60s Murder Mystery Cocktail Party Guide


Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you're all having a great start to your 2018! As last year was coming to a close, I was thinking about some of the best parts about 2017 and one day stood out in particular to me, my 25th Birthday Party! It took place way way back in May, but I never got a chance to write up a post about my epic birthday bash until now (nothing like those New Years Resolutions to kick you into overdrive!). Since 25 is a bit of a milestone birthday (I mean a quarter of a century is kind of a big deal!!), I decided to go all out on my birthday with the help of my boyfriend Daniel. We rented a super cool midcentury airbnb and got started planning a 1960s themed Murder Mystery Party that was one for the books! Here were the keys to our success.

1. The Murder Mystery

While I was busy planning the theme, decor, and refreshments for the party, my uber-talented boyfriend, Daniel, was fully responsible for the actual story and logistics of the murder mystery portion of the event. All I knew was that I wanted people to have characters and I wanted them to be searching for clues and information that could lead to solving a mystery. So this was the general synopsis of how he ran the show:

  • Our story took place in 1961 and Daniel's character was a famous film director hosting a cocktail party with his wife at their home to celebrate the success of his newest film with the cast and crew. All of the guests were somehow involved in the industry in one way or another.
  • All of our guests were given an introduction packet about a week prior to the event. This packet included an "invitation" to the mock party, an intro describing the background of the story and the time period, an instructions page explaining how the murder mystery would happen, a guest list with a brief synopsis of each character, and a page-long description of each individual's character (that only they could read). 
  • When guests arrived at the party they were greeted with a name tag, a notebook for keeping track of clues, and a personalized document with their character's first objectives (what info they needed to figure out or keep hidden). Everyone was then sent out to investigate one another.

  • Halfway through the evening, the lights went out and flashed back on, and we all found one of our guests laying on the floor "dead" (Daniel had informed them that their character was the one who died and that they would need to play dead once the lights went out).
  • Guests were now given a second personalized document with their next objectives, and at this point the "killer" was informed that they were in fact the killer. Guests were sent out again to do some digging!
  • Daniel had also left several physical clues around the house (letters, props, etc.) that guests could find to help them come to a conclusion on who they thought was guilty.
  • Once about an hour had gone by, Daniel passed out scrap paper for everyone to write down their accusation. Once he received everyones guesses he read us the remainder of his story with a description of just how the killer pulled off the crime and declared who played the killer. The mystery was an absolute success! We actually had about 4 of the 25 guests guess correctly!

2. The Bites and Libations

The 1960s were a time clouded with a general haze of cigarette smoke and the scent of Vienna sausage. If something wasn't wrapped in bacon or heavily dipped in a cheese ball, it didn't belong on the appetizer table. We wanted to incorporate a few of the characteristic 60s hors d'oevres into our party, while still staying familiar enough for our Millennial guests to nosh while they sleuthed. Here are a few of the snacks, treats, and cocktails that we set out for guests to enjoy throughout the party:

  • Veggies & dip (carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower)
  • Potato chips
  • Cheese fondue with bread and sausage to dip
  • Trader Joe's Parmesan Pastry Puffs
  • Cream puffs with hot fudge dip
  • Fruit (pineapple & blackberries)
  • Jello Shots -- I used this recipe to mimic the look of the classic broken glass jello desserts that were popular in the 1960s
  • Whiskey Sour Punch -- this is the recipe that we used for our delicious cocktails

3. The DIY Photo Booth

Since our guests were impeccably dressed (as you will see below!) for the occasion, we wanted to set up some kind of backdrop for photos that would tie into our midcentury theme. I found this geometric backdrop on Pinterest that I used as inspiration for our photo booth. My friend Ashlee (from Bourbon & Rose) was a HUGE help in getting this backdrop tacked up on the wall as guests were arriving so that I had time to finish getting ready (THANKS ASH!). This backdrop was made out of several different colored 12" x 12" scrapbook paper sheets folded in half and taped onto the wall. The photo booth was a hit and made for some really epic instagram pics!


4. The Small Details

I always find with every party, themed or otherwise, that the small details are what people appreciate and remember the most. And what better way to add the extra mid-century flare than through the small finishing touches? The drink stirrers below were actually a super simple DIY project that I made using bamboo skewers, hot glue, and pom pom balls. They definitely added to the retro starburst design of the party. The rest of the party supplies (cocktail napkins, picks, candy, name tags, etc) I found on Amazon, and I have linked the items below if you're interested in where to buy them!




1. Retro Sputnik Cocktail Napkins // AMAZON
2. Robins Egg Blue Napkins // AMAZON
3. Tulip End Cocktail Picks // AMAZON
4. Candy Cigarettes // AMAZON
5. Clear Name Badges // AMAZON

5. The Guests

The number one most important factor in the success of a party are, of course, the guests! And my friends did NOT disappoint. Everyone came dressed in 60s attire, channeling their inner Don Drapers and Joan Holloways. We all had such a blast playing our characters and transforming to a different decade for the evening. Here are some of my favorite shots from the party below. It was a birthday that I will never forget!

I know this post is very belated, but thanks again to all my friends who enthusiastically came out to celebrate my birthday and a HUGE thank you to Daniel for writing me the epic Murder Mystery birthday party that was so beyond what I even imagined. I hope this post gives you a few ideas if you have been wanting to throw a murder mystery party or a 60s cocktail party of your own in the future. Cheers! - Rachael