What Is a Mystery Dinner?
First, let's nail down the basics. A mystery dinner's bare bones are the following:
- The menu is known only to the hostess/host. You, the host or hostess, are the only one who knows what is on the menu.
- The menu's items are mysterious. Your menu's items should have obscure names. The names might have some relation to what the dish actually is, but the idea is to confuse the guest. Here's an example: You might call pancakes "potholders"!
- Everything's delicious! Your food, of course, should be delicious. Try not to select anything that will repulse your guests. You most certainly want them to enjoy themselves.
A variant is to have the "mystery" part of your dinner be to guess the theme. A prize could be given for the first one to guess it correctly.
Mystery Dinner Sample Menu Ideas
Here are a few items that I came up with. Feel free to use them if you wish! And if you want to spice things up some more, I've included several themes you might try on for size after the sample menu.
- Coffee = Go-Go Juice
- Milk = Teat Treat
- Chocolate Milk = Muddy Teats
- Water = Unfrozen Snow
- Tea = Boston’s Best
- Potatoes = Irish Eyes Are Smiling
- Pasta = Confucius says...
- Rice = Seeds From a Stem
- Baked Beans = Gas 'n' Go
- BBQ Ribs = Glossy Bones
- Fried Chicken = Your Goose Is Cooked
- Bourbon Chicken = Foul and Drunk
- Polish Sausage = Foreign Pig
- Country-Style Ribs = Hillbilly's Bones
- Hamburgers = Cow Patties
- Peas and Carrot Sticks = Sticks and Stones
- Corn = Just Passing Through
- Broccoli = Trees With Branches
- Asparagus Spears = Arrows
- Grapes = Seeds of Wrath
- Apple Slices = Adam's Nemesis
- Banana Split = Monkey's Iced Twin
- Brownies = Fairy’s Apprentice
- Chocolate Cake = Devil's Advocate
- Angel Food Cake With Chocolate Syrup = Tilted Halo
Giving your dinner a theme is fairly easy. Are your guests big readers? Then how about a literary-themed dinner? Each food item served might be a book title, or each food item's name (or part of it) might be in the book's title. For example, you could serve grapes on your menu and call them "Seeds of Wrath."
Once the guests name the theme, then they may have to guess the author. How much more fun could this get? Have them guess the genre. Prizes for the winners! They don’t have to be expensive prizes. Having a lovely centerpiece could be the prize for that table. Maybe a gift card to Barnes and Noble.
Are your attendees musically inclined? How about throwing some music into the titles? Guessing the musical genre could be one prize and the musical group another. The prize? A gift certificate to Amazon or your favorite music store! If your grand prize mystery is Elvis, then a CD of his greatest hits would be a great prize indeed!
- Western Omelet = All Shook Up
- Potatoes = Smiling Irish Eyes
If your people are move buffs, throw some movie titles into the mix. You might also have guests guess the director. The grand prize in this case could be copy of the DVD/BluRay of your choice.
- The Wizard of Oz = Apples (Remember the scene where Dorothy tries to eat one, and they get thrown at her?)
- Conan the Barbarian = Chicken legs… (Why? Because you eat chicken legs with your hands like a "barbarian.")
A Sample Mystery Dinner Breakfast Menu
And who says it has to be dinner food? I have created a mystery breakfast menu as well.
- Boiled Eggs = Soft Rocks
- Fried Eggs = Easy on the Eyes
- Scrambled Eggs = Messy Babies
- Western Omelets = All Shook Up
- Sausage Patties = Ground Pies
- Sausage links = Smart Fingers
- Pancakes = Pot Holders
- Bacon = Tight-Skinned
- Hash Browns = Shredded Roots
- Waffles = Road Kill
- Syrup = Sappy Attitude
- Butter = Greased Lightning
Don't Forget the Utensils!
Whatever you do, don’t forget to have them order their utensils. They are part of the menu as well.
- Fork = Devil’s tail
- Knife = Robinhood’s Tool
- Spoon = Lover's Cuddle
- Napkin = Sleepy Relative
- Toothpick = Lumberjack’s Reward
Of course, you may change these to suit your theme or your group.
Just Have Fun!
The scope of your dinner can be bound only by the limits of your imagination!
Make your menu is pleasing to the eye. If you are creative, cut out a shape that is part of your theme. Plain paper is fine, if you're more comfortable with that. No one says you have to have a theme for your dinner either. You only need good food and great friends to have a spectacular time.
Bethany Raulerson on October 29, 2019:
I am hosting our Sunday School Christmas party and would LOVE some menu ideas!! Could you please send me multiple menus so I can pick and choose items to suit our guest list?
Anna Panther on July 23, 2019:
Thank you but mmm I have been part of a dinner where these clues were used and those answers do not into what I remember. But thank you anyway. :(
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on July 19, 2019:
I'm not exactly sure. I choose the foods, then the names for the foods, or utensils.
