How to run a murder mystery dinner party

At Red Herring Games we sell murder mystery games in several different formats – this information page describes how to run a murder mystery dinner party at home for between 6 and 20 guests.

We provide detailed instructions with all our games to make planning and running the games as easy as possible and we are always available for customer support and don’t mind answering any questions, no matter how silly you may think they are!

If this is your first time, and you have never hosted a murder mystery dinner party before then don’t worry – in most cases no one actually gets murdered!


First and foremost make sure you begin your preparations well ahead of time. It sounds obvious, but make sure you have a good look through your game and if you need to print things off, or do any advance preparations with the clues etc, then get these done well ahead of time.

If you buy a printed kit – still have a good riffle through the set when it arrives – it always helps to know what all the elements are and the instructions and making the most of your theme booklets will give you loads of ideas.

 Assigning Guests:

One of the first steps in hosting a small group murder mystery is to assign your guests to a character.

Read the character descriptions provided and where possible try and fit the guests you plan to invite to the characters themselves.

You might want more information before you allocate guests e.g. you might have some friends who you definitely DON’T want to be dating.  In which case, read the character description in the front of each booklet too – as that will give you more ideas about the character and help you allocate them to a part whcih will suit them best.

Sending Invitations:

Send the invitations several weeks in advance where possible to allow your guests time to find suitable dress for the occasion.

Alternatively host the murder mystery as a surprise event! This also works well. For small group games you will need to have a selection of fancy dress / costume props for your guests to choose from on arrival at the party.

If you want to make your party special, then consider customising your invitations yourself. A little bit of crafty know how is all that you need to do something really special. We provide further information on how to customise your game in our game packages.


Where you hold the murder mystery party sets the stage for the party. Often a few minor alterations in your home can add some simple ambiance to help get your guests in the mood. Use your game materials to help you decide how to decorate. All our games come with decoration ideas.

Don’t forget the music – music can add a lot to the event. Pick something in keeping with your theme.


By the time you get to this point you should have the game materials organised and sitting somewhere safe, a decorated room and some ambient music, as well as a simple menu that is set to go as soon as all your guests arrive.

You may want to keep a copy of the game instructions to hand during your event. The instructions help guide you through the mystery and let you know when you should be hearing from the inspector.

As the guests arrive they should be given any information they require for the game. This consists of a booklet and just occasionally other clues.

As you give it to them explain what is inside, and tell them anything important that they should know about how to play.

You may want to introduce your guests to everyone as they arrive, you may want to use name badges to help people to remember, though usually the costumes give it away!

When everyone has arrived give them all time to read their information before you begin.


As host it is your job to make sure everyone is comfortable with what they are being asked to do. If you notice someone hasn’t asked any questions then ask them directly do you have anything to ask anyone? It’s usually all about nerves, and the more comfortable they feel the better.

REMEMBER – this information page is very basic – more detail instructions of how to host our murder mystery games are provided as standard with all our games.

Alternatively – why not watch our videos – which explain quickly how the games work.

If you have any questions not answered by the videos – do get in touch and we will try to help.


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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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