I’m torn— I want to tell you all about how to host a murder mystery at your house and keep it fun and easy. AND I need to talk about the woes of planning anything social during a pandemic.
It’s such a hard time, isn’t it? And it’s especially hard for teens and young adults. It’s like someone waved a magic wand in March and said, “Your social life is now frozen.” And if you were a lucky teen with good friends and maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s not so bad. But if you’re like most, you’re still looking for your people and suddenly, almost every opportunity has evaporated. No football games, no meeting people in classes, no parties where you meet your friend’s cousin’s best friend.
So we’re trying. And we’re hunkering down. And honestly our efforts as a family mean more than ever.
Why this preamble? Because I want to offer ideas of how to salvage a small remnant of a social life in these times, but I don’t want you to be disillusioned by the pretty pictures and smiling faces. Even the slightest criticism of gathering 14 people sent my anxious daughter into a tailspin and she’s now so worried about spreading coronavirus, this may be the last social event Mary attends for the rest of the year.
Family. Family. Family.
As winter sets in (it’s snowing right now!), and case numbers rise, we’re recognizing how much we need each other as a family. More than ever, we need traditions and magic and laughter. Sure, we could slink off to different parts of the house on weekend nights to read, watch movies or just work, but we have an opportunity to connect. Yes, I love the spontaneous family parties, where we all happen to gather around the table or at Ben and Sam’s and we talk and laugh until far too late. But we can’t just count on those– making plans makes things happen.
And that’s why you should plan a murder mystery party.
Mary and her friends planned this as a a replacement for the Monster Mash dance usually held in October. A murder mystery, and especially Abi Ayres’ murder mystery, proved to be the perfect replacement because:
- it gives the party a theme and a structure. Have you ever planned an event with a bunch of teens or young adults, or anybody? A murder mystery eliminates so many decisions and provides so much fun in return
- costume ideas are built right into the game (no long debates about what to wear)
- the mystery provides hours of conversation which is especially useful for inexperienced daters, friends and family who need a break from the woes of the world
- also, in Abi’s mystery, the host can still play the game. And in my book that’s a BIG bonus.
Abi’s game has an even male/female split can accommodate up to 14 players or as few as nine.
Mary’s friends brought all the food for the dinner (one friend even brought outdoor heaters) and all we did was set the table and print out the game. It’s a digital download so you don’t need to wait for shipping.
Mary mailed out the character packets a week before and it’s 5-10 minutes of reading for everyone. The girls weren’t sure if the boys would dress up but they did and they all looked AMAZING. It’s a 1920s theme and pretty easy for most people to find something around the house that works (and three cheers to Clara for finding an adorable maid costume).
We did get a few maskless photos:
Mary invited Will, our adorable next-door-neighbor who always brings the fun.
A murder mystery might sound like a lot of work, but Mary honestly didn’t even read through it until 5 minutes before everyone arrived. And it went beautifully– they talked and laughed until midnight (and many of the boys had never even met each other before), ran through every scenario of the game and left feeling like they’d recovered a scrap of high school life.
All the brothers saw how much fun Mary and her friends had, so we determined to have a family murder mystery. We set the date, planned some food,shuffled all the papers back into order and I set the table.
But Covid struck– Xander’s girlfriend, Madi was exposed at work and Sammie was so tired from late night Covid meetings at the Capitol she could barely stay awake. It’s getting scary in Utah.
Still, we planned, we gathered around the table and admired baby Fritz. When Ben, Sammie and Fritz left, we watched Rebecca in the basement. We’ll try again on the murder mystery; we’re several steps closer than we were before. It definitely, doesn’t need to be a Halloween activity (I know a family who does one every year between Christmas and New Year’s).
Keep trying, right? It’s all we can do. As a family we need each other more than ever. We’re going to get through this time. And some days all we can do is shuffle and survive. But I also want to create some magic. We need our traditions more than ever. This week, we’re planning Halloween shenanigans and Heather’s birthday and then we’ll start planning sledding days and cross country skiing and the pie list for Thanksgiving Day.
We need things to look forward to, we need joyful, carefree hours. I feel passionate about making sure we get outside– even, or especially on the cold, dark days when the sun shines only for a few hours.
As the number rise and infections increase, more and more we’ll be limited to our own household. Let’s make that a glorious world, a haven of peace and love and joy– with, ya know, an occasional murder mystery thrown in.
p.s. Abi just added a 15% off coupon for the game. The code is Halloween