Whichever option you go for, don't forget to make full use of the printouts in the game's decoration pack. See how to use these printouts in an eye-catching way.
Mix and Match Pirate, Nautical and Caribbean Decorations
This can be the cheapest and easiest option. Gather together any piratical, nautical, Caribbean, "treasure", antique and wooden items that could fit with the mystery game's tavern (called "Sea Dog Treasure Tavern") in the fictional Caribbean haven of Port Plunder. Then decide how to best group these items. (It is sometimes better to group items together into a single impressive display than to scatter them across larger areas.)
"Pirates Only" sign written on aged wooden planks; reed fencing over fireplace; decorative birds, shells and fishing nets add a Caribbean touch.
Items that fall into this mix-and-match decor:
1 Pirate-themed accessories: skulls, crossbones, pirate costumes, tricorn hats, hook, wooden leg, eyepatches, cutlasses, Jolly Roger flag, rum bottles, cannon and cannon balls, striped cloth.
2 Skeletons and skulls - optionally dress these in pirate costumes or use accessories such as an eye patch or cutlass; optional red paint splatters to represent blood.
3 Nautical items: netting (different online party suppliers sell decorative fish nets in different colors), rope, storm lamp, toy or decorative fish, crabs and mermaids, Kraken, toy boats, ship's wheel, compass, sea shells, anchor, lifebelt, telescope, ships' bells, old maps, globe of earth, sand timer.
4 Caribbean or tropical items: palms, palm leaves, toy or paper honeycomb or inflatable parrots and tropical birds, coconut shells, palm leaf bowls or plates, tropical fruit, materials or wallpaper with a tropical print, materials with vivid Caribbean colours (think bright oranges, turquoises, blues, yellows, greens and pinks).
5 Treasure items: treasure chest or vintage suitcase or trunk, old coins, chocolate coins and ingots covered in gold paper, jewelry, gold or silver-plated cups, plates, candlesticks or other ornaments, toy crown, old maps or scrolls, mini hessian bags to hold "treasure".
7 Wooden items: crates, pallets, used wine or whiskey barrels, bowls, plates, serving utensils, reed or bamboo screens. (Note that sites such as Facebook Messenger are a useful resource as they sometimes have adverts for locals wishing to give away pallets and oddments of wood.)
8 Old "style" items such as burlap or hessian cloth. Note that unbleached cotton twill dustsheets are less expensive than hessian and can cover a large area. They are ideal for covering up modern furniture.
9 Printouts given with our game's party decoration pack.
Create an Arrgh-mazing Party Entrance
Impressive party entrance: pirate skeleton sits atop cardboard boxes that are wrapped in paper and aged using teabags; "Dead Men Drink No Rum" sign is written on cardboard that is covered in red napkins; reed fence is in background.
Your party entrance can set the mood for your evening even before the guests enter. A few ideas:
10 Create an eye-catching entrance with a mix of upturned pallets and reed or bamboo fencing. Add some cardboard boxes covered with the signs from our party pack and seat a skeleton dressed in pirate rags atop one. Add a catchy slogan on a separate piece of cardboard. (We used a black marker pen to write "Dead Men Drink No Rum" on cardboard covered in red cloth.) Then simply add a few accessories such as a tankard or rope and create a party entrance your guests will remember.
11 Have a skeleton sitting on a wall or flower tub leading to the entrance. Add a few striped oddments of clothes - or a colourful sash or a tricorn hat. Optionally add a skeletal bird or monkey. Get creative and give your skeleton a wooden leg, a hook hand or some blood stains on the clothes. Team this with an "Enter if you Dare" sign.
12 Have a skeleton dressed in pirate's rags and an eyepatch suspended from a hook or bracket. Write a slogan such as "Dead Men Tell No Tales" on cardboard and attach to the skeleton's wrists with cotton thread. Optionally, for an extra gruesome effect, have the skeleton hanging from a rope noose. Or recreate the chains used to hang the bodies of convicted pirates by using strips of black cards. (Glue the start and end pieces of one strip together to create the first chain. Then thread a second strip of card into this chain and glue the ends together. Repeat until you have the desired length of the chain.)
13 Create a wooden walkway leading from the "sea" to your home. Use old planks. (We saw some weathered wooden deck squares being given away on Facebook Messenger; there were also wooden pallets being given away.) Add blue sheets or blue plastic to simulate water. Optionally add a few shark fins cut out of cardboard or plywood and then painted grey. Optionally add ropes down the side of your wooden walkway.
