Real Parties: A Very 80s Murder Mystery High School Reunion

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A couple months ago (yes, I got sidetracked with all the holiday stuff), my friend's daughter decided that she wanted to have an 80s themed murder mystery for her birthday party, and asked if I could help plan the event.  Um, yes please!  

We found the perfect resource at Night of Mystery Party Games, an online store that has an extensive collection of pre-made murder mystery packages all written up.  They even had the perfect package set at a high school class of 1984 20th reunion, and had a clean/teen version that was perfect for our event.  We still needed to tweak it a bit for our youngest guests, but it was SO nice not having to worry about creating the entire mystery from scratch.

I knew I wanted to set up the house just like a high school gymnasium--cheesy streamers, stars, balloons, the whole deal.  This made decorating for the party very easy at my local party store!

I really wanted to evoke the feeling of going to a high school reunion (something I've never done myself, but I've certainly seen on TV and movies!).  And that meant a sign in desk with embarrasing photos of the guests from back in the big-hair-day.

I started by photoshopping pictures of each guest on photos of seriously awful and iconic 80s hair.  That's my daughter above.  Scarily enough, I kind of think she rocks it.

Bwahahahahah.  I think I got way more enjoyment out of this than the kids did, but I don't care.  It was totally worth it.

The guests were greeted at the door with a sign in table and found their character nametags with the doctored photos.

And yes, we required everyone to wear them!  

The birthday girl, Kirsten!

I can't decide if the nametags or the disco ball pinata was my favorite project of the party.

Both were corny, fun, and totally worth the effort.

The birthday girl had recently been on a trip to New York, so requested that her party be set in NYC.  Homemade pretzels were a natural choice for a tasty treat.

A bowl of punch was compulsory, of course.  You can't have an 80s high school party without a bowl of punch to "spike."  (No, of course it wasn't really spiked.)

Pictures of the guests were printed and placed in 8x10 frames from the dollar store.  It was an incredibly inexpensive way to decorate on-theme.

The birthday girl designated the school colors as black, white, and red, so I incorporated those colors in the cupcakes.  Simple paper pennants weren't edible, but were a seriously easy and perfect cupcake topper mixed in with the gumpaste diplomas and pom poms.

Chocolate covered Oreos are always a hit--especially when embellished with sparkling disco dust!

Chocolate covered popcorn is a tasty, inexpensive, bulky treat perfect for filling up those large apothecary jars.

The birthday girl's dad made an incredible, inexpensive dance floor for the center of the room using just cardboard and the most inexpensive peel-and-stick vinyl floor tiles he could find at Home Depot.  It was absolutely perfect under the disco ball piñata and got a lot of use later that evening!

But the stars of the evening were definitely our young guests, who threw themselves into character, and had an absolutely magnificent time acting out their parts and figuring out the mystery.

Murder most foul!

At the end of the evening, each guest was presented with a favor that fit perfectly with our high school theme.  I found these cute composition notebooks and pencils at my local dollar store.  How perfect!  I especially like how Lisa-Frank and 80s the pencils looked.  

And the "Thanks from Babcock High" tags were simple enough to make even with my extremely limited graphics skills.  I found a free clip art of a bobcat (try saying "Babcock High Bobcats five times fast!) and just added a bit of text.  Cut into rectangles, the tags were fast and easy, and a perfect finishing touch.

Huge thanks to Kirsten, the birthday girl with the grand idea, Naomi, her amazing mom who worked so hard to make this party happen, and all the kids who so enthusiastically participated in the party and made it absolutely perfect!  

If you haven't tried hosting a murder mystery party, I heartily recommend it, for young and old, outgoing and introverted alike.  You'd be surprised how much even the shyest of guests enjoy them!

Nicole Wills, creator of Tikkido

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