Game for a laugh

Party games picture for EDP Norfolk Magazine with playing cards and dice.
Photo: Angela Sharpe

Party games picture for EDP Norfolk Magazine with playing cards and dice. Photo: Angela Sharpe - Credit: Archant © 2009

It’s the same every Christmas. You’ve unwrapped the new board game that is meant to keep the whole family entertained for hours, but your after-dinner party game turns into an hour of trying to understand the complicated rules, hunting out the long-lost dice and, before you know it, the would-be players have drifted off without a dice thrown or a counter moved! Party games shouldn’t be this hard. Most of our old favourites need no more than pencil and paper – plus a willingness to cast aside reservations and get into the spirit.

Here are some of the best – and the simplest – games to keep the party going:

Living Statues

Great for breaking the ice and getting your guests laughing.

How to play

If you’re tired of your guest list looking the same each year, be it work colleagues, old friends or the relatives again, add a little celebrity sparkle to the party!

Before your guests arrive, write down the names of famous celebrities or characters on pieces of paper and fold them up in a hat or box. When the party has started, split your guests into two teams – one “the posers”, the other “the guessers” (they will have a turn as each).

Most Read

The posers are each asked to pull out a piece of paper from the hat and then strike the pose of the famous person written on it. Make sure you choose people who are fairly easily identifiable – anyone from Mick Jagger to Rodin’s Thinker, from Monroe to Beckham!

The guessers then have to work out the identities of these characters – if they make a correct guess their team claims a point, but if they shout out a wrong name the posers’ team wins the point.

All you need

A little preparation beforehand – just write down the names on paper and pop them in a box or hat.

The Name Game

Silly words and crazy drawings for all ages.

How to play

All the players have a piece of paper and pen each. One player is chosen to be the first “namer”. This namer makes up a word – the sillier or stranger the better – and writes it down with a brief explanation of what it could mean.

Use your imagination; it could be anything from a mythical creature to an ancient tradition, a long-lost musical instrument to a bizarre vegetable!

The namer announces the word (but keeps its meaning hidden). All the players now have one minute to draw a picture of their interpretation of the word.

At the end of the minute, the players reveal their pictures and the namer chooses the interpretation closest to his or her explanation.

All you need

Paper, pens and a timer or watch with a second hand.

Picture Consequences

A twist on the traditional game of consequences and a great one for the younger members of the family.

How to play

On a strip of paper, player one draws the head of a person, animal or monster, before folding it until only the bottom of the neck is visible. The paper passes to player two who adds a torso and arms, folds the picture out of sight and passes it on again. Player three adds legs and feet; player four writes a name for the creation. The completed picture is unfolded and your joint efforts can be admired – until you read that the chosen name is your own!

All you need

Strips of paper, A4 halved lengthways is most suitable. Pens or pencils.

The Telegram Man

The more ridiculous the better!

How to play

Each guest supplies a letter of the alphabet until you have a string of 12. Everyone now has two minutes to come up with the craziest telegram with each word beginning with the letters – they must be in the same order as they were called out. Some

people play this as headlines with just six letters maximum.

All you need

Pens, paper and a sense of the bizarre.


Discover how determined your guests are to win in this game of word power.

How to play

The aim of this game is to build a word, letter by letter, and not to be the person to finish it. So the first player picks a letter – let’s say E. Player two adds another letter – perhaps V, as in “event”. When it comes to the fifth player though, he or she might be quick-thinking enough to add an I instead and take the word on to become “evening”.

The player who ends the word becomes one-third ghost, so three of these and they disappear from the game.

This is a game that can become as difficult as you wish to make it; some experienced players try to run two words at the same time. But equally you can play this with children from around the age of eight –

and discover how well their spelling is coming along!

All you need

Nothing except a few willing players.

In the manner of . . .

A good one for the performers in the party.

How to play

Player one is sent out of the room. Meanwhile all the others decide on an adverb – anything from angrily to seductively. Player one returns and asks one of those in the room to perform a simple task or action in the manner of the word – again this can be as silly or as everyday as you can imagine, from pouring a cup of tea to asking directions. Player one tries to guess the adverb; if he fails, he must ask another person to perform a different act in the manner of the word. Thus it goes on until Player one guesses the adverb. The person whose performance reveals the word becomes the next player to leave the room.

All you need

Four or more players prepared to get up and act, and enough space for their performance.

Wink Murder

Great fun round the dinner table after the meal.

How to play

The host or hostess takes the equivalent number of playing cards from a deck as there are players for the game, making sure one of them is the Ace of Spades. These are shuffled and each player takes one, looks at it privately and returns it. The person who picked the Ace of Spades is the wink murderer and must keep this information to themselves.

After a few moments, when everyone is at the table or relaxing after the meal, the murderer must catch the eye of his or her victim and wink as secretively as possible at them, attempting to do so without anyone else seeing. After a count of 10, the victim must “die” as dramatically as they wish – clasping their throat, screaming, falling to the floor!

The aim is for the murderer to kill as many people as possible without being caught, while the other players must try to correctly identify who is doing the killing.

When someone thinks they have pinpointed the wink murderer, they must announce to the table that they believe they know who it is. Everyone who is not yet “dead”, must shut their eyes while this player touches the person he has chosen on the shoulder and then returns to his place.

Everyone opens their eyes and if the killer has been correctly identified, the player who found him is the winner. But if he chose wrong, he is out of the rest of the game.

All you need

A pack of playing cards and the ability to wink!

Two truths and a lie

Discover a few surprising secrets about your guests!

How to play

This is a good game for friends who think they know everything about each other. Every player writes down three facts about themselves – two true, one false. They can be anything from the name of your first kiss to your favourite drink or best subject at school.

Each player then reveals the three pieces of information about themselves and all the other players have to guess which is the lie. If they guess correctly, this player is out of the game. The winner is the last player to have his or her lie exposed.

All you need

Pens, paper and four or more players.

Comments powered by Disqus