Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Party Games to get Your Guests Laughing

A lot of the times when we have company over, the only “entertainment” for the evening is to sit and chat. We don’t need to plan anything. There is usually always something to talk about. For most of us, conversation comes naturally.

Other times, though, it’s nice to have a game of some kind planned for the evening. This is especially true when we’ve got a group of people coming over who may not know each other that well. Games can be a nice way to “break the ice” and get interactions going between people you’ve just introduced to each other. And even with people who have known each other a long time, sometimes it’s enjoyable to do something different rather than just sit and talk about our work weeks (especially if we’ve had a particularly difficult or frustrating week! Who wants to talk about that?!!). Games can be a wonderful way to incorporate some fun and laughter into an evening.

My favorite group games aren’t board game purchased from toy stores, but simple games, usually only requiring paper, pens, or everyday household objects like dictionaries. Below, you’ll find some of my top recommendations for party games. These are all easy to play, and fun for young and old alike. They’re also wonderful social mixers.


To play this game, you need one index card for every player. Before your guests arrive, write down “Fact” on one index card using a black marker, and “Fiction” on all the other cards. Mix up the cards and put them in a pile. When you’re ready to play the game, pass out one card to every player, keeping the cards face down. None of the players should know who got the “Fact” card except for the person who got it.

Once everyone has a card, players sit around in a circle, with each having to tell a funny or crazy—but believable—story. It could be a personal type of experience, or something that was read in the newspaper or seen on YouTube.

For all of the players who got a card marked “Fiction,” their stories will be made up. For the person who got the “Fact” card, his/her story must be true. However, that person will want to tell a true story that is outlandish or out-of-the-ordinary—since all the other stories will be and he/she does not want his/her story to be too believable. That’s because after the stories have all been told, players will vote on which one they think is true. Players get one point if they guess the right story. If no one figures out which story is really true, the truth-teller gets 10 points.

Once this round is finished, tally up the points for each player on a score sheet. Then collect the index cards, shuffle them up, and pass them out again so that you can play another round. Play as many rounds as you like, or for a set amount of time such as two hours.


This is a great game for 4 to 8 couples. The host(s) for the evening is the moderator of the game (and assistant moderator). As the moderator, you will need to call each of the wives and husbands before the party (without their spouses listening in!), and ask them a series of questions about their mates (some ideas follow). Write down their answers on index cards. Ideally, you should use colored index cards, using one color for the husbands’ answers and another color for the wives’ answers. On one side of the card, write the responder’s name, and the other side will be his/her answer. You will have a separate index card for the respondent’s answer to each question you ask. For each of the wives, you will ask the same series of questions. You will have a different set of questions to ask all of the husbands. Once you’ve asked all of the participants the questions, for each question, paper clip or rubber band all of the index cards together with the respondents’ answers on them.

Here are some questions you might ask:
--When was the last time she burned the dinner?
--What is your spouse’s favorite fast-food restaurant?
--What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to him?
--What is her most annoying habit?
--Does your wife sleep on her back, right side, left side or stomach?
--If your wife could go anywhere in the world on a vacation, where would it be?
--Where did you go on your first date?
--Which one of your spouse’s personality traits do you admire the most?
--Who chose most of the furniture in your house—you or your spouse?
--What cartoon character does your spouse say you’re the most like?
--Wives, what is the top item currently on your “Honey Do” list?
--Husbands, what is your wife’s favorite perfume?
--Wives, which of your outfits would your husband like you to donate to Goodwill?
--Husbands, what did you and your wife do on your first date?
--Who snores the loudest, you or your spouse?
--If your husband turns on television, what is he most likely to be watching? The news, sports, sci-fi, a documentary, an action movie or a sit-com?
--If your spouse gets lost while driving in an unfamiliar city, he or she would probably do what? Stop at a gas station and ask for directions, pull over on a street and ask a pedestrian for directions, pretend to know where he/she is going and keep driving, or blame you for not being a good navigator.
--If your spouse chooses the restaurant you’re going to for dinner, would it most likely be: a diner, a steak house, Asian, Italian, Mexican, continental, or fast-food?

When your guests arrive for the game, start by asking the husbands each of the questions you asked their wives on the phone. The couple receives a point if the husband’s answer matches that of his wife. In the second half of the game, ask the wives each of the questions you had asked their husbands. Tally up the total points. Award a prize or certificate to the couple with the highest score.

How many questions you ask is up to you. However, probably around 7 to 10 questions is ideal. If you are playing with 4 to 8 couples, the game will probably last about an hour.


Pass out a sheet of paper and a pen to every player. Have each person to write down the name of a famous person on his/her paper. It could be an entertainer, sports figure, politician, or other public figure, living or dead. Beneath the name, write down seven clues to the identity of the famous person. Start with lesser-known or more general facts about the person, and ending with more specific information, and facts most people know about the individual.

For instance, if you chose Bill Gates, your clues might be: “One of the wealthiest people in the world,” “Is married with three children,” “Was declared a billionaire by Forbes Magazine in the late 1980s,” “Lives in Washington state,” “Chairman of a high-tech company,” “Attended Harvard, but did not graduate,” and so on. Obviously, to do this, you will need to choose a person you are fairly knowledgeable about.

