Surprise! It’s a murder mystery evening!

Can you run a surprise murder mystery evening?

 While there is no doubt that anticipation is half the fun of any murder mystery dinner party. With guests loving the run up to the night, gathering costumes and props for their character, emailing around quirky messages etc. It is possible to run them as a complete surprise for your guests too – which is IDEAL in barbecue season when 5 times out of 10 the weather turns foul and what was going to be a nice knees up in the garden turns out to be all of you stuck indoors with sausages under the grill again!


So how do you go about keeping something up your sleeve as a “fall back” and running something as a surprise?

Because our games are all available as a downloadable option – so long as you have ink and paper in your printer, and a couple of hours spare to print – you can decide that morning to change your plans! Simply download the game you decide to play and get it all printed up and ready without involving the guests until they arrive.


What about if you want to run a surprise murder mystery but want to plan a party too?

If you have adequate time… then you’ve got all the fun to yourself, as it’s up to you to set the scene and find their costumes (if you want them to dress up that is).

First of all you need to know how many guests you’ll have. Then all you need to do is pick your party, and rather than inviting all the guests as their characters, you just invite them as they are to a “non specific” gathering (e.g. a cheese and wine night).

OR you can ask them to come according to a set theme e.g. if you wanted to run the Box office Hit as a surprise, then get them to come black tie.

While you can simply allocate your guests as they arrive to the character roles you have already decided they will be, and leave it at that, it’s often more fun to create a “dressing up room”.

As the guests arrive, spring on them which character they are going to be – give them the invitation information, and send them off into a room in your house where you’ve collected a series of props / costumes and costume accessories and let them find something appropriate to wear/use during the evening.

We often do this when we’re team building, as very rarely will a company group have time to get changed and turn up ready for a participative murder mystery in fancy dress, rather we look down the invitation list, work out what props might make a good extra for the characters listed, and then go shopping for costume accessories. We then give the group a suitcase of necklaces, hats, wigs, and other costume accessories, and ask them to find something appropriate to their role. E.g. the Reverend might create a white dog collar for himself out of paper and a paperclip.

Once everyone is there, you can just start the party in the normal way. The lack of preparation means that everyone is in the same boat, and no one feels nervous as they’re all just thrown into it.


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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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