14 Create a "Pirates Only" sign - and suspend a cardboard skull and crossbones from this! Add an eyepatch, glass eye, tricorn hat or striped bandana to the skull. Or have a mini skeleton holding the sign.
15 Create a sign to direct guests to places in the murder mystery game.
Option 1: take some rough pieces of wood (old planks, reclaimed wood or sections of a wooden pallet) and saw them into the required size. Use paint or a permanent marker pen to write on some of the places referenced in the game: Port Plunder, Davy Jones' Locker, Sea Dog Treasure Tavern, Mermaid Bay, Mangrove Swamp, Doom Raider sloop, The Scurvy Skull sloop. Nail to a post and use to set the scene as your guests arrive.
Option 2: create a similar signpost to the one above only use cardboard cut in the shape of arrows rather than actual wood.
Option 3: use the signs given in the mystery game decoration pack. Cut round the sign arrows given in the decoration pack and stick them onto cardboard.
16 Suspend the "Pirates Only - Enter if You Dare" sign above your door entrance.
17 Suspend the "Sea Dog Treasure Tavern" sign above your door entrance. Then arrange wooden boxes, crates and barrels nearby. Alternatively, cover cardboard boxes with brown paper (to remove modern brand names) and then stick on the crate labels provided in the party decoration pack. Finally, drape with ropes or nets.
18 Print out the larger version of the Sea Dog Treasure Tavern sign provided with the game. Simulate an old rickety tavern sign by cutting across the three horizontal plank lines" given on the sign. Glue each third of the sign onto a piece of cardboard; optionally use a used teabag to slightly distress the printout. Then use cotton or string to attach the middle third to the top third and the bottom third to the middle third; allow the bottom third to sink down at one corner. Then thread string through two holes in the top third and hang from a picture hook.
19 Use cardboard or plywood to create gravestones; write on them the character names of those coming to your murder mystery. Add a skull and crossbones.
20 Walk the plank: have a plank (or planks) leading to your home or garden entrance. Use the "Visit Davy Jones' Locker" sign from the party decoration pack.
Create a Drinks Bar Fit for Your Buccaneer Guests
Impressive drinks' bar made out of a children's pirate ship; "Yo Ho Ho I Want Rum" sign is written on a large piece of cardboard covered with part of a white sheet.
21 Have a skeleton pirate "serve" drinks out of a pirate boat! Drape the black skull and crossbones flag from the ship's masthead and add the odd accessory such as a bowl of tropical fruit and any skulls or toy cutlasses you have. Use a marker pen and a large piece of cardboard to create a sign such as "Yo Ho Ho I Need Some Rum". (We used a children's outdoor pirate ship that we bought second-hand and then cut some tatters into a black skull and crossbones flag.)
22 Use a selection of bottles of interesting shapes and sizes; add the drinks labels supplied with the game's decoration pack. Arrange bottles on top of a reclaimed wooden barrel (former wine or whiskey barrels are ideal) for an unusual bar corner.
23 Add some wooden planks (or an old wooden door) across the top of two barrels to form a bar. Add sails or a jolly roger flag behind the bar area.
24 Create a drinks' corner on your sideboard - arrange the drink bottles (with labels from the game's decoration pack) together with:
rustic items such as tankards, goblets, candlesticks, miniature wooden barrels, wooden fruit bowl, earthenware jars
nautical items such as sea shells, miniature ship's wheel, storm lamp, fish netting, rope, compass
pirate items such as a skull with an eyepatch, a cutlass or a tricorn hat
25 Taverns also need drink! (And lots of it.) Cover cardboard boxes in brown paper and then stencil on words such as rum, whisky and grog - or add the drink crate labels provided with the game's decoration pack. (It is best to use the distressed version of the crate labels so that they visually blend with the cardboard.) Use wet tea bags or coffee grounds to age the brown paper covering the cardboard boxes; cover with (torn) fish netting for a nautical feel. (Or use jute garden netting.)
26 Fill an antique chest, old wooden box or a special party treasure chest with bottles of drink instead of treasure. Arrange skulls, crossbones, cutlasses, nautical items, and gold-wrapped chocolate coins around this box.
Dining Table or Buffet Table Decorations - 5 Different Ideas for a Pirate Murder Mystery
Pirate Treasure Table Decoration Ideas
One-eyed Shark's place mat sits atop a table mat covered with a red paper napkin; a separate red cloth napkin is folded into a boat shape; treasure chest is filled with costume jewellry.
