Halloween Mystery Party

The premise was fairly straightforward: It's 1926, the inheritors of an old house have just re-opened it, and they're celebrating by throwing a dinner party for the cream of society. During the party, strange things start to happen (disembodied knockings and moanings are heard, a bloody rag is found, objects seem to move). It could be a ghost. However, each of the guests also has a motive for "haunting" the house. Whodunnit?

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Logistics

We sent out an initial invitation, explaining a bit about the theme of the party and asking each guest:

Once we had this, we planned the characters and assigned clues. We decided to base each character loosely on real people. The guests then received a second "invitation" and packet. They each received:

By marvelous coincidence, the year 1999 (when we threw the party) and the year 1926 (when the party was set) both had the exact same calendar. So all of our correspondence had the 1926 date.

We hit e-Bay and purchased a lot of cheap props, including a magazine from 1926 which we left lying on a table.

One of the guests--Emily Pillar--was supplied with a prop: An antique locket with vintage photos inside. The photograph of the man matched a picture supplied to General Grant.

The party was held in the dining room and basement of a friend's home. We put slipcovers over all of the furniture, and lit the place with candles (we explained this by saying that, having been closed for years, the house wasn't wired). We didn't do any obvious Halloween decorating, since this was purportedly a dinner party, not a Halloween party. We did decorate the table with Indian corn and dried gourds, and we tried for an overall, "something's not quite right, but we can't figure out what" design scheme.

We rented all dishware (mostly black glass). We offered cocktails and nibbles before dinner, then had a sit-down dinner. The guests were encouraged to drop hints throughout; after dinner we retired back downstairs and discussed the "strange goings-on" in the house. We pieced together the story of the house, and solved the mystery. The denouement was when we broke down a "wall" (some drywall that had been spackled into a door in the semi-finished basement) to reveal a Bucky skeleton dressed in a Confederate uniform. (Small joke: According to the story, these are the mortal remains of Roger "Red" Grant. So the guests found...say it with me...Red Skeleton.)

A few pictures of the results are here. (I'm the one in red at bottom left in the group shot. My fiance--Aleister Crawley--is next to me in black.) I have several more pictures, but I'm afraid that my apathy hasn't much abated. They'll get posted one of these days.

All of this is, of course, (c) 2000, 2001 and, what the heck, 1948 by WebMoose.