Each player will take a turn, reading off their seven clues about their chosen famous person. During player 1’s turn, he or she will start by reading the first clue. Then he or she will ask if anyone wants to guess who the person is. If someone guesses correctly, he or she gets 7 points. (If several people shout out the right answer, the first person to answer will be the one who gets the points.) If no one guesses correctly, player 1 will then read the next clue. If another player then identifies the famous person, he or she will get 6 points. If no one answers correctly, player 1 will read his/her third clue, and so on until all the clues have been read. Each time, one less point will be offered. When the 7th clue is read, the person who guesses correctly will be given 1 point. After all clues have been read, if no one guesses correctly, player 1 will receive 7 points.

Once player 1 is done, player 2 will go through the same steps, and after that, player 3 and so on. The winner is the person who has the most points at the end of the game.


To play this game, you will need paper and pens for each player, and a dictionary. Everyone sits in a circle, and one person is designated as player #1. Each player should have several blank sheets of the same kind of paper, and the same color pen. You may also want to pass out clipboards for your guests to write on.

Going clockwise around the circle, the other players are numbered 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on. The game begins when player #1 is handed the dictionary. He or she is then given a couple minutes to look through the dictionary and select a word that is not commonly used. Player 1 then announces the word to the group, and asks if anyone knows what the definition is. If anyone knows the meaning of the word, player 1 must then select another word.

Once a word has been selected that no one is familiar with, player 1 then writes down the definition on one of his/her sheets of paper, without showing anyone else what he/she is writing. If the word has multiple definitions, he/she should choose the meaning that seems most common. If the definition is very long, choose the main part of the definition to write down.

All the other players then write down their own made-up definitions for the word, trying to make it sound as believable as possible. Once finished, players then hand their sheets of paper (with their made-up definitions on them) to player 1. Player 1 then reads all of the definitions aloud, including his or her real definition, while keeping a straight face the whole time. Player 1 will then read all of the definitions a second time, and the group will then be asked to write down which definition they think is the correct meaning of the word. Each person who guesses the right definition will be given one point. Players wil also be given a point for each vote for their made-up definitions. If no one chooses the correct definition, player 1 will be granted 5 points.

Once the points are tallied up, the dictionary is handed to player 2 and he or she goes through the same steps player 1 did. Depending on how many people are playing, players may only have one chance to choose a word from the dictionary to stump everyone with. Or, there may be several opportunities. The winner is the person with the most points at the end of the evening.


Before your party, ask your guests to scan a photo of them when they were a toddler or young child, and email the file to you. (Discourage them from selecting a photo of when they were under a year old, since that can be way too difficult for this kind of game.) Have 5X7- or 8X10-inch photos printed up for each. Hang up the photos in different areas in your living or family room (or whatever room your guests will be hanging out in for the evening). Give each photo a number, and mark that number on the photo using a Sharpie marker. If desired, you can write down a title on a piece of paper underneath each photo, which will reveal information and a clue about the identity of the child. For instance, one photo might have the title, “Future coffee addict,” “Taken on a picnic at Malibu,” “Fido’s favorite toddler,” or “This kid’s first trip to Disneyland.”

When your guests arrive, give each a pen and a numbered sheet of paper. Next to each number, have your guests write down the name of who they think that childhood picture is. When everyone has written down all of their answers, read off the correct answers. Award a prize who correctly identifies the most photos.


This is the one game on the list that requires more than just everyday household objects. But that’s what makes it fun. Here are the details for this party: At least a couple weeks in advance—ideally when you send out your invitations—ask your guests to find an unusual gadget, tool or object of some kind to bring to the party. This will give them time to search for something unique to bring.

When I go to Home Depot with my husband and sons, there are plenty of strange tools and supplies there, especially in the plumbing department. On the other hand, my sons have been quite puzzled about some of the cooking tools in my kitchen. Depending on what kind of work your guests do, they may have a small, but unusual item at their place of employment that they could bring. I’ve seen items on art teacher’s desks, in medical and science supply houses, and in engineer’s offices that I couldn’t identify. I’ve also traveled to far-flung countries and seen items for sale in stores that I knew were unique to those cultures. These are all potential sources of unusual thingamabobs. You could steer your guests in those directions.

As the host, you’ll be the moderator of the game. This means you won’t be a contestant, but you will get a kick out of watching your guests play—that’s for sure! Before the party, ask each of your guests to email you with the name of the item they’re bringing for the game, and a sentence or two about what the item is used for. Assign a number to each guest’s item. Type up an answer sheet corresponding to each number, with the information about every guest’s mystery item. This answer sheet is what you will read off from during the party.

To set up for the party, put numbered 3X5 cards out on a table, to identify the mystery items. When guests arrive, have them sit out their mystery item on the correct numbered spot. Play the game either by passing out the items, one at a time, for your guests to examine. Distribute a sheet of paper to each guest, with a numbered list that has space to write down a name for the item and how it is used. Alternatively, you can just allow guests to peruse the table at their leisure during the evening.

Once everyone has had a chance to look over the mystery items, ask your guests to take turns reading their answers. After they’re finished, then it’s your turn to read your answer sheet. You are sure to get a lot of laughs as your guests read off their answers—and when you read the correct answers from your answer sheet. Sometimes just reading the correct name of an object is enough to make you laugh (especially when it comes to some plumbing parts!). Let guests tally up their own scores, and give a prize to the person who correctly identifies the most mystery objects.

Additionally, you may also have guests vote on who brought the “most unusual” item to the party, and award a prize for that as well.

These are some of my favorite party games. Have fun!

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