27 Have a treasure chest as your table centerpiece. Use an antique chest or wooden chest - or buy a treasure chest from an online party supplier. (We bought a second-hand treasure chest via Facebook Messenger.) Have a selection of necklaces, brooches, rings, coins, gold-covered chocolate coins, gold-covered ingot-shaped chocolate bars, colored pieces of glass, medals, gold or silver plated cups, gold candlesticks, fake crowns, small silver trays and other valuable-looking items visible. Have coins or necklaces spill onto the table. (We bought a pearl string chain garland from Amazon.)
Choose whether to extend the centerpiece upwards by having a skeleton dressed in pirate clothes sitting on top of the half-closed treasure chest. You can add more vertical interest by suspending some decorative tropical birds from the ceiling (or ceiling light arms if safe) above the skeleton and chest. This can create a stunning focal point for your table; the downside is that a tall centerpiece can limit conversation between your guests. For our own party, we chose to have a treasure chest just partially propped open so that guests could talk more freely to each other. We then created a strong focal point with a "Dead Men Tell No Tales" backdrop to the table.
Tip: if you have a deep chest, then fill the base with a filler such as rolled-up newspaper or the type of wood wool that comes in hampers. Optionally top the filler with lace, netting or creepy cloth to reduce the visibility of the filler.
28 Make use of the game's treasure map extras - for example, the treasure map place mats (one per character), place cards, menu cards and editable food labels. We chose to cut a wavy edge around each map place setting - but you could add an extra edge of realism by singeing the edges. (Please follow all safety precautions.)
29 For each guest, provide a miniature treasure chest party favor box, a miniature burlap loot sack or a miniature gold-bar favor box. Fill with chocolates or chocolate-covered coins for your guests to enjoy with coffee.
30 Provide a central goblet or a miniature treasure chest filled with chocolates to serve with coffee; for extra effect, choose gold-wrapped chocolates, gold-wrapped chocolate coins or gold-wrapped chocolate ingot-bars.
31 Scatter gold-wrapped chocolate coins and ingot bars across the table.
32 Buy or make a treasure map tablecloth. Alternatively, use a cotton canvas or burlap tablecloth and mix with treasure map plates, cups or napkins. Note that a new unbleached cotton dust sheet can give an ideal neutral table covering.
33 Buy a pearl string chain garland (available from different party suppliers). Hang strings of pearls from the ceiling lights (if safe) or drape across different table decorations. (We used them to add to the costume jewelry in our treasure chest centerpiece.)
34 Optionally choose food that reflects this treasure theme - see pirate party food ideas for a superb chocolate-covered treasure chest cake and also a treasure island cheesecake.
Skulls and Skeletons for Your Dining Table
Spooky table settings. Left = skeleton dressed in pirate rags sits in an empty chair at the table. Right = skull and miniature skeleton adorn a dining table.
The popularity of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies has made skulls and skeletons popular for party decorations.
35 Add a spooky touch to your dining table by having a skeleton sitting in the chair of one of your guests - or have the skeleton of Billy Blood (the game's murder victim) be an extra guest at your meal. Optionally have a sign such as "I be Billy Blood - which stinking bilge rat killed me?"
36 Haveskulls and miniature skeletons sitting atop fruit bowls, treasure chests, etc. Add eyepatches, hooks and sashes as you wish.
Pirate Ship Table Decoration Ideas
Homemade skull and crossbones flag makes an impressive backdrop to the dining table; words were painted on a black sheet and the edges were then cut and frayed.
37 Hang a large black skull and crossbones flag at the end of your table to create a dramatic backdrop; this can be hung from the wall or ceiling as you wish. Cut tears in the material to giver a tattered look.
39 Buy skull and crossbones toothpick cocktail sticks and insert these into the top of the boat-shaped napkins to form a "flag". Alternatively, use to decorate food dishes.
40 Drape decorative fish nets over the tablecloth. (Different online party stores sell these in a variety of colors.)
41 Create a mock sail using a tall wooden pole or post for the mast and 2-3 smaller wooden or metal poles for the booms. (Curtain poles are possible for the booms.) Decide where you wish the sails to be hung and use rope to tightly lash the booms to the mast. Use a Christmas tree holder or a garden umbrella stand to hold the mast vertically upright. Add sails using your choice of materials. Possible options are flat sheets (black, white, red or cream), striped red and white or black and white material and cotton dust sheets. Top with the iconic skull and crossbones flag - or else secure a cardboard skull and crossbones to the top of the mast.
