My friend, Alice, is really fun. She’s a big dreamer, and she loves people so well. We worked together at Auburn Christian Fellowship, and I quickly learned that we’re a great team. We both love ideas and especially love ideas that involve a party. At ACF, we helped organize the Christmas Ball, Halloween Party, and Spring Fling. Alice is great at coming up with the ideas, and she’s great at sharing her vision with other people. When you hear her ideas, you want to be a part of the plan!
Alice works part time at Campus Crusade (Cru) here in Huntsville, and one of her ideas has been to host an annual mystery dinner. The mystery dinner is a really fun way for the students to all work together. But, beyond that, it’s a time for students to share about how the Lord has used Cru to impact their lives and the Cru staff to share fundraising and tangible needs.
The mystery dinner theme is new each year, and this year was Medieval Murder Mystery. Several months before the event, Alice asked if I’d help with ambience. She described that as “setting the mood.” Meaning people needed to grasp, as soon as they walked in the doors, that this was a medieval themed play, and that the room and table design should make people feel like they were in a medieval banquet hall.
Alice also shared some other criteria: Along with making the room feel like a banquet hall, we had to incorporate items from the skit. Each table needed a map, catapult instructions, clues, and a way to write out their final guess at “who done it”. We also had to do this while being good stewards of our resources- meaning a very small budget.
The event venue was a local church that graciously allowed us to use the space. Students, Cru staff, and our husbands (thanks Dan and Michael!) made all of the decorations. When you’re working on a tight budget, it is so helpful to have lots of volunteers! The students came over to Alice’s several nights before the event and painted, sewed, burned, hammered, organized, laughed, you name it- they did it! Without them and their endless college energy, we would not have been able to pull this off with such success!
Here are a few of my favorite parts of the room:
Guests were able to sponsor a table, or request to sit with other guests. When the guests arrived, they were shown which table they’d be sitting at using the scroll seating chart. Several students found this knight in a storage room just before the guests arrived, and thought it would be perfect. I agreed, and he stood guard over the seating chart!
Guests were seated at banquet tables. To make the tables feel like long, grand tables, we used two tables for added length. So, table 1 and 2 on the seating chart were pushed together to appear as one long table.
Each table was marked with a table number that coordinated with the seating chart. I hand painted the number onto logs that came from my family’s land. My dad, husband, and cousin, Luke, spent their Easter cutting logs and gathering greenery (smilax) so that we had enough for all 20 tables! Then, my dad made a special trip to Huntsville to deliver the logs and the greenery you see on each of the tables. I could not have done this part without them!
Each table also had a map, catapult instructions, and a packet of clues. We placed these things on a wooden charger, and used a burlap bag to store the clues.
Tables were decorated with greenery and candles. Many of the candles and lanterns were donated by students or members of the church that allowed us to use this space for the event.
Crests with fabric draping were used to add height to the room.
Each place setting also had a Welcome note that shared more about Cru and instructions for the murder mystery.
It’s a blurry and “candid” picture, but this was my favorite part of the room! Guests filling each table to see their children and friends perform in a dinner theater!
These guests laughed and clapped and supported these students so well! And, they got to hear more about how the Lord is moving in their campus, and how Cru has impacted these kids’ lives.
This was a really special night, and I was honored to be a small part of it! If you’d like to learn more about Cru, you can visit their website: