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Common Do’s of Party Hosting

More tips on decorating can be found by clicking the image above!

There are many rules when it comes to hosting a party, both expected and lesser known , that it can feel like studying for the SAT prior to the big day. While some rules are meant to be broken, we at Murder Mystery Maniacs compiled a list of common do’s we’re asked about hosting an awesome party.

Do’s:

Put together a music playlist a few days before the party. The last thing you want to do is run back and forth during your party to change the song on your iPod.

Buy (or make) plenty of ice at least 24 hours before the party. Running out of ice is a party foul, especially when serving a large group.

Give your guest plenty of drink options. Whether you decide to stock your party with a variety of mixers or have pre-made drinks, it’s better to have a few options for your partygoers to choose from.

Plan a few outfits your party the day before the event. What can look great one day can easily become stale shortly before it’s time to wear it. This way, you have an alternate look to fall back on in case you no longer like your first option.

Make final preparations for decor and party setup at least 5 hours before your party starts. Giving yourself enough time to make last-minute tweaks prevents you from feeling rushed right before your guests arrive.

What are some of your favorite party do’s? Let us know and we’ll feature some of our favorite submissions from you!

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Decorating for the Holidays: Keeping It Simple

Unsure of how to decorate? Click the image above for more ideas!

When it’s time to pull out the heavy coats, gloves, and snug hats, it’s clear that the holidays (and christmas parties) are just around the corner.

The options for decorating for your holiday party can be dauntinig–do you choose to fill your home with an explosion of Santa statues, Christmas cookies and religious symbols? Or do you opt for a simpler approach with religion-neutral decorations? Either way, the big question is figuring out how to make sure your guests will appreciate your hard work and make the night memorable.

As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to find out if your guests celebrate Christmas prior to plunking down cash on decorations and Christmas snacks to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes. Unsure of how to ask? We recommend putting a feeler out on Facebook or using a site like evite.com to gauge interest from your friends.   This way, you’ve covered your bases and reduced the chances of a possible party faux pas.

If some of your guests celebrate a different holiday, you can always stick to tried and true decorations that focus more on the winter season than the religious symbolism. Fake snow, styrofoam-crafted snowmen and white lights are staples of indoor winter decor, and symbolize the chilly season without offending anyone.

Keep your guests happy with winter-themed desserts

For desserts, choose hearty or sweet snacks such as frosted vanilla cookies, sweet potato pie or red velvet cake as a religion-neutral treat for your guests. For vegans at your party, dairy-free brownies, gingerbread cookies, and pumpkin sorbet are tasty sweets that everyone can enjoy.

You can always encourage your guests to bring a desert to share. Think about it like a cookie exchange without all the work.

For more tips on decorating for your winter holiday party, visit our Pinterest site found here. Happy holidays!

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Let Them Eat Cake: Serving Your Guests Fairly

Never run out of dessert again! Click the image for portion sizing tips.

Running out of dessert is bound to happen. You underestimate the popularity of a party treat, and before you know it there is nothing left but a few crumbs at the bottom of the dish. How did this happen, and more importantly, how can you prevent it from happening in the future?

The key to ensuring all of your guests get their fair share of decadent desserts is to buy or make the appropriate amount of sweets for your partygoers.

When serving cake, keep these rules in mind:

A round, 8” cake serves between 8 to 10 people. Of course, this is ideal for a small get-together and limits the number of seconds your guests can receive. Reserve the smaller cakes for unusual flavors to avoid wasting money on large cakes that are left mostly untouched.

A 9”x13” sheet of cake serves 12 people twice, depending on how the cake is cut. Thinner slices of cake enables more people to enjoy the dessert, but if cut too thin may result in your guests making frequent trips to the buffet. Slice the cake 4×6 to evenly provide two servings per guest.

Get an accurate head count to prevent a shortage of sweets.

An 11”x15” cake is best used for a large group of 35 people. Holiday parties, large birthday celebrations, and office parties usually require larger cakes, and therefore give you the best value per guest. Cake slices are cut 5×7 to provide 35 equal servings.

It takes practice to precisely cut a cake, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you end up over serving your guests! For more information on party tips, visit our Pinterest board found here.

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Rules, Schmules: How to Prevent Party Hiccups

It’s hard to play by the rules. When presented with something that isn’t familiar, there seems to be a part of the brain that goes “I’ll just figure it out along the way.” Our murder mystery parties require that you take a minute to learn how to play. We have some really easy tips & tricks that will make the party go flawlessly.  time to read over the guidelines to prevent spoiling the party, and shoot us an email if there’s anything you’re not quite sure about.

We completely understand your excitement! There’s the buildup of excitement about the upcoming murder mystery party, the thought of whether your guests will be prepared for the game, and most of all, will this be fun for everyone?

