Yeehaw partner. Feel free to use a few of our ideas for your own murderous Old West fun ...
1 Wild West Saloon Party Table Decorations
Our murder mystery game was set in Deadstone Saloon - a place where cowboys could indulge in gambling, drinking, CanCan displays and dances with saloon girls. We, therefore, themed our dining room and our dining table around the saloon and, specifically, gambling.
1.1 Old West "Saloon" Table Centrepiece
For an ace-high table centrepiece, we focussed on the gambling that happened in many Old Western saloons. We took two different-sized square cardboard boxes and covered them in red wrapping paper. We then glued on white circles to match the six faces of a dice.
Tip: for added authenticity, refer to an actual dice to ensure you get the dice faces in the right order.
To separate these two boxes, we covered a small rectangular prism box with white paper and then glued on miniature playing cards at overlapping angles. A few miniature LED candles (for safety) brought this table centerpiece to life.
1.2 Saloon Table Decorations: Place Settings
To echo the theme of our gambling table centerpiece, we covered old placemats and coasters in plain red wrapping paper.
On the red-covered placemats, we then placed an A4 jumbo playing card. (We used A4 size Jumbo Giant Playing Cards sold by GrassVillage on Amazon.)
On the red-covered coasters, we cut out circles of white paper from a sheet of normal white printing paper. We then glued these circles onto the red-wrapped coasters in a pattern that mirrored one of the six faces of a dice.
To finish each place setting, we added a folded red napkin and used the gambling version of the place setting cards provided as part of the game's decoration pack. (These cards have hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades around the edges to represent the four playing card suits.)
1.3 Unusual Gambling-Themed Table Runner
We then used some more Jumbo playing cards to create an unusual table runner and added some Poker chips to the 4 corners of the table for an extra touch.
The green tablecloth was chosen to echo the color of Poker tables. (We used a new emerald green king-sized flat sheet.)
2 Other Saloon Dining Room Decorations
To echo the saloon gambling theme of the table, we then used the Jumbo playing cards to frame the arch between the dining room and lounge. We pinned the remaining cards in a fan shape onto a cork noticeboard for a simple but effective wall decor.
We then topped the card arch with a large piece of cardboard hand-painted with the word "Saloon". (We used an approximation of the Lawless font but any Wild Western font would be fine.)
The CanCan poster finished the blank wall space.
Tip: we made this (and other posters) more visually effective by covering a large piece of cardboard with red napkins and using this as a simple frame for the posters.
3 WildWest Bar Decorations
No Old West Saloon would be complete without a bar and so we decorated our sideboard and the wall behind it to fit with the bar theme.
We took a selection of liqueur bottles and wine bottles and covered them with the different themed Western and Cowboy bottle labels provided in the murder mystery kit.
We then took a gold and red piece of fabric (one we had bought for just £5 from a charity shop!) and hung it reverse-side to the front so that it had the feel of aged wallpaper. Over this we put a selection of the posters that come with the game's party pack. Some posters we "aged" by wiping them with a used tea bag and then scrumpling them slightly. Other posters were again made to stand out more by mounting them on a large piece of cardboard covered with red table napkins. The Deadstone Saloon sign was mounted on plyboard covered with red napkins (to match teh posters) and then framed in a gold frame we bought from a charity shop.
Tip: you can often get frames fairly cheaply from charity shops by buying a picture and then simply keeping the frame.
4 A Nod to Those Old West Cowboys
No western murder mystery would be complete without those rugged cowboys. In the same way, we felt our decor needed at least a nod to cowboy culture. And what speaks of cowboys more than the bandanas that they wore to shield them from the elements (cold in winter and sun in summer and wind and dust at all times)?
We bought a pack of 12 mixed-colour bandanas from REDSTAR via Amazon. As each bandana was approximately 22 inches square, we were able to arrange them to cover a large area of wall and make a stunning and unusual backdrop as guests first entered our dining room.
Tip: arrange the key bandanas on a table, reverse side up. Sellotape edges together. Add extra sellotape periodically at right-angles to the main sellotape bands in order to hold them in place.
5 A Small Gold Rush Scene
We've all heard of the California Gold Rush but prospectors also were drawn to other Western states in the hope of making their fortunes.
Our murder game features one of the "gold scams" that less-than-scrupulous tricksters played (or tried to play) on others.
To illustrate this, we covered two cardboard tubes with red table napkins - for visual consistency, we used the same napkins that we used to frame the different posters. We then wrote the word "Dynamite" on them in an Old West font. (We again used our approximation of the Lawless font.) We created a rough arrow out of cardboard and wrote "Gold Mine" in large letters on this. We bought a pack of miniature hessian bags from kuou on Amazon and filled these with scrunched-up tissue paper to simulate gold sacks. We printed out the "Deadstone Creek Gold Mine" shares certificate that we provide with the murder mystery game. Then we arranged these on our lounge coffee table for a simple but effective "mini scene".
6 Wild West Jail - With Wagon Wheel and Cactus
Finally, nothing symbolizes the lawlessness of the Old West more than a jail. See our How to Create a Wild West Jail post for detailed instructions on how we created this backdrop for our party space.
Deadstone Jail is a central part of the plotline of our mystery as Belle Hawkes' jailbreak happens before the shooting of Marshal Westernby and is referenced throughout the game. Therefore we felt justified in really going to town and creating an ace-high, all-fired jail, completed with a large painted backdrop and a cactus to represent the desert and a wagon wheel to represent all of those pioneers who made those journeys to the west.
Our Murder Mystery Party
If you want a rootin' tootin', ace-high, all-fired Western or Cowboy bash, why not check out our Murder in the Wild West game?