I believe #3 cocktail, #4 is a fork, #5 is a potato, #6 Jalapeno poppers, #7 Sugar and that's about the extent of my guesses.
Anna Panther on July 18, 2019:
I have some cryptic clues for a dinner menu that I need the answer to - so if you can help let me know!
1. A duck with no bill
3. Short rooster rear
4. Little Lucifer Tail
5. Paddy's choice
7. Endearment substance
8. Mass fare opus
beverly on June 06, 2019:
i need idea for mystery night
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on March 08, 2019:
It might be the one I wrote in regards to using spaghetti in the menu. If that is the case then yes I do have both the menu and master copy. I'll need an email address to send it to though.
Darwin on March 08, 2019:
I saw a mystery dinner with spaghetti but I misplaced it. Do you have one?
Bonnie, on August 22, 2018:
I need ideas for mystery dinner featuring taco bar, only thing i have so far is lake of fire for hot salsa
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on March 13, 2018:
Are you referring to names for those foods? Like with a menu? "Narcissist Rap" - Ham sandwiches. "Tiny dancers" - Shrimp. "Roots and stems" - Veggie Tray. "Dragon's Breath on the Ritz" - cheese and crackers. "Haggis" - Summer sausage.. Just few plays on the names is what you might want to do.
Barb on March 12, 2018:
Any ideas for a groom's dinner featuring hot Ham sandwiches, shrimp, veggie tray, cheese and crackers and summer sausage
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on May 12, 2015:
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on November 22, 2013:
I'm not sure what you need. Food ideas or if you have a menu - names for the foods?
Ruth on November 20, 2013:
We are going to try a mystery breakfast this weekend, any ideas would be helpful.
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on October 23, 2013:
I didn't write a menu, I gave Deanne an idea. As far as Christmas themed menu. You choose the type of food you want then name it to fit. I'm not sure what types of food you want to use. For instance if you wanted to serve 'porcupine balls' (meatballs with rice) I would call them "Dirty Snowball" - Chocolate covered raisins could be "Reindeer Poop". Stuffed mushrooms - (baby Portabellas) could be called "Full Mangers".
You just take the food - then think of an association with the name of the food - then create a new name for it. Above all - have fun with it.
Cms39us on October 21, 2013:
I'm also trying to plan a Christmas themed party and need mystery dinner ideas. Would appreciate any ideas or the menu shared with Deanne above. Thanks!
cole wife on September 22, 2013:
I am thinking of doing a Christmas themed party and need menu ideas. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
ladymagoo on May 16, 2013:
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on May 16, 2013:
I need an email to send it to.
ladymagoo on May 16, 2013:
I would love to have a copy of your menu and use it for my Girl Scout troop. I think we will invite their parents to a "Mystery Dinner". It should be fun! Thanks
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on May 15, 2013:
So glad you enjoyed it!!
Matthew on May 14, 2013:
Very interestingand insightful article. I particularly enjoyed "just passing through" corn... tooo funny!! I think this would go over well with others in my congregation. I think I might have a hard time coming up with creative pseudonyms for dishes though. When I'm stuck for menu ideas I like starmenuupdates.com, but for literary alternatives I might need some help.
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on December 18, 2012:
My ideas are on the way. Whew!! cheesecake was the hardest for me!!
Deanne on December 18, 2012:
I'm helping to host a Christmas Mystery Dinner for 11 people. We are having ham, twice baked potatoes, corn, Caesar salad, cheesecake for dessert and a bunch of other things to eat. I was just wondering if you could help me out with some Christmas names for some of these foods?
Thanks so much!
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on November 17, 2012:
On it's way!!
Linda on November 15, 2012:
I am having a New Years Mystery Dinner. I have my menu and some ideas ready but would like to have a few ideas from you. Thanks.
Corina on March 07, 2012:
Sorry e-mail is email@example.com
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on February 04, 2012:
LOL - Stinkers!! A couple of mine did that as well. They said they wanted to maybe do it at church, I think they just wanted to take them home to study!! hehehe
BARBIEK41 on February 04, 2012:
I have done many of these events at our church we have always had such a good time. The only problem last year some of the ladies took home some of the lists they got a hold of. So I am trying to come up with new ideas. We are having another one around Valentines. Loved your ideas. I may use some of them.
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on October 19, 2011:
Oh wow... Thanksgiving mystery dinner? Hmm, sounds like fun, what are you planning on serving? I would go on the 'turkey' theme but not necessarily the regular roasted Turkey, maybe some turkey sliders and call them 'slippery fowl'? Maybe the stuffing might have a name like 'sage advice'. Cranberry sauce might be 'water logged'... (cranberries are grown near water - if they sink they are no good) The invitation Hmm, I might think of a theme and decide from there or you can just tell your invitees that they are invited to a mystery dinner!!