Once you receive your mystery party kit in the mail and rip open the package like it’s your birthday, the first thing to do is read the rules and guidelines. Avoid passing out anything until you’ve read the rule booklet in its entirety to get a good understanding of how everything is going to unfold.

We repeat: Do not pass out the character information cards. The character info cards are included in your party kit and are stapled shut to prevent curious minds from peeking before the game, and are meant to be passed out on the day of the party. We created our mysteries to make sure the characters are easy to understand, rather than make your guests spend time studying their character’s information in order to pass a quiz.

We often hear “But what if I just mail them out ahead of time?” to which we would reply “That’s not a good idea.” Something always happens when mailing out character info cards ahead of time–they are lost in the mail, someone forgets to bring the character card with them on the day of the party, or it was somehow damaged.

While rules can seem restricting, our rules and guidelines booklet is meant to be your friendly navigational tool to guide you through the party process from pre-party planning to the end of the game.

Remember–our murder mystery games are meant to be fun! Whether you’re planning a murder mystery game for a seasonal event, cocktail party, birthday party or just looking for an excuse to bring some friends together, we’re here to help.

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Stories Galore! Feast Wars is here

hunger games, hunger games party, hunger games murder mystery

The Feast Wars

You asked for a Hunger Games Trilogy Themed Mystery, and we heard you loud and clear. Starting today, the new murder mystery titled “Feast Wars” is now available. This brand-new hunger games themed mystery takes place in the not-too-distant future, and is based on a fight for survival. You can find the new Feast Wars here. Possible party ideas could be: Halloween parties, birthday party games, or for lovers of young adult books. I hope you enjoy the new mysteries as much as I enjoyed crafting them! Please contact us with any questions or feedback.

Coming Soon!

In addition to Feast Wars, we also have “Zombie Terrors” coming next week, which is a murder mystery that takes place during a zombie apocalypse. We are excited for you to try out the new parties! We are eager to hear your feedback and to see your pictures of the new characters.

 

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Venue Choices: Picking a Place for Your Party

Your party’s location enhances the overall mood of the game.

While your home is the perfect place to host a murder mystery, a venue outside of the home is a guaranteed way to impress your party guests and increase the likelihood of everyone getting into character.

Choosing a venue doesn’t have to be intimidating, especially if you’ve already decided on a specific mystery theme. Here are a few questions you’ll need to ask yourself for a successful venue selection:

Does the venue complement the theme? A speakeasy mystery is perfect for a pub or any space that has an old 1920s feel to it. The last thing you want to do is have a speakeasy murder mystery in your living room, unless you’re a Roaring Twenties enthusiast with plenty of Art Deco furniture and decor. A conflicting venue and mystery theme throws off the party’s uniformity. View the space in person to accurately determine whether it’s a good match for your mystery.

How many people can the venue hold? This may seem like an obvious question, but keep in mind you want your guests to be able to comfortably mingle during the game. A venue suitable for 70 to 90 people is ideal for at least 20 to 30 people shy of the maximum capacity to allow for breathing room. Remember, the murderer needs to be able to move freely throughout the party to avoid being caught!

Are alcoholic drinks allowed? Not every party needs to have alcohol, but it’s best to confirm with the venue owners before selecting a location.

What are the venue’s rules regarding parties that extend past the set time? Be sure to ask for a breakdown of costs to avoid unexpected charges, as a party that does not start and stop at exact times may cost you more than you expected to initially pay.

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Extra Hands: Asking a Friend for Help

If you decide to go the DIY approach to hosting a murder mystery party, you may need an extra hand or two to prepare for the day of the party and maintain order during the game. While it may be tempting to have one of your party guests assume the role of your assistant, it’s best to have someone who is not a part of the game provide help.

The party attendees will be busy interviewing each other, gathering clues and assessing those clues to determine the murderer. The last thing you want to do is pull them away from the game to help refresh drinks, put out more snacks or walk around to manage the ongoing interviews.

You may be able to forgo needing assistance depending on the number of party attendees. As a general rule, we suggest getting a friend to help out when there are more than 15 people at your party. Out of courtesy, be sure to ask for your friend or family member for help well before the party date to avoid putting them on the spot!

If you’re worried about how much time is required, we include the rules and guidelines in your party kit to give a rundown of the mystery game. We can also send the rules to you as a PDF in an email if you want to get a head start. Just email us to request a copy of the rules, and we’ll be more than happy to send you a copy.

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No-Show a Go-Go: Dealing with Absent Guests

No-shows can make or break your party. Be sure to invite reliable people.

