Titanic Mystery Party -15yr- Hurry We're Sinking
Lilian in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America
My name is Lilian, and I am fifteen years old. One of my greatest passions is throwing themed parties, and every year my friends ask for them. This past spring, I threw my first ever murder mystery party. I had attended a murder mystery party that was out of a box set that was bought online, and after examining it, I made the conclusion that I could simply write a murder mystery myself and not have to buy a stuffy box set. Easier said than done. Five months after the first try, I have held the best party I have ever thrown: A Murder Mystery Set on the R.M.S. Titanic.
INVITATIONS: Whenever I throw a mystery party I usually invite five to eight people. Each of them has a character, and their character's name is an anagram of their real name. For instance, my name is Lilian Hopson, and I have had anagrams such as Napolli Hinso, Hillan Poison, and (for this party) Miles Cholapan. The front of the invitation was a replica of the boarding passes for the R.M.S. Titanic's maiden voyage. It was very easy to find images of the original boarding passes and then re-create them on Microsoft Word. The back side had an image of their character washed out behind the text, almost like a ghost. I included information such as their ticket number, name, reason for traveling, where they were traveling to, who they were traveling with, their cabin number, class, etc. At the bottom, I included the date, time, location, and told them to bring whatever toiletries/sleeping bags/clothes they needed, and a writing utensil and notebook. I also let them know that they needed to come IN COSTUME as their character- they love that.
DECORATIONS: I tend to go overboard with decorations, but this time I did not have much money to spend on decor. What I did was make CDs of historically accurate music that would have been played on the Titanic and had that music playing on each of the floors of the house. Not only did it give a great ambiance, it was 55 minutes long and the end of it let the players know when to start heading back downstairs. I also, very importantly, made a large map of the house. For each room of the house, there was a corresponding room that was on the Titanic. For instance, the office was used as the library, a walk-in closet as the Cargo Hold, the bedrooms were used as the characters' cabins/staterooms, etc. Then I printed out pages with the name of each room and a picture of that actual room on the Titanic with a White Star Line logo and posted them on the doors.
ACTIVITIES: The mystery itself was a game that lasted about an hour and a half. The guests arrived and received envelopes with a diary entry their character had written, information they knew about the other characters, and other clues or notes they needed. They all read these until all the guests had arrived. Then we went downstairs and watched a DVD I had burned that had clips from the movie Titanic, virtual tours I downloaded, and other clips while I explained to them how everything was to work. The pool table served as an evidence table, and whenever anyone found a clue, they had the option of putting it on the evidence table to share with everyone, or keeping it to themselves (because this game was a competitive race to see who would find the murderer first). Also on the evidence table, I had the words VICTIMS, SUSPECTS, and MURDERER. I had pictures of each of the characters with their names cut out, and as the game progressed, those pictures would be moved under the category they were in.
After the main introduction, everyone went up to the Dining Hall and we ate dinner in character. I will discuss what we ate under party snacks. We were in character the whole time throughout dinner, and so the characters were able to carry on conversation to figure out the motives of other characters. All of the sudden, my friend's mom (dressed up as a steward with a mustache on) burst into the room and informed us that a body had been found, shot dead on the A-Deck Promenade. A life size cardboard replica of Humphrey Bogart served as our dead man on the porch. One of the characters identified him as her husband, Edgar Mierz. Every character had some sort of relation to him. But all of the sudden, a clip of the Titanic hitting the iceberg played. The ship had been hit!
We only had so much time to find the killer before the ship was at the bottom of the ocean! Then, the sleuthing started. I had set up puzzles and clues all over the house/ship. I had actually been worried that the riddles and puzzles I had designed would be too difficult, but my guests enjoyed them very much. It was all individual effort, so the guests felt a competitive drive to solve puzzles before everyone else. For some of my clues, I used passages from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (a collection of Persian poetry). The passages were first made into puzzles: one I did in Morse Code, one I scrambled up for them to solve But the riddles were difficult. One of them was There was a door to which I had no key, There was a veil past which I could not see. This was supposed to indicate a Staff Only room.
There were plenty of other clues, such as a bloody scarf (planted in one of the character's rooms by a killer), baby powder on one of the character's jackets (gunpowder), a key, ripped notes, segments of letters, pictures cut out to be puzzles the clues themselves were very elaborate and fun. Towards the end, everyone gathered downstairs. The victim's wife suddenly starts to tell us all something very important before I turned off the lights, shouted Bang!, and she fell down dead. Then a five minute long clip played, a simulation of what a room would look like as it filled with water on the Titanic. Everyone had those last five minutes to fill out an I Accuse sheet, then each read who they thought was the murderer, and what evidence they had to support that. The killer was announced and then dragged off to be locked in a room and go down with the ship as everyone else rushed to the lifeboats. Afterwards, we all had dessert and watched the film I had recorded throughout the party. Then we watched the movie Titanic, and fell asleep.
COSTUMES: Everyone came in a costume that corresponded to their character, which was very fun for them. Some of them did research on what was worn at the time and what the hairstyles were. One of my friends came wearing a corset under her dress, another with her hair all done up, long white gloves, and a long cigarette holder with a candy cigarette! Seeing everyone's costumes was one of my favorite parts. My mother even made me a vest and put a gold chain on it to look like a pocket watch chain, and I used my great-grandfather's pipe.
PARTY SNACKS: Because this was a sleepover, we ate dinner not long after the guests arrived. One of my obsessions is historical accuracy, so I made menus that looked almost exactly like the ones on the Titanic that featured dishes that were actually served on the ship. Unfortunately, some of my guests were picky eaters and vegetarians, so I didn't get to make Lamb with Mint Jelly and Salmon with Dill Sauce like I wanted. But dinner still was fantastic! Everyone loved it. We had shrimp cocktail, Cheddar and Gorgonzola cheese with crackers, boiled New Potatoes and vegetables, Macaroni Pasta with Cheese, Punch, and plenty of other drinks anyone wanted. People snacked on the cheese and crackers and the shrimp cocktail after dinner a bit as well, and after the murderer was identified, we had our dessert, the highlight of all the food: Chocolate clairs and French Ice Cream.
CAKE: We didn't have cake, we had chocolate clairs and Ice Cream instead.
FAVORS: Instead of favors, I usually have Awards for certain things at the end of the party. The players always vote for the person they think should when the Awards, and the person with the most votes in a certain category received the award. The awards always correspond to the theme. This time, I gave awards for Best Costume (Medieval Costume in England and France The 13th, 14th, and 15th Centuries by Mary G. Houston), whoever obtained the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Iced Gingerbread Cookies and chocolate gold coins as a reward), whoever obtained the Painting with the secret German files (Silver Playing Cards and chocolate gold coins as a reward), The Most Valuable Player (The Titanic: End of a Dream book), a tin of Bite the Bullet! Bullet shaped mints to the killer, whoever obtained the Ancient Ruby (Cactus-flavored Machismo bubblegum cigarettes), the Best Role-player (If I Only Had a Brain Music Box), the Most Outrageous Accent (Bush Dum Gum), and Whoever Solved the Mystery First (Sherlock Holmes Action Figure).
It is safe to say that this party was a hit! My friends still talk about it all of the time. I think it is the personal touch and involvement that really makes a party a lot of fun. Now all of my guests are asking me what party I am going to write next!