Last night I hosted a ladies-only murder mystery party and I don't think it went very well and I've been fuming about it ever since.
The regular party details - food, drink, excellent guests - were in fine form. So at least there is that. I was not embarrassed to serve the pizzas and meatballs and caprese bites and other "Italian-ish" fare (the mystery was set in Venice) that was actually cooked by ME, and dudes, I MUST recommend this punch: 1 can limeade, 1 2-liter bottle of Sprite, a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream and raspberries. I pretty much had my face in the punch bowl the whole time.
And my friends... oh, my friends are so lovely. I just think all of them are the bee's knees. Because the MYSTERY part of the party was a DUD and they played along anyway.
So the MYSTERY... okay, so I could only find games for up to 6 or 8 people in stores, but there were downloadable games for many more party goers. I was expecting about 12, and between the number of guests, the fact that we were all women, and the relative professional-ness of some of the download sites, I ended up picking this Venetian masquerade game. Also because my parents are in possession of tons of Carnevale masks (they used to buy one on every trip to Venice, SIGH) and I thought those would make good decorations. (And I can sort of pull off Italian food.)
But it wasn't very good. It was poorly written. It was full of typos. Sometimes it mixed up character names. There was way too much reading aloud. It was not entirely intuitive when it came to what you were supposed to share with the group and what you should keep hidden. Also there were a couple of riddles and puzzles and they were silly. The one where the answer to a riddle looking for a "ferocious beast" was PIGEON was probably the Height of Party Hilarity. (I wanted to die. Of course.)
It was confusing and awkward to get started, and because of typos and character mix-ups and poorly written-ness it continued to be somewhat confusing and awkward. EVEN THOUGH my sister and I had gone through the entire mystery so it would go as smoothly as possible. I separated out all the chapters and pieces of "evidence" and thought about how to work around an incredibly stupid puzzle at the very end. Thank goodness for my sister, who played her Crime Investigator role to a T and several of my friends whose tombstones will eventually read EXCELLENT PARTY GUESTS, but I was still disappointed and the ending felt a bit incomplete and BAH. Failure!
Here I will again bust out my enneagram mumbo jumbo and say: I AM A THREE. I need to succeed. If I fail, no one loves me. And here I had invited a bunch of people who had never been to a mystery party before and now they would NEVER GO TO ONE AGAIN. Especially one thrown by me! OH THE HORROR. No really, I stewed about it all night and stewed about it all day.
Then tonight I was fixing dinner for the kids and getting the table and ready, and oh, what's this? A stack of papers? That look like they were not used? A stack of papers that say CHAPTER FIVE CLUES? Hmm. OMYGODDIDIFORGETAWHOLECHAPTEROFCLUES???
If you know anything about me you know that it is taking a MASSIVE amount of character for me to admit to this Abect Screwup on my personal website, in front of God and Country. The mystery was not entirely to blame. IT WAS ALSO ME. And not just because I picked a dud of a mystery! I am not even kidding you, when I saw that stack of clues I thought I would crawl under a rock and never ever ever come out.
So! I highly recommend throwing a mystery party and leaving out a good chunk of the mystery as a way to feel like the lowest class of moron. I read through the clues and yes, a lot of our issues at the end of the story (possibly all the parts where we were like, "Hey! I didn't know that about myself!") might have been worked out, it was still confusing what you were supposed to share and keep hidden. Either way: I AM SO SORRY, PARTY GUESTS. I owe you all about two hours back. I have punished myself by sitting around wondering what sorts of things you are saying about my crappy mystery party to your husbands. MOAN.
That said, it was a "learning experience" (that's my mom talking, who I had to call today to vent, obvs) and here is what I've learned:
1. I LIKE the cheesy murder mysteries with the silly names and sillier costumes. This one advertised itself as being a mystery that people wouldn't feel dorky about, but honestly, that's a part I ENJOY. I once threw one of these for my siblings on New Year's Eve several years ago and we STILL laugh about the picture of us in costume - me in a Marilyn Monroe wig, my sister in a French maid outfit, my brother wearing a vaguely pedophile-ish mustache. I think it's more fun to "own" a certain character, instead of this mystery which was more a bunch of socialites gathering for a masquerade, with nothing in our dress to make us funny or distinguish us from each other.
2. I suspect it might be more fun with fewer people. Maybe not. Maybe if I'd picked a good one I'd say the opposite. But it was difficult to "question" each other in a large circle. We were SUPPOSED to be walking and mingling, but again, the way the clues were written, it wasn't very intuitive and I'm not sure mingling would have worked. I don't really KNOW, but it just seemed that way at the time.
3. More drinking might have helped.
4. No reading aloud! I mean, there has to be SOME reading aloud, but because you weren't ever quite sure what you were supposed to be saying (POOR WRITING) a lot of us eventually ended up just reading off our clues. Eh.
Anyway. My INSTINCT, as a THREE, is to immediately plan a follow up party, a REDEMPTION if you will, to prove myself as a party thrower and murder mystery games as actual fun. But, ah, I realize normal people are not so obsessive. And they probably wouldn't attend anyway, having already been through one of THOSE before...
I think next time (OF COURSE THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME) I will buy one in a box from the store, as it seems it might have gone through an editor or two to be printed out and put in a box. Yes? But even then, it's not like you get to read the whole mystery ahead of time. Even my first successful party had a sort of stupid ending. We just didn't care!
BLAH BLAH BLAH whatever it's over and YAY PEOPLE I KNOW because if nothing else, I got to have all my favorite girls around eating cake. THE END.