6 Christmas murder mystery party games

No festive season is ever complete unless you host a rambunctious Christmas murder mystery party!

Read on for everything you need to know to host a murder mystery for 4-60 players this festive season.

This is your chance to nestle next to the fireplace and cast suspicious glances at your loved ones. Who would commit such a heinous crime during such a peaceful time?

Just imagine what fun you might have:

  • Which mischievous soul tricked Santa into drinking the party punch?
  • Why is there elf blood all over the undelivered presents?
  • And which one of us is the dreaded Frosting Killer?

But perhaps you don’t want a Christmas theme, but something along the same lines: Chocolate, Ski Resort, or a Family Reunion? No worries! We’ve got you covered 🙂

Christmas Murder Mystery Party – 4 Things to Think About

The holidays are the perfect time to host a jolly Christmas themed murder mystery party. How can you make it a night to remember?

When choosing between the many murder mystery games on the market, the most difficult decision is usually picking the right theme. In this case, it’s a no-brainer: go with a holiday themed game. However, there are still multiple companies offering all sorts of different versions of Christmas murder mysteries: some for adults only, others for the whole family.

So, the first thing to consider is who will be playing. Form a mental picture of your guests, then ask yourself these questions:

1. Violence, murder, naughtiness, booze! Or…not?

Many Xmas murder mysteries contain adult themes: XXXMas, anyone? Probably not!

Nobody wants to spoil the festivities by throwing a wildly inappropriate party (like at a work year-end function, a reunion, or bring-your-children-to-work day).

Think carefully about the group you’ll be playing with. How old/mature are they? Is there sensitive material that might trigger somebody?

With this in mind, decide how gruesome and graphic the narrative should be, or if you should rather choose something clean and comedic.

2. Playing with the whole family?

Given that the theme and content is appropriate, kids from 13 and up should have no problem acting their roles, following the narrative, and drawing conclusions from the clues.

Younger kids, however, might have a hard time – not because they can’t follow, but because they might not be able to concentrate and remain absorbed for the entire duration of the game. Same thing goes for elderly participants.

If you’re unsure if a certain game is a good fi for your group, reach out to the company. Describe your situation and ask them if your game choice is a good fit, or if they can recommend another one, or even if they have an easier role for the kiddies.

But the little ones are not the only troublemakers! Some people (teens, perhaps, or a cantankerous grandpa) might be skeptical, or simply not want to play. If that happens, give them a minor role. In 9 out of 10 parties, this fence-sitter is drawn game the moment they see how much fun everyone else is having!

3. How much time do you have?

There are two things to consider here:

  1. How much time do you have to play the game?
  2. How much time do you have to prepare for the game?

A game with a shorter duration is a good choice if:

  • You’re playing with kids.
  • Your group is new to murder mystery parties.
  • You’re in a rush to get to tear open your Christmas presents!

Then there’s the prep time. Do you have weeks to lavish the place in decoration, or can you only budget a few hours to get everything ready?

Here are some tips to cut down on preparation, and have more time to play and hang out with your loved ones:

  • Make all the food the day before and reheat at game time. Or just order in!
  • Ask your guests to each bring a dish, eliminating the need for you to spend any time in the kitchen!
  • Decorate with the “less is more” approach: shuffle the furniture around, throw a festive tablecloth over the table, hang up some streamers or scatter some balloons. Done!
  • Don’t decorate at all. Use background music to set the mood!

Want to save even more time? At the end of this article, we’ve put together a table of recommended Christmas and holiday-themed murder mysteries, so you don’t have to sift through Santa’s entire bag of possible choices. Be sure to check it out!

4. What style of game should I buy?

Once you’ve thought about your guest list, think about the practicalities: do you want everyone sitting around a table, enjoying a casual narrative over steaming mugs of mulled wine and a scrumptious three-course meal? Or do you want to tire out the kiddies with a highly interactive, always on-your-feet approach?

