It seems as I get older and am less inclined to “go out” and “party it up,” or whatever the slang is, I am spending more and more time with friends having “game nights.”
These nights are a staple of mine and my husband’s social life, whether we have just a couple friends over to get into an intense game of Catan or break out the Nintendo 64 for some Mario Kart (Let me give a shout-out to my homeboy, Wario!).
But sometimes, you host a gathering that forces people that aren’t as familiar with each other to socialize, and sometimes that’s awkward.
As the host in these situations, I feel I am tasked with breaking the ice in the most fun, laughter-filled, sometimes embarrassing way possible: with the help of a few trusty party games that, for the most part, only require some pencils and paper.
Last Christmas I hosted my book club’s Christmas party. This is where the usual members gather, but instead of discussing books, we bring our husbands, or significant others, and “mingle.”
What we’ve learned is most husbands dislike mingling. So, to bring everyone together, I rely on my favorite party games. They get everyone laughing — at each other and at themselves and at the ridiculousness in general — and get people out of their comfort zones in the best possible way.
After all, when we are out of our comfort bubble, isn’t that when we not only create new and wonderful memories and make new friends, but we also learn a little about ourselves in the process?
Who knows, you might actually be excellent at impersonating “Aladdin flying on a magic piece of toast,” or whatever hilarity you drew out of the fishbowl.
Here are some of my go-to party games:
1. Fishbowl. This game is pretty much the absolute best party game out there. If you have one better, I’d love for you to share it with me, because this one is hard to top. It has three rounds that cater each to the theatrical members of the group and to the more reserved, but quick-witted. But, everyone plays all three rounds so you are probably going to have to set aside your pride and just dive in to the hilarity of the game. Fishbowl kind of smushes the concepts of Taboo, Charades and Password together and is guaranteed to break the ice of any party.
To learn how to play, go here: http://www.greatgroupgames.com/fishbowl.htm
2. Pictionary Telephone. This game is a place for artists to thrive. But if you aren’t an artist, it’s almost even more fun. You’ll probably want to hang your finished drawings up on the fridge for a good laugh each time you walk by. (I personally can't have enough reminders to stop taking life so seriously.)
Pictionary Telephone is a play off the game Telephone — the one you probably remember playing with your friends in elementary school where you whisper a secret to someone, who then whispers it on down the line. As it goes from person to person, the more tangled it gets until it’s not what you even said in the first place. It’s one of those games that the more wrong it goes, the more right it is.
For instructions on how to play, go here: http://www.greatgroupgames.com/telephone-pictionary.htm
(This version of instructions tell you to make a small booklet for each player before playing. I am usually more slapdash about it, giving each player one sheet of paper and having them fold as they go.)
3. Who Am I. You may have played this one, but it’s a fun way to talk to people one on one who you have just met. Everybody has a piece of paper stuck to their forehead with the name of some famous person on it, and they have to ask people questions about their person and ultimately guess who they are. You can do it in a loose nature, where everyone walks around asking questions of people one-on-one, or you can do it more formally, where the whole group participates as one.
Exact instructions to the game can be found here: http://www.icebreakers.ws/medium-group/who-am-i.html
4. Things. This is a good get-to-know-you game. And it’s pretty simple. One person makes a “things” statement (you rotate who does this each round) and everyone else writes a response to the statement on slip of paper. The responses are all gathered up by the statement-maker and he or she tries to guess who wrote what. The statement can be something simple like “what makes you smile” or something bizarre like “If you woke up and you were invisible, what is the first thing you would do.”
Happy hosting and gaming and gathering!
Allison Blankenship is a founding member of True40. Her goal in life is to hit the 100-classes mark by the end of the year. She is already dreaming of the Christmas season and wishes she could put up her tree, like, yesterday.