How To Host A Mystery Party

Mystery parties encourage people to lose their inhibitions and let their inner goof-ball shine! So, this is a great way to get to know your friends better, encourage deeper relationships among the guests, and build life-long memories. And who doesn't need a good belly-laugh?  So, here are some tips to help you plan:
 

  • Start well in advance! This is the most important advice of all! It is crucial that you give yourself and your guests plenty of time to prepare. We recommend sending out inviations a month in advance to give your guests time to respond and yourself time to replace them if they can't make it.

  • Choose your guests wisely. Because there is a specific number of parts, it is important that all the guests show up. Also, though many normally shy people find this venue a fun way to come out of their shells, others may not enjoy an activity of this sort.  If you're not sure, ask your potential guest if they're interested before sending them an official invitation.

  • Really play up the theme! Check out the pictures below taken at a large mystery dinner theatre event put on at a church to support their women's ministry. The theme of "Who Invited The Stiff To Dinner?" is 1920s England, so the guests dresssed as flappers and mustached, English gents. They decorated art-deco style and even sold feathered-head piece accessories in advance. Looks like tons of fun!

  • Make your meal manageable. If you are planning a dinner to go along with your mystery game (which we highly recommend!), make sure to figure out well in advance what to make, how to serve it, and how to make it fit your theme. We have some delicious recipes on our blog for you to try.

  • Have a blast! There are lots more tips we could give you--like to give out theme-based party gifts, make sure to include an end-time on your invitaitons if your guests are teens who don't drive, and be sure to read the full directions before setting a date--but, most of all, we just hope this is way more fun than work and that you let yourself have a great time, too! Your guests are going to have fun no matter what, so don't fuss so much that you miss out on the fun.

How To Host A Fundraiser

PUT THE "FUN" IN FUNDRAISER, BY HOSTING A MYSTERY DINNER THEATRE PRODUCTION!

Because the party games offered here are fully scripted, they can easily be adapted to the stage. This makes them perfect for use as a mystery dinner theatre production. In particular, "Who Invited The Stiff To Dinner?" has built-in breaks within the script to allow for food service, time for your guests to eat, and a chance for the audience to guess the killer. By hosting mystery dinner theatres, you can sell tickets (or take donations) and raise money for any of the following:
 

  • Your Local School

  • Your Favorite Charity

  • Camp Scholarships

  • A Church Ministry

  • A Church Youth Group

  • A Missions Trip

  • An Educational Trip

  • AND ANY OTHER GOOD CAUSE YOU CAN THINK OF!

 

We have other great ideas, too! Whenever you're able to get people to come to an event, it's a great opportunity to inform them about your products or services, advertise promotions, secure regular donors or pledges, and build relationships that last. Here are some ways you can do these things:
 

  • Start well in advance! This is the most important advice of all! It is crucial that you give yourself and your performers plenty of time to prepare--not weeks, but months! Also, start advertising early. Give time for word-of-mouth to work in your favor. And don't forget to advertise on your website and social media--including directions to your event.

  • Really play up the theme! For example, "Who Invited The Stiff To Dinner?" is set in the 1920s. One group, who purchased this script from us, hosted a mystery dinner theatre party for their Christian women's group, Rooted. The guests were asked to dress as flappers and 1920s gents. The women wore fancy dresses, boas, long beads, and feathered head-pieces. The men wore suits, fake mustaches, spectacles, and hats. (Actually, some of the men wore women's garb and it was hilarious!) To make even more money, consider selling accessories (feathered headpieces, mustaches, etc.) in advance to your guests. And, be sure to decorate accordingly.

  

FREE 15-minute, fundraiser-planning consultation for anyone who has purchased one of our products and wants to throw a mystery dinner fundraiser!
No event too big or too small! Just contact us via our contact page to set up a time!

  • Place a small gift as well as information cards and pledge cards/donation envelopes at each place setting. This gift can be anything from a small bag of mixed candy/chocolates to a personalized key chain or mug with your non-profit's logo on it. Be creative!

  • Give your guests a chance to sign up for your newsletter. You can get a free online newsletter service though Mail Chimp.

  • Pair your dinner theatre fundraiser (tickets for which you sell in advance) with a donations-based fundraiser, such as a silent auction.  (Get items for silent auction donated in advance and allow those businesses to include a small informational display of their own on the table next to their donation.)

  • Pair your dinner theatre fundraiser with a raffle. You can also pair it with a raffle and start selling these tickets in advance. This is a great way to secure a contribution from both attendees and those who can't make it to the production.

  • Include a gift and/or book table! Sell items bearing your non-profit's logo, memorabilia, and appropriately themed items. (Contact us if you want to sell our products at your event! Authorized sellers can get our products at discount!)

