same monthly budget.

However…be warned…

If you have an unreliable bunch of friends, you might find it easier to use a “save the date” invitation.  This would remove the hassle of suddenly finding you’ve lost 2 guests that you can’t easily remove, and having to reallocate their parts to guests who’ve already bought costume for another character.  (Trust me it happens a lot… and while we can fiddle with kits sometimes to remove guests, it can become quite costly for you and sometimes impossible for us to explain without giving the whole game away if you happen to lose the murderer!)

If you give people lots of notice, whether it’s just as a “save the date” invitation or with their actual character invitation – do remember to firm them all up nearer the day. This saves you finding out at the very last minute they can’t come and creating a huge amount of stress for you!

A year?

Some of our customers buy their murder mystery nearly a whole YEAR in advance of their party.  Why do they do this? Well… sometimes it’s because they want a really specific theme or a really specific type of party.

Because we can custom write murder mysteries to order, we are able to take commissions.  The longer the notice on an order, the cheaper the murder mystery becomes for you.  (One hotel gets a custom written plot free each year as they book it 13 months ahead!)

We are always able to custom write or adjust kits, and never like to say no to anyone.

When it’s something simple and the office isn’t stacked out with work (Nov/Dec are really busy months for us) then we’ll regularly make simple adjustments like removing just one character free.

However, at peak times, or with unusual requests, there is always a charge, and the less notice we have, the more costly it is to create a bespoke kit as we have to drop other work.

Many of our customers realise this which is why they start planning for Christmas in July when we have time on our hands and the costs are lower.

Need a quote for a bespoke murder mystery game?  It’s not too late (it never is… we work right up until Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) but it is always cheaper planning in advance.  The more notice, the better.


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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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