Zombies Made Me Do it

Around this time of year, my free time gets hijacked by zombies.

Every year, zombies force me to throw a Halloween party for my kids and their friends. This will be my 6th year hosting the festivities – and I need to do something totally different because this will be the 6th party for many of the guests. I don’t want them bored by the same old, same old. Nor do I want to anger the zombies–they are very touchy.

This sort of party takes a fair amount of planning and preparation, and as I had mentioned in last week’s post, I don’t have a lot of free time this year. That means, I don’t have a lot of time to plan and prep the party.

I’m leaning toward a Murder Mystery party. My general thoughts are to send an invitation to all the kids inviting them to a “dinner party,” but when they arrive, alas, the host is missing, feared dead, and the group must find the body plus figure out who the murderer is.

Along the lines of the popular board game, Clue, I want to have clues for the kids to help them find the body, nab the murderer, and figure out what weapon was used.

But I’m stuck on how to pull it off. Obviously, the murder victim is pretend, but should I assign the role of “murderer” to someone or have a pretend murderer as well? Or, maybe the host isn’t dead, merely missing, and I could have a live person hiding in the bushes somewhere?

There will be about 16 kids, ages 7-11. Other adults will be there to help out. They usually dress up, and I’m sure I could get them to “act” a particular role. I will have snacks and beverages and desserts, and I usually make them Halloween-themed. Here again though, I think I need to come up with new recipes.

I would love to hear any ideas you have. If you know of a fun game, neat food, scary decorations/crafts, or, most importantly, suggestions on how to pull off that murder mystery, please share!

Please forgive this post that has nothing at all to do with the craft of writing. The zombies grudgingly agreed that if I post about the party they will let me come back next time with a writing-focused post.

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48 thoughts on “Zombies Made Me Do it

  1. Sounds like a lot of fun for the party guests and lots of work for you. Here’s an idea – feel free to ignore it though if it’s not a good one 🙂

    Maybe you can have the clues lead to a box that when opened reveals a note from the hostess saying she isn’t dead, but made her escape and as a token of appreciation for trying to solve her ‘murder’ she leaves a prize pack or a gift behind. The person that finds the box wins the gift. You’ll have to let us know what you end up doing and how it goes. Have fun!!

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    • After having done this for 6 years, I have plenty of experience so that the work isn’t really work anymore. The first year, when I had no clue what I was doing, that was work. And stress. The only thing that’s getting tough now is amping up the scare factor. They’re at that between age when they think they want to be scared, but when they are scared, they freak out.

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  2. I went to a murder mystery evening and loved it, I would get the other adults involved as actors with roles to play and allow the children to question them but they can only answer yes or no and obviously the kids cannot ask ‘are you the killer’ lol

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    • Another good idea. I will have plenty of adults there to help out, so they’d probably have fun acting. I’m going to have to come up with some fun roles for them to play. Thanks, Paula!

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  3. I’ve heard these are fun parties. Unfortunately I have not taken part in one. As for clues. Having them use all their senses would be interesting. For example, have them reach into and dark box into a bowl of cold spaghetti ( resembles worms). Scent of a particular flower, (Lavender perfume). etc.

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    • Yes, a couple of years ago we did the body parts game. I blindfolded the kids and then they had to touch various “body parts” which was really food. Peeled grapes for eyeballs, overcooked hot dogs for fingers/toes, cornsilk for hair, etc. That was a lot of fun! They got so grossed out, haha, so awesome!

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  4. That’s a great idea for a Halloween party! My aunt puts on murder mysteries all the time. She assigns the role of murderer to one cast member then each cast member tells his story and at the end everyone votes on who the murderer could be. There could be prizes for whoever guesses the right one. Then maybe at the end have the victim jump out of the bushes or something and terrorize everyone. The zombies would like that.

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    • Wow, that’s an awesome idea. Some of the kids could probably come up with their own stories; the younger ones might need help. And I love the suggestion of jumping out of the bushes and terrorizing everyone. That’s right up my alley.

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  5. I think you should watch the old movie Clue a few times for ideas. We just watched it and loved every minute of the cheesiness.

    Warning–parts are inappropriate for zombies. There’s a bit of kissing and more kissing. We were thankful our zombies were in bed.

    As for the party itself, I’d have adults be the victim and the murderer, so all the kids can work together to solve the crime. And Martha Stewart has awesome Halloween recipes.

    I hope you let us know how the planning and the party itself turn out!

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    • Now that you mention it, I think I have seen that movie. Or maybe it’s the DVD version of the game?? Yes, I like Martha Stewart’s ideas, and I get the Halloween edition for her magazine. If only I had thousands of dollars and oodles of time. I could really put on a show!

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  6. Whoa! You really are super-woman to do this for 6 years running. I like the Clue idea (that game was so fun as a kid). Maybe have a pretend murderer. I would hate to show up as a kid and then be the murderer. Other than that, my only inspiration would be Pinterest. Type in your words and there are a lot of cool ideas out there.

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  7. I am the wrong person to ask about party planning. In fact, other than small birthday parties when my sons were young, I’ve not thrown any (that introvert thing again…). But kudos to you for doing something so cool! I’m sure the kids will love it. What a great idea. Good luck!