People can be unpredictable. While we hope all of your guests who have RSVP’d to your murder mystery are courteous enough to notify you if they can’t make it to your party, things can happen shortly before showtime. When this happens, resist the urge to scream at them or go into panic mode; instead, open the critical character card to fix the problem.

The small, stapled card located in your party kit lists 4 characters who are essential to the mystery. These four people must be in the game in order for the game to make sense, which means the unlisted characters are disposable if necessary.

Our mysteries are crafted to ensure each character is somehow connected to another character, but as they say on Broadway, “Not everyone can be a star.” These supporting roles can be taken out of the game without causing the game to fall apart, as we’ve learned from our mistakes of making everyone important.

Set a definitive cut-off date to successfully organize your party.

You’re probably wondering, what if someone who is playing a critical character can’t make it? The easiest solution is to assign the critical character to a guest who was originally supposed to play a non-essential character, following by dropping the non-essential character.

Although your guest shouldn’t mind too much about having to change his or her character at the last minute, a good way to explain the situation is that he or she is getting a character upgrade. Everyone wants to feel special when playing the game, so choose “critical” when describing characters rather than “important” to avoid hurt feelings.

Still have questions? Call us at 877.213.2423 and let us know what we can do to help resolve your party dilemma.

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Food for Thought: Meal Planning 101

For more halloween menu ideas we recommend http://blog.hwtm.com

Discovering a tasty recipe that’s ideal for your mystery party feels like hitting the jackpot. You have a gut feeling it’s going to be a hit, it seems easy to make and it’ll elevate your hosting credibility to new heights. After a handful of recipe mishaps, I’ve learned that it’s best to give your recipe a test run prior to serving it to your guests.

Online recipe sites are bursting with seemingly simple ideas for tasty snacks, but the end result may cause your partygoers to be unimpressed if you don’t prepare. I’ve compiled some tips about food preparation to make sure your party is a success, from my own personal experience and helpful hints from one of my favorite books, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris.

Check your time. What may be 30 minutes for a serving of 4 can easily turn into a couple of hours depending on your guest count. A test run performed at least a week before the event helps gauge preparation time, and provides ample time for recipe adjustments.

Sample before you serve. Sure, a pretty picture of the dish can appear appetizing, but it’s crucial to taste it before the party date. Does the recipe need more or less of a specific ingredient? It’s better to know ahead of time than to hear from unhappy party guests.

Find out dietary restrictions. While it would be great if everyone could enjoy the same snack being served, there might be those at your party with a gluten or dairy allergy. Or, if you have vegetarian or vegan friends you’ll definitely need to accommodate them by providing snacks free of dairy, eggs and meat. There’s an art to politely asking if there are any dietary restrictions, and part of that is not making a fuss if someone tells you they can’t or don’t eat a specific type of food.

Mix up your snack flavors. Too many salty or sugary snacks are never a good idea when planning a party menu. Sedaris suggests, “It’s never a good idea to have too many strong flavors competing, like serving chicken teriyaki with meatballs and barbecue baked beans followed by a hazelnut mousse.” A bold-flavored snack mixed with complementary flavors are a surefire way to balance your guest’s palette.

If you’re not a culinary expert, encourage your guests to bring some of their favorite dishes for a potluck party. You can never go wrong with a variety of food options, and you simultaneously ensure people bring what they would enjoy to nibble on during the shindig.

 

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Shining Star: Increasing Guest Attendance through Personal Invitations

Do you like this invite?

It’s easy to forget your commitments in this digital age. The immediacy of information has become the dominant way of communication, with a Facebook invite reaching far more people than postal mail ever could. While some things are easily replaceable, a formal invitation sent through postal mail will remain the best way to invite people to your party and receive a timely response.

People appreciate the time and effort put into a mailed invitation. As a result, they are more likely to remember your event, whereas a Facebook invite is likely to be ignored, deleted or forgotten.

How many event invites do you receive through Facebook? Whether it’s for someone’s party, a group invite or an app request, we’re bombarded with so much information on a daily basis that it’s impossible to give your attention to everything.

A successful invitation stands out in a sea of noise with attention to detail, whether it’s an interesting design or personal touch. Add a deadline for RSVPing to prevent last-minute guests from crashing your party, as this can definitely cause unnecessary stress during the planning process.

Once your invitation is sent, allow at least two weeks for invitees to respond with a yay or nay. After two weeks, give unresponsive guests a polite reminder to RSVP so you’ll be better prepared for the number of attendees.

As the confirmations roll in you’ll get a better idea of how much you’ll need to spend for your party, which can make both you and your wallet a little happier as you continue planning. Remember, avoid waiting until a week before the party to invite others. Your guests will appreciate it, and it’s considered polite!

Do you think that the personal invitation is still valuable? We would love to hear your opinion on facebook – click here

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