For most of these murder mystery games, you have to have an exact number of attendees (in this case, 8). The game came with invitations and envelopes, so I sent them out. In this day and age, receiving a physical invite in the mail is kind of a big deal, and people responded accordingly, probably guilted into RSVP'ing by the effort I had put into buying stamps.
I created a sign for the door, "Torchy's Gin Joint - Password Required for Entry. Please check guns at the door."
Then I moved the furniture around and decorated my apartment like a speakeasy. I got a bunch of fun signs and cut-outs at the party store, and purchased silver and black decorations to hang from the ceilings and over the doorways. I also purchased some cheap silver tablecloths and used them to cover the blinds, giving the whole place a glitzy, dance hall atmosphere.
I filled the bathtub with water and threw in some food coloring and ginger ale, then placed a sign, "Torchy's Bathtub Hooch - Drink at your own risk!"
My friends all showed up dressed in appropriate 1920's costumes. The characters (described in detail in the game) were all assigned in advance, so everyone knew what their attire should be like. I was playing Torchy, the seductive lounge singer and gin joint owner.
Next, I planned a dinner menu suited for the 1920's. In retrospect, it probably would have been smarter to just make appetizers, as it was kind of a hassle to serve a sit-down meal in the middle of the game, but everyone enjoyed it. I also served period appropriate cocktails (look for the dinner & cocktail menus in the menu portion of this site).
My guests took the evening quite seriously, and when they first arrived, spent time mingling while in character, introducing themselves and elaborating on the stories they already knew about their characters.
One mistake I made was serving way, way too many drinks before we started the game. I would recommend starting the game shortly after everyone arrives, or you may have drunk party guests that lose their concentration frequently, causing the game to go on way too long. Not that my friends would ever let that happen to them...
Another word of advice - if you serve cake, try not to let the entire table burst out laughing as one guest proceeds to choke on it. Yes, it's very ironic that someone could choke on cake, but sometimes the ensuing hilarity can cause one to forget to apply the proper life saving measures. Mike did not actually die that night, but it was a close call, and he certainly didn't deserve to be mocked for getting some dessert stuck in his craw.
I created a 20's dance mix, filled with the most popular jazz hits of the time. It gave an authentic feel to the evening, having those catchy tunes playing in the background. I also printed out instructions for dancing The Charleston, The Foxtrot, and other famous dances of the decade
Reportedly, this entire outfit came from a thrift store, but it's hard to believe considering the perfect fit and panache it took to wear it.Kyle got this flashy teal shirt at the Salvation Army for a dollar.... the hat came from the party store, also a dollar.
If you overserve your guests, this is what they may look like by the end of the night.
By the time the evening was over, we had discovered the murderer amongst us, stuffed ourselves to the gills with food and alcohol, and danced the Charleston. All in all, a great success!
A footnote: We bought an authentic bottle of moonshine for the occasion. A couple of days later, Kyle decided to try to finish the bottle off. After a number of shots, he fell on the floor, declared that he had gone blind, and began to laugh. That laughter soon turned to tears.
Kyle now states for the purposes of this blog that he will never drink moonshine again. I've posted this public service ad below, to warn of the dangers of this enticing and potentially toxic elixir.