1920’s Murder Mystery Party Part 1: The Making of A Speakeasy

This past year I decided to throw a Halloween party, and here we are, in January, talking about it.

I’m nothing if not prompt.

How to throw an epic and ridiculously fun Murder Mystery Party for your friends (you know you want to):

I bought my game from Dinner and a Murder. I purchased the PDF version for download because it was cheaper. I didn’t factor in the fact I had invited 50 people, and the amount of printing and stapling I had to do was insane and annoying. Do yourself a favor and buy the box set. Especially if you are having more than 15 guests. Unless you want to have the same party again, because you can use the PDF files as often as you like.

This party took place in the 1920’s at a Speakeasy. I decided to transform my house into a secret and exclusive “juice joint”. I will be honest and say I didn’t enjoy the graphics and font on the games from Dinner and a Murder, but I liked the way the games were formatted and how they offer you the ability to add characters as needed.  I didn’t use the invitations or covers for the booklets they provided, instead I made my own. It took extra time but I felt it was important to set the right tone, and I wanted the tone to be more of a reference to the 1920’s than to computer clip art.

I purchased these invitations at Target, and printed out the text on ye old printer. To add to the fun, I included a password: “Horsefeathers! Pass the hooch!” No password, no admittance. And because I’m hilarious, I didn’t give everyone a password, or an official invite. Instead I gave them extra “money” and told them they’d have to bribe their way past the bouncer (one of my friends played a gangster disguised as a bouncer).
 One of my girlfriends decided to go with the crying route and she didn’t have to pay a dime and still got in. Apparently “Al Capone” is a huge softie.

I added red nail polish for a murderous touch

My mother spent several months thinking that a “Speakeasy” was a movie theater until the day I was discussing booze for the party.  Speaking of booze, these were the party favors:

I found free printables on here,and made my artsy friend help me cut and mod podge them to tiny bottles of gin I purchased at Bev Mo for about a dollar each. They looked amazing when we were done, which was a good thing because they took forever.
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For the entrance I snagged these beaded curtains from Save on Crafts. It’s a pretty neat website for party decorations that aren’t made from cardboard.
My husband (who is in the forefront with suspenders and a cigar!) hung these Christmas lights from the ceiling. It was an affordable way to make a big impact. If you look on the back wall you can make out a painting of Charlie Chaplain. My friend Jess is a great artist and she had painted both Charlie and a reproduction Mucha which I demanded she lend me. It was free and beautiful. Thanks Jess!
Vintage cameras and calendar from Jessica’s collection, cigar boxes from ebay, pearl necklaces and feather boa’s from my friend Adriana, gin bottle party favors, and bubble gum cigarettes from Amazon.com. If you do purchase cigarettes from Amazon, get the bubble gum ones. They’re more expensive than the candy but they blow fake smoke and you can’t put a price on fake smoke. 

 I asked people to bring food and desserts. No one minded and it made the party more affordable. In my kitchen I covered the counters with black plastic tablecloth. It’s sold by the rolls at party supply stores. I also ordered black gossamer from the Oriental Trading Company. I hung the black to cover up modern appliances and my cupboards. I didn’t want my oven to ruin the mood, you know?

The black puffy balls are from Oriental Trading Co. and the lace tablecloth is from my mother. I also managed to procure a ridiculous amount of doilies.
The plastic grapes and the red votive candles are from a friend. The plates and napkins were at Target. They were hilarious so I bought them. I should have purchased more cups, but what did I know?

 I turned the play room into a creepy sitting room. There was a cardboard chandelier that I (again!) borrowed from a pal. You can find templates for making one online and good luck to you, it seems like a lot of work. Anyway I was able to procure some vintage items from my friend, so the lamp, radio and books were all appropriate to the era.

 The view from the loft. You can see the Mucha painting over the fire place and some electronic candles I purchased at the dollar store.

 Beer in the bathtub. Our version of bathtub gin. There was also a lot of IBC soda in there because I had three pregnant ladies in attendance.

 Votive candles in mason jars lit up the back porch area.

 I purchased a roll of chalkboard contact paper (it’s a thing!) from Amazon.com. I doodled an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote that I felt would be appropriate for a murder mystery party with a chalk pen.

The Front Door with a poster purchased from Amazon.com. I turned off the lights outside and didn’t rake leaves to make it seem like an abandoned building.

 Old jars modpodged with Halloween scrapbook paper and printables from Martha Stewart 2012 Halloween magazine.

 My long suffering friend Jessica, slaving away while her son looks on and I complain about fumes from the mod podge.

The name tags were hand made by Jess, who I think we can all agree is delightfully obsessive compulsive. She also added some blood splats to lighten the mood. Also, I should be a professional photographer.

Click here to see the COSTUMES (which were AMAZING) and read about the murders and playlist. This party was so much fun for me to plan, and I had a blast seeing my friends looking fabulous.

If you want to see my inspiration board, here it is on Pinterest. Pretty much all the blurry pictures in this post were taken by me, and the good ones were shot by my friend Candi. Thanks Candi!
Disclaimer: no one has paid me or given me anything to talk about their websites or products.  

10 thoughts on “1920’s Murder Mystery Party Part 1: The Making of A Speakeasy

  1. So fun. I had a murder mystery party for my 30th or 31st birthday. There were only, like, 8 of us. Two of the people who'd promised to be there didn't show up, and they were central characters, so I had to run downstairs and ask the neighbors (whom I hadn't invited, previously) to fill in. That made me feel like a horse's ass. BUT my friend Dave showed up in a kimono, and–in that instant–I knew how much he loved me, so that made the whole embarrassing party worth it. Also, my sister was the killer. No one was surprised. Her boyfriend gave me a Hamilton Beach mixer. It's amazing and still in high use.

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  2. That is really fun! You did a great job! So many little details that made a big difference!
    I went to a small Bible college that had brother/sister fellowships instead of fraternities and sororities. The fellowship I was in hosted a party like this every year. Our school used to be a tuberculosis hospital way back when so it has super creepy old buildings. It was perfect and always lots of fun!

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  3. I kept seeing your pins and was wondering what you were up to (and why I wasn't invited, hmmmm?)

    So glad you posted this. Love the bathtub booze, but you know me. BTW–a friend and I successfully paired up my brother and his wife at a murder mystery party I hosted. They sat next to each other but didn't say a word to one another all night. The next day, my two-headed brother called the girl's mother and said, “You don't know me, but I met your daughter at a party last night and wondered if you could give me her phone number.”

    They've now been married for like forever. True story. The end.

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