42 Drape sheets from the center of the ceiling outwards so that they form the effect of billowing sails. Optionally add tears to the sheets. Unbleached cotton twill dust sheets look similar to sails and are inexpensive; flat self-colored sheets could also be used.
Caribbean or Tropical-Themed Table Decorations
Simple but effective tropical table centrepiece - tropical fruit arranged on a wooden board with candles and a treasure chest behind. Decorative bird perched atop the pineapple.
43 Mix and match vibrant greens, yellows, oranges or turquoises for the tablecloth, table runner, table mats and napkins; optionally incorporate natural fabrics such as bamboo table mats, bamboo table runner, a burlap tablecloth or a raffia table skirt.
44 Use wooden, bamboo, coconut shell or palm leaf bowls and serving utensils. These can be bought from different online suppliers.
45 Use a mix or natural or artificial palm or banana leaves to create a centerpiece, table runner or table mats. (If buying natural leaves online, I would suggest checking the supplier's reviews to ensure that you receive fresh green leaves rather than ones that are turning brown.)
46 Use coconut shell candles.
Caribbean Table Centerpiece
47 Create a table centerpiece or a table runner incorporating tropical fruit such as pineapples, coconuts, watermelons, papaya, mangos and plantains. (This is very economical as you can eat the fruit later!) Add in natural raffia or bamboo sticks.
48 Spray a pineapple or three with gold paint and add to the centerpiece.
49 Hollow out the top of a pineapple and fill with colorful flowers for an unusual tropical-themed vase.
50 Optionally extend your centerpiece upwards by hanging decorative tropical birds from the ceiling or light arms (if safe) - or use these birds to perch colorfully on the centerpiece. (You can buy honeycomb paper birds, foam birds or inflatable birds from different party suppliers. We used foam birds but could have bought larger inflatable birds for a cheaper price.)
51 Wrap your vase with bamboo sticks or twigs. Fill with real or artificial colorful flowers and leaves such as monstera or palm. If you cannot get fresh leaves, you could buy artificial ones - or buy dried palm leaves.
Sea or Kraken-Themed Table Decoration Ideas
The murder mystery game features the hunt for a treasure map leading to the Kraken's Crown so that the wearer can summon this fearsome sea monster to sink any ship on any sea or ocean in the world.
52 Create a table runner suggesting waves on the ocean or seas. Have a base blue table runner using blue material, tissue paper, wrapping paper or card. Over the top of this, scrumple a roll of blue or turquoise organza to represent waves. Optionally add-in ruffles of blue or turquoise tissue paper or tuille.
53 Optionally use the same material that you have used to create the table runner to create place settings. If you have a wooden table and are serving hot food, then, for heatproofing, it might be best to cover old placemats with the base blue material and then to have a swathe of organza over this.
54 Adorn this table runner with sea shells, fake fish, sharks or crabs, driftwood or sea stones.
55 Put a miniature boat or boats across the top of this table runner. Add miniature Jolly Roger flags to indicate that these are pirate boats. Optionally include mermaids.
56 Create your own miniature pirate sloops to place on the waves. Shape a piece of wood approximately one inch thick into a boat shape using a jigsaw; sand if required. To create the sloop mast, drill a hole in the base that is the right size for a wooden dowel and then insert the dowel into the hole; glue it into place if necessary for stability. Cut a piece or pieces of thick card into the required size for sails; if using a thinner card, glue two pieces together. Cut a hole in the top and bottom of the card so that they can be threaded through the wooden dowel to form a curved shape. Glue in place or use string or tread to hold in place. Add a top skull and crossbones flag.
57 Cut shark fin shapes out of cardboard and paint grey or else cover with silver foil and add these into the central table runner waves. (For stability, you may first need to attach each fin to a flat base of cardboard using glue or a toothpick. In which case, paint or cover the base and the toothpick so that they blend in.)
58 Use a sea or ocean-based tablecloth. Alternatively, suspend a sea-themed tablecloth or wall tapestry from a wall near the table to create a feature wall.
59 Cover areas of your table with decorative fish netting. (Different online party stores sell fish netting in a range of colours.)
60 Make empty wine bottles into candlesticks. Take a selection of empty wine bottles or other interestingly-shaped bottles. (We found an empty maple syrup bottle was ideal.) Glue on the Kraken's Crown label that is provided in the game's decoration pack. Allow melted candle wax to drip down the bottles to give a feeling of age. optionally glue on small shells. Then insert candles and check for stability.