Roughly speaking, murder mystery parties fall into these two categories:

  1. Murder mystery dinner party: All the guests sit close together around a table and discuss the game clues together as one big group. This style is more casual, more relaxed, best suited for smaller groups of 4-12 adults, and best enjoyed with a three (or more!) course meal.
  2. Mix ‘n mingle: Better suited to larger, more energetic groups. All the guests are encouraged to walk around and talk to everyone else one-on-one or in smaller subgroups. The game mechanics prompt you to ask questions, pose possibilities, make accusations, or openly interrogate individuals, usually in a big room or hall, taking short breaks here and there to swing by the overflowing buffet table to fill up on drinks and snacks.

Which style you pick should be determined by the size and makeup of your Christmas party guest list.

Want a handy shortcut? See our article on which murder mystery company to choose for a list of companies that sell games in both categories.

Or, if you’re pressed for time, see our trusty table of Christmas games at the end of this page.

No murder mystery party is complete without a mouth-watering meal. So, let’s consider that next.

Christmas Murder Mystery Party food and catering

Holidays become happy holidays when you’ve got delicious treats to nibble on. The same can be said when you host a Christmas themed murder mystery party – while choosing the right theme, narrative, and style of game is super important, so is perfectly pairing the game with a great menu!

To help you do just this, we’ve written an entire article on getting the food just right. Check it out here: crafting the perfect menu.

While there’s a lot to think about to get the menu just right, here’s a highly helpful starting point. Think about the game you’re planning on buying – consider if that game’s narrative, style, and mechanics are better suited to a buffet or a sit-down dinner.

Some traditional Christmas foods that match well with a sit-down murder mystery:

  • Honey and mustard glazed gammon, a South African favorite.
  • Sweet potato casserole. Yum! Popular in the US.
  • Any roast meat: turkey, ham, leg of lamb, beef – you name it! Why not do a Danish duck roast this year?
  • Mashed potatoes! Goes with just about anything.
  • Rolled pork belly with an apple and raisin stuffing. An Asian classic with a Christmas twist.
  • Big mean green salad, dotted with red cherry tomatoes.
  • Biryani with chicken or mutton, for a hint of India.
  • Sweet-roasted carrots. A great side for any main.
  • Perhaps roast potatoes, kale, and goose from Germany? Or a selection of sausages!
  • Apple pie, or pecan pie.
  • Fruitcake and fruit mince pies.
  • Obviously, “death-by-chocolate” cake!

For a multi-course meal, why not take inspiration from the Swedish Julbord tradition? A five plus course feast including three fish courses (think pickled herring and smoked salmon with boiled potatoes and crisp bread), then a course of cold meats including Christmas ham. The fifth and final course is the warm meats, a range of meatballs and fried sausages. If you still have room, there’s a cheese round and only then dessert: rice pudding with a hidden whole almond!

Here are some great, holiday-themed buffet foods:

  • The classic turkey – with a twist! Sliced turkey with a drizzle of cranberry sauce. Or why not try turkey roulades this time?
  • Roast beef tenderloin strips (or any other roast and carved meat).
  • Roast beef tenderloin strips (or any other roast and carved meat).
  • Charcuterie board.
  • Cheese platters with crackers (not Christmas crackers…although maybe).
  • Brie cheese on toast with pomegranate and apple.
  • Mixed nuts.
  • At the seaside this year? How about a seafood platter!
  • Gingerbread cookies with white frosting.
  • Various chocolate and peppermint combos: peppermint bark, mint-choc ice-cream, hot cocoa with peppermint.
  • Thumbprint cookies (perhaps the murderer left their mark in one)!

Foods that don’t works so well:

  • Stuffing. As yummy as it is, nobody will be able to stay sharp and perceptive when the post-stuffing sleepiness kicks in!
  • Prime rib (or any heavy food) with heaps of sauce or gravy. As already mentioned, the heavier the food, the harder it’s going to be to keep your eyes open. You also don’t want to leave gravy stains all over your game clues, your fancy costumes, and the pristine white decorations!
  • Excessively sugary treats (like candy canes) are a bad match if you want your kids to stay focused for a two hour game!

The next crucial practical decision is who will prepare the food, and how and when they’re going to prepare it. We can’t emphasize this point enough: no matter the game, or the group, it’s always better to have the food cooked and ready before you start playing.

