How to Survive a Murder Mystery Dinner if you Hate Dress up Parties

Let’s face it, not everyone likes to dress up. If you are among those who do not enjoy dress up parties, you may feel misunderstood or even ridiculed when dress up holidays come around. In fact, strangely enough, I actually count myself among those who would rather curl up on the couch at home in front of a wood fire with a great Netflix series and pizza than go to a Halloween party or a dress up event. 

Do you find that hard to believe about someone who writes murder mystery dinner games? I know.  However, there is a way to survive – and maybe even enjoy – a murder mystery dinner or costume party when you absolutely have to.

 1.  Get your head in the game

What you think about the upcoming murder mystery dinner before you even attend it will go a long way to affecting how much you enjoy the build up and the evening itself. 

Make sure you tell yourself all the good things that are going to happen at the dress up party, focusing on the fun interactions you will have, instead of the discomfort you might feel wearing a different outfit than you normally would. Think about who will be there that you enjoy. Try chatting to other guests you know will be attending ahead of the evening and allow their enthusiasm to rub off on you. Once you start planning your outfit and taking control of what you are comfortable with, your nerves will begin to fade into the background.

Mind games all the way.  Fake it ’til you make it.  Thoughts become actions…  You get the picture.

2.  Dress up props go a long way

While you might not be comfortable getting into ‘full regalia’ for your murder mystery character, you can easily transform your normal wardrobe with a few key props, accessories or clothing items.  You may only need to hire a jacket, or hat, or buy a wig or fake beard to get the ‘flavour’ of your character across. 

Temporary tattoos and makeup can also act as a not-too-hectic way to add some colour to your murder mystery character. 

Don’t forget to ask friends and family if they have items you can borrow that will create your desired look.

Just make sure that you understand the lengths other guests are going to for their characters, though.  You don’t want to be the only one rocking jeans and a T-shirt with a fake beard when everyone else is in full 18th century getup.  Awkies!

If you discover that other guests are going full tilt with their dress up outfits, then make sure you give yourself plenty of time to research your options until you find something you would be comfortable wearing – and being photographed in.

Acting confident will make you begin to feel confident.

3.  Smoke and mirrors…

Sometimes you can make up for in performance what you’re lacking in the wardrobe department.

For example, if you’re good at accents, using a favourite twang can help you feel like you’re dressing your voice up and adding depth to your character portrayal.  You might even want to consider some quirky sayings, or a nervous tick or a ‘go to’ mannerism that’s in line with your character. Whatever you do, do it with confidence, and people will believe the character you are portraying.

When you own the fact that you need to dress up and put on the confidence you wish you had naturally, while people may notice your sparse or underdone outfit when you arrive, they’ll soon be focused on your thoughtful portrayal of your character instead!

4.  Host a murder mystery dinner yourself

Shock everyone and take the dress up party into your own hands! 

If you host the murder mystery dinner, you’re the one who gets to call the shots:  the theme, how casual the costumes are and even how long the event lasts. I find that when I am spearheading an event, I am immediately more confident in my interactions with others. Go on, surprise yourself.

If you want to free yourself to focus on getting into character, you could also explore hiring a company to do your table decor and to furnish and decorate the space according to your murder mystery dinner party theme. I have worked with Petals Group in Cape Town for years and can highly recommend them as tablescape decor and event geniuses. They have been in business since 1967 and have done event and wedding decor around the world.

A great murder mystery dinner party to start off with is my 12-player flagship Print-and-Play game.  The game has a modern theme so the outfits can be low key; there are only 12 characters and it’s a fun murder mystery dinner game to begin with!  Head on over to the Print-and-Play games section of my website, browse the available games and see which one grabs your attention. What do you say? 

Do you have any tips or tricks for making the most of a dress up party or a murder mystery dinner?  What exactly is it that puts you off attending one?  Share your insights in the comments section below – I’d love to hear from you!

Your Murder Mystery Guide,


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