61 While ensuring fire safety, cover the outside of tea light holders with burlap or twine or blue netting. Glue on sea shells for a sea-themed set of table candles.
62 Use an octopus, Kraken or mermaid candle holder or table lanterns.
63 Create a stunning feature wall for your dining table by mixing blue and turquoise balloons with decorative tropical fish (paper honeycomb, balloons or inflatable) and using a blue tinsel curtain for the backdrop.
64 Use sea-themed plates and napkins from a party supplier
Kraken-inspired Table Centerpiece
65 Use a toy wooden ship - and add the Jolly Roger flag to indicate it is a pirate ship. Alternatively, create your own pirate sloop using the same principle as given above (see tip 56) for the miniature pirate sloops.
66 Create the Kraken's tentacles by using strips of shaped foam or Bakerod and then using wire to hold the tentacles into the required shape. Glue onto a curved wooden base. Add suckers using beads and then paint. YouTube has a helpful video on creating a tabletop Kraken. Arrange the Kraken's tentacles around the ship.
Party Space, Photo Opportunities and Wall Coverings
Pirate ship with skeleton manning the cannon; an anchor is made out of cardboard covered with tin foil; a hand-painted tropical backdrop adds interest.
67 You may wish to create a feature wall in your main party space. This is ideal as the backdrop to the party and as a space for group photos and individual guest photos.
68 An easy way to transport your guests back to swashbuckling times is through a scene setter, room roll or wall mural.
69 If space permits, consider having a mock pirate ship. We used a children's garden ship and a cannon bought from a local theatre group to create an impressive party backdrop. (See how we hosted our pirate party for further details.) Optionally paint on a ship's name from the murder mystery game - for example "The Scurvy Skull", "Buccaneer Bounty" or "Doom Raider".
70 Hang swathes of material to suggest sails. You might use plain coloured sheets (beige, white, black) or red and white or black and white striped material. Alternatively, buy cotton twill dustsheets and use these to cover large areas of the wall. These sheets are also great for covering up evidence of modern living such as bookcases, computers or your television.
71 Use a reed or bamboo screening garden fence roll to provide a natural background to other decorations.
72 Buy decorative fish netting from your choice of online supplier. (Many suppliers have a choice of different colors.) Drape over your other wall hangings for a nautical feel. Add stretches of rope as you wish.
73 Buy a treasure map tablecloth and hang from the picture rail to create a stunning party backdrop. Alternatively, for that personal touch, draw your own treasure map on a neutral background. (We find that flat cotton sheets are ideal for painting a wall backdrop and are inexpensive. If you buy a beige-type color, then you do not need to waste paint on the background. You may also wish to "age" this treasure map by dabbing on different strengths of black tea or coffee solutions and by creating the odd tear. Optionally a splash of red paint could form "blood" drops.
74 Use printouts from game's extensive decoration kit to adorn your walls. Tip: in order to make these printouts look bigger, cover a piece of cardboard with a material to compliment the theme of your table and wall hangings. (For example, if you are using a red and white striped table runner or black and white striped pirate boat sails, then cover cardboard with oddments of the striped material. If you are using burlap or netting for your tablecloth, then cover the cardboard in these. Then glue your printout onto this covered cardboard to follow the theme of your table throughout your party space.
75 Create cutlass shapes out of cardboard and paint; alternatively, buy a selection of pirate costume accessories ad hang on your walls.
76 Hire wooden medieval stocks from a party prop shop - or buy a cardboard one. Let your guests have fun posing!
77 If it is Halloween, drape stretches of creepy cloth across your walls and tables.
Use the Game's Printouts in an Eye-Catching Way
The murder mystery game comes with a large selection of printouts. Most give you a choice as to whether to print them on large paper (A3 or ledger/tabloid) or normal paper (A4 or letter).
78 Make these printouts look a lot more impressive and eye-catching by framing them on a piece of cardboard or colored card. Putting several printouts together on a large piece of card can be more effective than having several smaller printouts. Optionally, cover the cardboard in a material to match your table decorations so that all of your decorations tie together visually. (I bought a flat, red bed sheet to cover old table mats and coasters with; I then used this same sheet to cover pieces of cardboard for the printouts.) Another alternative would be to cover the cardboard in spare table napkins.
79 For extra visual effect, put these framed printouts against a second background to really extend the visual impact. (I used a reed fence panel but burlap or a colored sheet would be other great choices.)