  • If you can, offer your paying guests a promotional discount at the book table or give them a coupon for future use at one of your events.

  • Save money by using volunteers. Wherever possible,  use volunteers instead of paid help (volunteers can make costumes, set up/clean up, work the sound & lights, run the book table--even cook and serve the food). Start grooming them early and then treat them well! Frequent thank you's, encouragement, and an occasional appreciation luncheon goes a long way. And don't forget to include a thank you to them on your program!

  • Offer door prizes (advertise this early) and a prize for whoever guesses the identity of the culprit correctly.  Even if you choose not to use one of our plays as your script, they would make excellent and unique prizes for your guests! You could do something fun with this, such as having a drawing and have drawing winners spin a big wheel to see what prize they got.

  • Include raffle tickets in your invitation mailings. If you are able to acquire a larger prize worthy of raffle--anything from a quilt to a cruise--go ahead and include some numbered raffle tickets with the price printed on them (e.g. $10 for one/$25 for three). This way, your invitees have something tangible in hand to entice them, but you do not have to honor any tickets without receiving payment first.

  • Get your door prizes, raffle prize, catering costs, etc. paid for in advance by your VIP supporters. If you have the correct tax status, offer receipts for the goods and services donated to you. (Make sure not to sign off on falsely inflated prices.) Include your donors' names/logos in a special section on your program for sponsors along with a big thank you.

  • Make sure your guests go away feeling like they got the better end of the bargain! Be courteous and helpful. Give away some free prizes--the more the better. (You can get these donated!) Find a way to involve them in the action. Honor those who guess the culprit correctly and make a big deal about it. If your event is on or near Valentine's Day--give an unexpected prize to the most newlywed couple in attendance and the couple who has been married the longest. Be creative! Make sure the food is both delicious and filling--and don't skimp on dessert! Basically, your guests should leave with an unexpected blessing--whether it's a great memory or something tangible or both!--and a desire to come back for more!

  • Have your core group of supporters host a table which they are supposed to fill with people they know. The goal here is to reach a broader audience of potential, regular donors. Many of these folks will be people who you wouldn't reach any other way. But, word of mouth is still a very powerful mode of advertising!

 

And, for good measure, here are a few DON'Ts:
 

  • Don't wait until the last minute to advertise, talk to your donors about donating door prizes, get your actors rehearsing, or secure the venue and catering. Three big reasons to get started early and plan for unexpected mishaps: 1. Life is Busy! You're competing with all the other fun, worthy, or necessary suff people have to do. 2. Things go wrong! Your printer will mess up your invitations, your special-order-only lights will go out, your lead will come down with the flu.  So start early and plan ahead! 3. You DON'T want your guests to think you didn't care enough to do things right. If you don't care, why should they?

  • Don't try to be so cutting-edge that you confuse your audience. One well-intentioned non-profit leader (against  the advice of her employees) threw a virtual-praise-a-thon. People were supposed to raise money for a worship event that they weren't actually participating in. It was weird, nobody understood the concept and, worst of all, it didn't work.  Very few participated and the non-profit barely broke even after overhead costs. And, beware of the new fad of virtual parties being hosted on Facebook. It might work to a certain degree, but it makes you look a little lazy. This is not the best way to make your donors feel pampered or special, although you might solve that by offering some free give-aways for participants. Still, I wouldn't rely on this method of "interacting" with your public.

  • Don't waste your guests' time!  You can put your long-winded announcements in your e-newsletter later. You can put your thank you's in your program. Aside from brief need-to-know information and a short shout-out to the major contributors, your main job is to give your audience what they came for. If you do that, they'll come back next time. If you bore them or waste their time... well, there's always a ball game on the tube.

  • Don't forget to give back! If you're a non-profit, you're probably already giving back to the community. I mean, that's why you exist, right? But, it's important for your donors to know how well you're spending their hard-earned bucks. They need to know that they are an integral, vital part of your success. Within a couple of weeks after the event, follow up with a newsletter to your donors thanking them, telling them how much you earned, and how that money is being spent. Send personal thank you's to all who participated in putting on the event and find creative ways to reward your volunteers. For example, if they are students in drama, maybe their participation can get them some school credit or count toward a project. If they are looking for a job, write them a nice reference.

  • Don't forget about the kiddos! All of our materials are family-friendly, but that doesn't mean a 2-year-old will be able to sit through it quietly. If you can offer on-site child-care (even for an exta fee/donation), then do so. This will dramatically increase your potential audience base!

  • Don't forget about those in need of extra assistance. Reserve a section in the front for wheelchairs, make sure you select a venue that is handicap accessible, and, if possible, find a sign-language  expert to volunteer to sign for you. (Then, be sure to advertise your thoughtfullness!)

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