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How To Plan a Table Setting for a Murder Mystery Party.

Welcome! Madame Cluedefti, seer of all things murder mystery at your service!  I will use my powers to tell you exactly how to do a table setting for a murder mystery party.

Dining Room Layout
Dining Room Layout

Table Layout
Table Layout

When guests are being performed to while dining, table layout is crucial because it determines the mood for the entire evening. This is the space where your guests will be the majority of the night. Taking the time to plan your seating, will make all the difference!

Plan Your Placement

The first and perhaps most important detail in setting up your tables is their place in the room.  The best arrangement is simple rows and columns; like a checkerboard.  Recite “can all patrons see and hear” like a mantra when blueprinting the layout.  They came to be amazed, not count the amount of bobby-pins their grandmother uses to hold up her bun! With all eyes focused on the stage, guests can fully immerse themselves in the murder mystery party. Getting involved is fun! It keeps their attention anchored, instead of drifting off and becoming a distraction to other audience members.  Of course all hosts want their invites to feel like part of the show. So does the entertainment crew. By keeping the orientation similar to a checkerboard, you allow all audience members to share the same amount of attention from the actors.  But Beware! I also foresee some problems!

Table Layout2
Common table layout mistakes

Unusual configurations like a horseshoe, semi-circle or sectional seating can leave some audience members with poor viewing angles. This will lead to certain areas being neglected.  Remember that this is YOUR event, not the wait staff’s or facilities'.  Sometimes, the establishment may want to organize the tables differently because it might be easier for them, but your guests should always come first.

Ask about their dance floor. I have been known to sway my hips but this room accessory can cause major headaches if overlooked.   Avoid having a wide open dance floor to come between your patrons and the show, this will negatively impact your event.  If after dinner you plan to dance the night away, remember one thing; the show is your primary entertainment. Folks will determine their enjoyment during dinner, if they can’t see or hear the murder mystery they will not stick around for dancing. Find out if tables are allowed on the dance floor, this way you do not need to work around it, which may lead to an awkward table arrangement.   Sometimes, banquet facilities do not like chairs on their dance area for fear of scuffing them.  If seating is NOT allowed on the surface and they cannot remove it, remember our mantra; can everyone see and hear?   Honestly, it is best to know this before booking your facility.  If they are not going to work with you, find someone else that will.

Whenever possible, try to avoid sitting in “the round”. This may be present if the dance floor is in the center of the room and the tables are positioned around it. This causes the entertainment to be in the center of the formation, resulting in many audience members watching the actors back all night. The team will try to accommodate as best as possible, but it may not always be feasible. 

If the room is not at maximum capacity, plan to leave certain tables empty that may present a problem for viewing.  Selling out a show is always great but if the result is certain people sitting in tables behind a pillar or in a far off corner, maybe not selling out is the best option.  Take some care to ensure there is enough space for attendees to comfortably move about the venue.  Selling the extra ten tickets may seem like a great idea, but if it will cause your guests to be cramped and miserable during the show, believe me it’s not worth it. Especially if there are handicap guests or other special needs that need certain accommodation or aisle space. Keep the show and guests the first priority, always. The actors will be pacing the aisles, weaving in-between and interacting with your guests during the murder mystery event, so allow them some room to do so.

The Place Settings

Now, knowing you and your attention to detail you have not only precisely planned the room layout, but the decorations as well! Well let’s have a look!

What’s our mantra again? Say it with me! “CAN EVERYONE SEE AND HEAR...” yes! Large centerpieces are beautiful but if directly in the line of sight, they will prevent guests from seeing the show. Keep them low and simple so guests can talk to one another and have enough space to solve the mystery!   This also means that balloons should be very high and out of the way.  In order to crack the case, guest’s will fill out clue sheets with pencils.  Remember that these items will also be on the table when the guests arrive.  If color scheme is important, talk to the Murder Mystery Company about some options before the event.   You might also want to include some party favors on the tables to add some panache;  a plastic Sherlock Holmes pipe, a crime kit, or some silly toy weapons really garnish the excitement!

Candlelight dinner
Candlelight dinner

Everything is just right!

Ahh!  Now the night has come!  You can imagine yourself seated at your table. The hors d’oeuvre melt in your guests mouths as they wash them down with wine.  The lights are softly dimmed and the candles on your table flicker with anticipation!  Your guests are whispering with excitement as the stage lights slowly fade up and the Murder Mystery begins!  It’s showtime!

Please check out Riddlesbrood’s “Table Layout” Pinterest Board, on the left for visual aid when planning the perfect table arrangement. You can find all their boards in the left column. Remember, RTC knows their artistry, if you have any questions, please reach out to them directly at 866-276-6399 for table layout and other crucial ingredients for the perfect murder mystery party recipe.  For more tips on how to do a table setting for a murder mystery party, visit their  Murder Mystery Tips

Thank you, please come again!



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