Howdy! So much of my spare time is centered around Momming and doing things for the Little one. The holidays create a hectic time for everyone, so Ryan and I wanted to do something fun for ourselves and our friends. We took the normal dinner party and put a spin on it.
We had seen different ideas for Murder Mystery parties and we thought that would be something fun & unique to do on the next dinner party night. Instead of a traditional holiday party, we decided we were going to pick a mystery dinner for our annual holiday event. So this past Fall, we became totally obsessed with HBO’s West World. Did you see it?! Soooooo Good.
My husband isn’t quite as into themed parties as some of my girlfriends and I, so when he saw a Western themed one, it was an easy choice for him- what guy doesn’t want to be the bad ass “Man in Black”?? So we selected that one from this online one– and spoiler alert- it was so fun, we are probably going to opt for a new theme next year and throw another one.
We ordered the Murder at the Dead Wood Saloon Here:
Once you decide on the theme, you select how many guests are attending, order the package that fits the guests, assign your characters and begin decorating.
Everything is downloadable, and it even comes with suggestions for dinner, props, name tags, etc.
We have a fairly modern looking house, so turning it into the Dead Wood Saloon for a Poker Tournament was a bit of a challenge.
There were lots of props and decorations to order online, but unfortunately, they were all mini sized, like this:
I was looking for something to make a big impression and cover the whole dining room wall. So as the saying goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself.
So I pulled out my handy dandy paints and craft paper and got to work.
This is your decorating and crafting best friend:
You can order from Amazon, buy at Wal-Mart, or yes, even the Dollar Tree.
I use it to cover the bar and serve food on (you write the names on the dishes right beside what you’re serving), I use it for Charlotte’s Arts & Crafts projects, props, wrapping paper, and the list goes on. I rolled it out in layers, taped it together pep-rally style and began free handing a “saloon scene” onto it. I am no artist, I can barely draw lettering at all, but the result made a big splash. I painted large strokes to resemble a rustic wood effect, and for the brick or stone effect, I dipped a sponge in a plate full of paint and dabbed it along the paper.
Keep in mind it was a holiday party, I swear I don’t still have my trees up.
We put some cheesecloth left over from a Dollar Tree Halloween find on the lamps.
I duct taped and spray painted a hula hoop for the “wagon wheel”, and my husband is a musician by hobby, so we had the awesome bass and guitars on hand for props.
The “jail” is an old fireplace I made for last christmas, that we taped some bars on, and it was detachable so our guests could stand behind it as a photobooth prop.
The murder mystery package came with these awesome print outs of wanted signs and bottle labels, so I teastained them:
how to here:
This took about 45 minutes start to finish.
The package also came with these amazing bottle labels to print out. I had mod podge and empty bottles on hand, so I just soaked them in water and peeled off the existing labels and modpodged the real ones right on. I really wanted to give it that dusty, whiskey joint feel and these had the perfect effect.
The wanted signs looked great tea-stained, so I just burnt the edges with a lighter and stuck them up around the saloon. They are perfect for creating the atmosphere, as they have the names of the characters (your guests!) on them.
I used some additional Dollar tree frames to display some saloon signs advertising the Deadwood’s Poker Tournament (the center of our murder mystery party)
I wanted a card table theme, but I wasn’t going to pay to rent one, so I found this felt table cloth to put on our existing dining room table.
I found this from the amazing company that is Amazon:
and I can’t wait to use it for a casino night in the future.
The money tray and fake money I found as a toy at TJ Maxx and its rustic wooden tray feel was perfect for the theme of the party.
here’s a similar one:
After we got that atmosphere right, and let’s be honest, doesn’t the backdrop make you want to drink warm whiskey and gamble?? The next order of business was the food & drink.
We displayed a real bar on the island and put out burlap to cover the granite. We served drinks in high ball glasses and copper mugs, and kept them iced in silver troughs, true to the period (i think?)
Since hosting a murder mystery party requires a lot of involvement and theatrics from the host, we went the easy route and had BBQ catered.
I was too busy having so much fun getting into character, i forgot to photograph the spread and most of the bar! Whoops!
Anyhow, after all this is done, it’s up to the guests to arrive and get into character. Once your guests arrive, you have a list of directions for them, they get one envelope with “tasks and character info as well as money in it” Everyone puts on their name tag and gets into character. Fortunately for us, everyone was really into it and rented costumes or put together amazing get-ups from their own wardrobes.
It was really a night to remember! As you serve dinner and begin the faux poker tournament, the murder mystery begins to unfold. At the end, you can award prizes or award certificates for best dressed, best actor, the person who ended the night with the most fake money, and the one or ones who solved the actual murder mystery.
Here are some more pics from our Mystery Dinner night, “Murder at The Dead Wood Saloon”
(rented fake guns)
Enjoy and happy mystery solving!