Pretend you are Agatha Christie, and the year is 2020. You are trapped at home in a quarantine, but you still really want to solve an old timey murder. Look, holiday parties can be awkward, y’all, and Zoom parties can be even more awkward, but having a murder-mystery themed zoom party is an awesome way to interact with friends and family for Christmas or NYE! So pour yourself a glass of eggnog, and let’s plan this murder (mystery party).
1. Purchase a Holiday-Themed Mystery Game
The first thing you’ll need is to pick out your murder mystery game. You might think to yourself, “Won’t that be hard to manage on a Zoom call”? There are companies that make specific packages just for Zoom and have great little puzzles that you can solve as a whole group, or in breakout rooms! Here are some great options for Zoom-ready mystery themes!
Tinsel Town has been at the epicenter of many scandals this year. An organized ring of criminals who call themselves the Christmas Crime Syndicate has been causing chaos and mayhem. They have stolen Christmas trees, robbed banks, blackmailed city leaders, and even slipped defamatory statements into Christmas crackers at holiday parties. In efforts to bring the holiday cheer back, the neighborhood of Holly Hills has come together to organize a block party, and Carroll North has agreed to host. You are unsure if the Christmas cheer can be salvaged, but have decided to attend the gathering, nevertheless.
The North Pole has entered a state of chaos and turmoil. It’s two days before Christmas and Santa Claus has been kidnapped! The Chief Operations Officer of Santa’s Workshop has called an urgent meeting at Santa’s Cottage to investigate what happened and to put a search party together to find Santa Claus. Since he disappeared earlier this afternoon, the Christmas spirit has drastically diminished around the world. Hosts are canceling holiday parties, cities are denying permits for parades, prices in retail stores are skyrocketing, Christmas trees are browning without explanation, and children are flipping over to the Naughty List at record-breaking rates. If this continues, nobody will even care about Christmas by the time it gets here! You are a resident of the North Pole and might have information on Santa’s disappearance. You will attend this meeting with bells on.
The snow is falling, the cocoa is hot, carolers are singing, and children are anxiously awaiting to see what Santa has brought for them this year. Elves have been hard at work creating the perfect toys, Reindeers have been striving to keep themselves in pristine condition to handle Santa’s sleigh. Santa himself has been relentlessly preparing for his long and arduous flight. It’s almost as if everything is perfect… almost.
We know that tensions have been high lately. We’re sure that you’ve all heard the whispers, the rumors, and the scandals surrounding our frosty family. We had high hopes to bring everyone together tonight as a way to relieve the tensions that have been building over the course of this last year. We had hoped to mend relationships, rebuild burnt bridges, and put an end to the drama. We now understand, however, that these hopes may have, unfortunately, all been for nothing.
With that being said, at the end of the night, three of you will be dead.
2. Invite Guests
Now that you have picked a murder mystery theme, it’s time to invite guests! Keep in mind, that the number of guests you will have may determine what size package you buy with some companies, so you may need to apply some pressure to get those RSVPs in! Use Facebook events or Evite for those of you who have anti-social media friends!
3. Pick Roles for Guests
I always ask guests to volunteer for a big part or a passive part when they RSVP for a murder mystery party. Some friends might be more comfortable in more of a “detective” capacity, whereas some may have forgotten that they are no longer heading the high school drama team. We also don’t want to have a Moira Rose situation where the person you select your flakiest friend to be the murderer, and they no-show for the party and now no crime can take place! Most kits will designate some large roles, one of which will be the murderer, and then some roles with lesser parts, so I make sure you have more people coming than large roles just in case someone no-shows!
4. Send Roles to your Guests
Depending on the game instructions, you will want to send the role of each guest to them in advance so they have time to really get into character. Encourage your guests to get dressed up and pick out a role-appropriate background for Zoom!
5. Create a Custom Cocktail or Mocktail
This is such a fun way to make a group feel like they’re really part of the group. Come up with a group cocktail or mocktail, and send the ingredients to your guests in advance so you can all sip on the same boozy (or virgin) goodness together. Maybe it’s some sort of simple eggnog (the So Delicious coconut nog is life changing), or maybe you want to get really creative and make some cranberry infused rum and deliver mini bottles to guests in advance. Get creative!
6. Review Game Rules and Map Out Event Timeline
Some games will do this for you, but you’ll want to have all of your materials and timeline set up and ready to go before the party starts. Some games, like the ones made by My Mystery Party, even have videos to play for clues, and if your internet is already a little stretched by hosting the call, you’ll want to make sure you have the videos downloaded before the party starts. Plan for the worst! Have a timeline of which clues need to be read and which guests need to perform their parts at what time. The more prep you do in advance, the smoother the game will go for your guests!