If you’re cooking everything yourself, try making something the night before, so that on game day you can quickly and easily heat it up. It’s stressful to still be cooking during the game, and it breaks the flow of the story.

Of course, you don’t have to shoulder the entire burden yourself! You can always order food to be delivered, ask your guests to each bring a different dish, or even hire a professional chef to handle all your catering requirements.

The food helps set the mood, and great food greatly elevates your event. In much the same way, getting the decorations right can turn an already fun night into an unforgettable experience.

Pass me that bauble! All about decorations

Creating a festive atmosphere is easy! Check out these top decorating tips to host a vibey Christmas themed murder mystery party.

Start by thinking in terms of colors: reds, whites, and greens – soon you’ll have more ideas than you will know what to do with.

  • Green pine tree branches, or green stencils, or big green drapes.
  • Scatter red and white cushions all over the show.
  • Christmas crackers add tactile, festive fun.
  • Santa hats for everyone! And why not add a personal touch with surprise stockings packed with yummy dessert treats for each guest?
  • Perhaps you want to emphasize the color white: hang up long, billowing curtains, a white tablecloth, a white sofa cover. Now add the mayhem – vicious dashes of red paint, simulating a blood spatter that will contrast sharply against the snowy backdrop.
  • Tight budget? Bunches of red, white, and green party balloons are enough to bless even the drabbest of rooms with dashes of nostalgic goodness.
  • Some instrumental Christmas background music.

Did that get the ball rolling for your Christmas murder mystery? Good! Keep reading for our list of great game recommendations.

6 Christmas murder mystery party game recommendations

What if you don’t have time to read and review the dozens of Xmas games out there? No worries, we’ve already done that for you.

Please note: We love Murder Mystery Parties. Besides giving advice we also write and sell games. In this article we feature our own games from our company Mysterando. Please check out our game. This is how we help fund this site.

Simply scan this curated table to save heaps of time and host the perfect Christmas themed murder mystery party!

Bad Santa

Christopher Clause, the hermit of the Christmas Hollow mansion, is throwing a festive season party. The guests don’t all know or like each other, but it’s the grandest event of the year, so everyone’s going to be there! This is a mix and mingle style game. Suitable for ages 14+, does not contain any inappropriate content.10-20+From $53
Ho Ho Homicide

All the magical creatures in Santa’s North Pole workshop are putting in overtime to meet this year’s gift checklist – but a horrible murder puts a spanner in the works!
This game has variations for:
Adult Clean/Teen
All Female
6-20+From $55
Christmas Mashup

Ebenezer Scrooge hosts a holiday therapy group for pop culture icons to share, vent, and brag. But when the lights go out, a killer strikes! When everyone can see again, Scrooge is dead, a sprig of holly stuck into his heart! Who would do such a thing? It’s up to you to find out!4-20$35
The Winter Wonderland Murder

The Crosby’s (a famous football couple) are throwing their annual fundraiser. The theme? Winter Wonderland! The upper crust all eagerly await their invitations. Every year, Betty Crosby stages a “big reveal” where all the guests walk into the main room as she places the topmost decoration on the Christmas tree. But as the doors swing open this year, the surprise is a nasty one – Betty has been murdered!6-18From $40
The Night Before Christmas

December 24, 1948 – guests arrive at the infamous Evington-Browne Christmas Eve cocktail party, up in the snowy mountains. A blizzard traps the merrymakers together in the house, and they lose contact with the outside world. And that’s when things go from bad to worse: the valet is found dead. And there’s no chance for the killer to get away. It’s up to you to solve this icy, isolated case!12-15$30
The Dark Sin

Friends and relatives gather around the dinner table inside Petit Péché, a small town chocolaterie. They’re there to celebrate the owner’s book launch. But the sweet smell of melting nougat can’t cover up the fact that murderous thoughts bubble below the surface. Before the celebrations can even begin, the owner is found dead – poisoned by someone in this very room!4-9From $19

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Disclaimer: We haven’t played every single one of the games discussed. However, after being murder mystery party fans, players, and hosts for many years, we’ve gathered heaps of helpful advice and tips on how to play. In writing this article, we’ve conducted internet research to put together our top choices. We use affiliate links to Amazon, etc. This is how we help fund the site.