Best wishes and I'm sure no matter what you decide I'm sure it will be great!!
firstname.lastname@example.org on October 19, 2011:
I love your ideas. I'm planning on having a pre-thanksgiving mystery dinner. Do you have any ideas for menu items? Also a title for the invitation?
Thank you for your help!
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on October 12, 2011:
Hmmm, not off the top of my head, I would have to give it some thought. I might go either way with ideas... If it's blustery out, I might do a 'summer' theme (making it harder to guess the foods) Using the things you do in the summer as the names of the foods. For instance 'Volley Ball' might be something like meatballs.
If I went with a Christmas theme I might use something like "Rudolph's red nose" - That could be cherries...
Hope that gave you a kick start!!
Tillie on October 12, 2011:
Am planning one for Christmas. Got any ideas?
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on October 06, 2011:
It's on it's way!! I would love to see your other menu that you used...
arfmanda on October 06, 2011:
I am hosting a mystery menu party for my church organization around 20 people. We have done one in the past, but I would love new ideas. Any suggestions are welcome. my email is email@example.com
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on September 21, 2011:
I love to see the reactions on the faces of those I treat to these types of dinners! It is great fun!!
William Odell from Upstate South Carolina on September 21, 2011:
great names Susie...been in this business a long time and I appreciate someone's creativity and imagination, apparently we both love food and putting smiles on peoples faces, it's a great reward for all the hard work...:)
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on September 02, 2011:
Up towards the top on the right hand side you will see 'contact sweetsusieg'...
Lisa on September 01, 2011:
I attended one years ago and then hosted a few on my own and all were a success! But now I've lost my menu and could really use a copy of yours to get me started. Can't email you since I can't seem to see your address here anywhere :(
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on August 30, 2011:
Thanks!! So glad you are planning one!! I hope you have the best of times!
Tishsuz on August 29, 2011:
Awesome. A friend threw one of these dinner parties last Saturday and it was an absolute blast. Thanks for more tips, as I'm now planning one for my family.
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on July 27, 2011:
I would LOVE to help!! I'll zip out an e-mail to you!
Brenda Harding on July 27, 2011:
I have done these before, but love to find some new names, that is my weakness trying to come up with names.
I would love your help with coming up with names for appetizers, I have a bookclub and want to do all appts for the meeting. Can you help??
Thanks for your time and talent.
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on July 26, 2011:
You are very welcome!! If you ever get the chance, do it!! It is too much fun!
Fill Your Heart Edible Memories from USA on July 26, 2011:
What a fun idea! Thanks for all the ideas.
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on January 30, 2011:
Oh sure you can!! Look at a food item, what does it remind you of? Let's think spaghetti.... Yummmm, but we can come up with some pretty disgusting names!! Worms, snakes, crossed highways... And the list goes on! Confused at the 'crossed highways'? Ever look at a map? My husband is a truck driver and one time he called for directions. I told him the area he was going to looked like a plate of spaghetti. LOL
Glad you got your laugh!!
Thanks for stopping by!
Dusty Snoke from Chattanooga, TN on January 30, 2011:
That sounds like so much fun. I love the sample names you gave. I could never be that creative. Gave me the laugh I needed this morning.
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on January 29, 2011:
Awesome!! That sounds like a plan. You'll have to let me know how it goes. I would love to hear about it!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Christina Lornemark from Sweden on January 29, 2011:
Thanks for this wonderful ideas! You have inspired me, and i will try a mystery menu next time we invite our friends for dinner My husband is a chef, so he will ensure that the food tastes good, and now you have given me an important task as well!
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on January 28, 2011:
Absolutely!! I have a slight advantage in my circle of friends. They have all tasted my cooking so I have gained their trust in that area. Most of them are fairly certain no matter what I name it, it will taste good!
A themed party would be great for a small number of guests, say 6 to 8 would be fantastic!
Thanks for stopping by!
Dave Mathews from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA on January 28, 2011:
As a man who is into the culinary scene and who loves to experiment with food as most chefs amateur or professional love to do, to learn how to intensify flavours of food, I think your little game would be great fun to introduce to the culinary experts so called.
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on January 28, 2011:
LOL @ drbj- Well I suppose you could serve mystery meat if you didn't want your guests returning!! I like to serve really good food with funny names.. My Mom attended one years ago, this is where I first got the idea. I wish we would have kept the menu from that!
rankryst72 - Thanks. Give it a whirl! You'll see how much fun a mystery dinner can be!
rankryst72 from Orlando on January 27, 2011:
This is some hungry information Sweetsusieg! This is good writing!
drbj and sherry from south Florida on January 27, 2011:
I think I have the perfect dish for the main meal at a Mystery Dinner, susie. How about mystery meat - Spam? Or mystery chicken - any fast food restaurant's chicken nuggets?
Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on January 27, 2011:
Oh man!! Would LOVE to have you and Tom attend one!! You guys would be so much fun!!!
sharon on January 27, 2011:
GREAT ideas! I wish I were closer & I would LOVE to attend> Sounds FUN!!!