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  8. Wow! Can I come over?! I love this whole idea…the Clue/Murder Mystery thing will be great for this age and the parents can totally get involved with costumes and roles. I would do the missing host thing and have them jump out later on and scare the crap out of the kids. : )

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  9. Wow, I could never pull off such a party, but what a great idea! Of course, part of me is wondering where the other parents are—this will be six years running for you?! I wish I had some helpful advice, but I “suspect” you’ll solve this mystery!

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    • Do you mean you’re wondering why the other parents aren’t hosting the festivities? I don’t think anyone is quite as insane as I am. Not only that, I love parties and I love Halloween. I really get into it even without kids, so I’m a pretty good candidate.

      Haha — good pun. I can’t think of a comeback right now!

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      • That’s indeed what I was trying to say. 😉 It seemed they’re getting off easy when it comes to sharing the hosting load! But the important thing is that you enjoy doing it. I’m a basket case when we’re hosting any kind of get together!

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  10. We usually build things or destroy things or employ projectiles at our birthday parties. For Halloween, we invite everyone for pumpkin carving. Parents drink mimosas and everyone eats bagels. Not “scary” until we light all the pumpkins in the dark. your plan sounds fabulous, although it may take a lot of work to “write” the mystery. Good luck!

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  11. Sounds fab, Kate! One (actually, two) of my favorite parties ever were murder mystery parties. For the first, our host planned everything from one of those pre-fabricated mystery games (we were teens). We were told to dress up in period WWII costumes – I got to be the retired RAF colonel, which was a blast. The second, we had to go as our favorite murder or mystery-solvers, to help solve the case. My party went as the Scoobies (I had to be Daphne, blah), but we also had Mulder and Scully, Nick and Nora, even a Steed and Peel in attendance!

    As for the party itself, I think it’s probably best to make one of the adults – or the host – be the culprit, for exactly the reason you mention: an invited child would probably feel disappointed to realize they’re the murderer behind everything. Unless one of your own children has a gift for the dramatic, in which case, that might be fun! Your kids sound like they’re much more into the scary jumps than mine, which makes it loads more fun. (One girl is game for anything, brave little thing, but the other gets scared very easily, so that does not make for a fun evening.) I think having the parents there to help out – or to be clue-givers – is a great idea.

    Good luck! And, I agree: I think there needs to be a follow-up post on how it goes!

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    • The murder mystery parties you describe sound awesome. I’d be annoyed if I had to be Daphne, too. 🙂 I bet I can get one of the adults to be the murderer, although both my kids are pretty dramatic. They might like that kind of attention.

      Yes, I’ll be sure to follow up with how it all went down, perhaps even a picture or two!

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  12. I like Arlene’s idea of the hostess being alive but still needs to be found.

    Something I’ve made this time of year that’s always a hit is “dirt cake”. Kids and adults go crazy over it. You can google the recipe, but basically it’s an Oreo-based crust, with a pudding type filling then you top it with gummy worms, rock candy, etc. You can get as creative as you like.

    Have fun!!

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  13. You are such a great mom. My parents never considered theme parties for us when we were kids. Our birthday parties began with a cake, after which the adults played “Empty the Bottle” and the kids got scarce.

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    • Hi Cayman,

      Thanks, that’s a nice thing to say. I enjoy spending time with my kids, so it’s easy to do things like the Halloween party. Your parents missed out on a great opportunity. Unfortunately, a lot of parents don’t realize how easy it is to do stuff with kids, nor how much they get out of it themselves. Luckily, we don’t have to continue those bad cycles.

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      • Bahstan, I don’t say nice things unless they’re true. Saying nice things annoys me, truth be told. You, are a great mom. And yes, the bad cycles can be broken. It happened on my turn. My folks weren’t horrible people. They were creatures of a different time, and they lived it fully. If I could go back and change things on that count? I wouldn’t. Because I wouldn’t be the person I am now, and I don’t want to be any other person than the one I am right now.
        Keep on keeping mama.

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  14. I’ve always wanted to attended a murder mystery party, they sound like such fun. It’s sounds as though you’re an old pro at this, no doubt it will be great fun for all.

    When I was a kid, there was a house in the neighborhood that always gave out the best candy bars…the oversized candy bars to the first 50 kids. They always went above and beyond with their decorating. One year, they somehow got their hands on a casket and you had to reach into the casket to get your candy. There was a body inside, but it was one of their college age sons who grabbed your arm when you reached inside..scared me to death!

    Have a great time! I’ll look forward to some pictures.

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    • Oh, wow, a casket! The things I could do with a casket… having their son hide inside is such an awesome idea. I don’t know if I’m an old pro, kids can make it tricky from year to year because their likes and dislikes change so much. My worry is that the kids are at an age where they think they want to be scared, but then really don’t when it comes down to it. My sister (who has no kids) is all gung-ho to amp up the scare factor. I may have more trouble with her than with all the 9-year-olds!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Have a great day!

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  15. Kate, this sounds like so much fun! I let my kids write their own murders, but we got started using those murder mysteries in a box. I’ve seen them for up to 12 participants, but you might be able to find one for more. Anything with costumes, and you could add non-essential roles for kids who don’t mind being a butler or a dotty aunt. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

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