Six Group Party Games to Engage your Guests

I learned to entertain from my mother-in-law.  She would throw together a party for a group of people on a dime.  She kept a freezer full of frozen appetizers and a pantry full of paper products from Sam's and voila. In 30 minutes, she would pull it together.

I've adopted her way of entertaining.  I have a variety of sizes of colorful plastic bowls and trays for things to go on.  All are machine washable so that clean up is a snap. Mostly, I don't overthink it.

And while parties can be fun with only food and drink, having something to do gives people reasons to connect and makes it more fun when the people don't know each other well.  Here are some ideas we've tried with good result:

Pokeeno.  Pokeeno is like bingo but rather than letters and numbers, there are playing cards on the scorecard.  The caller goes through the deck and calls out the card, then people put a marker on their scorecard. When you get 5 in a row or diagonally, you call "Pokeeno" and win the round.  To make it more fun, we have each person bring a $5 gift in a bag and $5 cash.  Each round is played until the gifts are gone, then we play a blackout round for the pot of cash.  We usually rotate who calls and allow the caller to play their scorecard while calling. You can get this game on Amazon:
Pavilion Games: Poker-Keeno Set in Tin.

Four on a Couch.  You need at least 10 people for this one to work, but it is a game that works really well with a random assortment of people who don't know each other. It is a memory game. The object of this game is to get 4 members of your gender on the couch ( which could just be 4 designated chairs).  Everyone sits down in a circle (including the 4 couch seats) alternating boy/girl/boy/girl. (You can also pick some other A/B qualifier just so that everyone knows.) This means that two of the 4 seats on the couch belong to one team and two belong to the other. The objective is to get the other team out of those seats and your members on.

You do this by calling names. There is one empty seat in the circle and the person to the left of that seat calls a name and that person has to leave their seat do go to the empty chair. (Moving the position of the empty seat.)  Here's the kicker though.  For this game, no one has their real name.  Before the game starts, you write everyone's name on a slip of paper and have everyone pull a name out of a hat. (It doesn't matter if it is their own name).

In the beginning, people just guess a name because they don't know who holds what name cards. The challenge is remembering who has what new name for that round.  The only rule of the game is that you can't call the same name twice in a row. With regard to gender, it is the person's actual gender that matters though they may have the name of someone of the opposite gender during play.  Girls try to get four actual girls on the couch. Boys try to get four actual boys on the couch. (So it works best if the gender of the group is pretty even.)

Telephone Pictionary.  Pass around a stack of index cards (I like the large ones) and have each person take as many as their are people in the circle.  Each person takes their stack and writes a noun on it. Caller says "pass" and each person passes their stack to the left.  Then each person takes the noun card and moves it to the back of the deck, attempting to draw that noun on the next card. When the caller says "pass" again (give people enough time to draw), the stacks are passed to the left and each person looks at the drawing they've received, then try to guess the noun. They put the drawing at the back of the stack and write the noun they think it is on the next card. Once the stack gets back to the person who originally started it, you see how well the original word stayed intact…or how terribly twisted it became.

Heads up.  The phone app Heads Up takes charades to a whole new level. It is available on Android and iTunes.

Spikeball.  Last Christmas, my niece bought this game for my son and everyone went outside and played for hours. It is sort of like volleyball.  Sort of. Spikeball Combo Meal (3 Balls, Drawstring Bag and Rules)

Mafia.  This game works best when you have a really good storyteller to lead it and you need about 10 people for it to be fun.  For a detailed explanation on how to play, see here:

So, there are some ideas.  You usually only need one to get started.  Call 10-16 of your closes friends and stop by Sam's for some paper products and appetizers.

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Maira Gall