Halloween Party: Slaughter Circus- a Murder Mystery

We’d been itching to do a Murder Mystery for a while. We wanted it to have atmosphere…transport guests to a different place…capture the real feel of Halloween…
It was hard to pick a theme. There are so many to choose from! In the end it was the number of guests we invited and our budget that won out and we selected a less expensive, character packed, “Merry Murder” brand mystery and got really excited about the idea of a really spooky circus.

We moved as much of the furniture out of our living room as we could manage in order to create something that looked and felt as different from “the norm” as it could. What we couldn’t move, we used and Incorporated into the setting or covered in “circus tent” draping. For the circus tent look, we pinned plastic table cover roles (Party City or Oriental Trading Co.) up the wall with push pins in several places.


Our T.V. was one of those things we couldn’t move. Bryan did some photo-shop work and infused a spooky old black and white circus ring photo with our murder mystery title-it also matched the invites-and then displayed it on the screen with an RGB cable hooked up to our laptop just underneath. To further create atmosphere (and this was the real key!) we downloaded a spooky circus music album…it was scary. I mean circus music is creepy all on it’s own merit without adding extra eerie stuff, but it really did the trick. Dark Lighting with as many dripping candles as we could gather set the tone.


Table settings included color themed eating-ware, Popcorn boxes filled with kettle corn for an appetizer, and handwritten name place cards (of the characters names of course!). Once guests were seated, we asked them to turn the cards around so everyone else could get familiar with the character names and see who they were talking too, or ya know, accusing of murder.
We also had each character’s script (with their individual lines highlighted) tucked under their plates. If they had any “clues’ to reveal, these were concealed in envelopes also placed underneath.


We served courses in between “rounds”, kettle corn, deep fried corn dogs, Desi’s famous mac n’ cheese with ham, and cotton candy, though the machine was a bit finicky so I think I’d just buy some next time.
Of course the real essential part of a good murder mystery party are guests who will get into it. We had awesome costumes and awesome accents (Katelyn & Tearah!) as well as some Oscar worthy male performances including some very dramatic crying.




Overall, such perfect Halloween fun!


What Bryan and I like most about parties is getting to create an atmosphere for good friends, something different, fun, and exciting. Murder Mysteries are some of the very best entertaining opportunities for that. We weren’t super fond of the murder mystery itself, the actual story and script and such, (though I posted the link anyway, just in case you’d still like to try it) and ended up changing a lot of it. We added characters, real clues (an actual white shirt with red food dye, instead of a picture of one cut out of paper), our own weathered circus ticket invitations and even edited some of the racy script. When we asked our guests what they thought of the murder mystery itself, the general consensus was that it was a little long (over 2 hours!) and the script although fun, didn’t allow for much improv, personalization, or participation. I’ve also tried “How to Host a Murder Mystery” and those were more fun than the Merry Murder one (Merry Murder is a PDF file you have to print out-kind of cheesy graphics, HTHAMM is a boxed game that comes with everything you need) but it still didn’t allow for much improvisation and had a limited amount of characters/guests.

When it came to picking a murder mystery for the following year, Bryan and I took a big chance and just decided to make one up ourselves. We made up the characters, wrote the story line, had real physical clues (instead of cheesy printed out graphics of clues), and it turned out really well! Stay tuned for that one and more murder mystery coming up in the next few weeks
If you want to plan one yourself, definitely stay tuned! Next week, I’ll share the PDF for the one we wrote so you can try your hand at who-done-its!


One Comment on “Halloween Party: Slaughter Circus- a Murder Mystery”

  1. Hello Katie and others,

    We’re a start-up Murder Mystery Party company based in the UK, and we’d like to offer you one of our host-it-yourself games for free, in the hope that if you like it you might blog about us 🙂

    They’re terribly easy to organise – our website sends out the invitations directly, by email. Also, the scripts can be previewed.

    If you’re interested, get in touch at info@daggerville.com, and also please feel free to pass the offer on to other bloggers.


    Martin (for Daggerville Games)

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