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Party Games

Tips for Successful Game Leader

  • Get attention of the group.
  • Stand where everyone can see you.
  • Use the other adults as helpers.
  • Groups will cooperate better if they know what is going to happen.
  • Plan your activities to move easily from game to game. For instance, if everyone is seated, then play two or three "sitting" games.
  • Stop the game before interest lags.
  • Arrange competing teams so they are equal in strength and skill.
  • Change the activity before the group gets bored.
  • Change the rules to meet the situation.
  • If there is something missing, improvise.
  • Learn to use whatever materials are available.

Treasure Hunt

Divide kids into teams 1through 4 depending on how many are at the party. Make up clues and scatter them all over the house (and outside, too, if weather permits). Each clue leads to the next and at the end of the trail is a treasure for the team, for example, food, party favors, or prizes.

Hint: Color code clues so teams only find their own clues. Time the hunt and see which team gets done first.

String Treasure Hunt

Take colored strings and wind them all over your property, inside and outside. Up the stairs and then back down. Over and under furniture, beds and chairs. Teams must wind up their roll of string to find the treasure at the end of the roll.

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are a lot of fun, there are many variations on the idea. The key to a successful scavenger hunt is to think about who the players will be and make clues and items that will appeal to them. After you decide what type of scavenger hunt you will have, you need to spend some time coming up with a list of items to collect or activities to complete. Here are some fun ideas:

Video Scavenger Hunt - Players use video recorders to record themselves doing the silly things on their list. When all the groups get back together, they watch the tapes.

Picture Scavenger Hunt - Players use Polaroid® cameras to photograph the crazy things on their list.

Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt - Players go out on foot in your immediate neighborhood to follow the instructions on their list.

Mall Scavenger Hunt - Players are set loose in the mall to follow the instructions on their list.(This works well with the camera!)

Mail Call

This game is usually played as an icebreaker. Have your group sit in a circle so there are no gaps. (It may be helpful to use chairs if possible.) Someone stands in the center of the circle and says, "Mail Call for everyone who is wearing red." Then all the people who have red on get up and switch chairs with someone else who had red on. Players cannot sit in a chair immediately beside them or in their own chair. The object is for the person in the middle to get a chair before someone else can. It's similar to musical chairs.

Note: The person in the middle does not have to be wearing red. Be creative, some other examples you can use are: "Mail Call for everyone who ... has a dog, has a sister, likes to eat pizza, drove in a car to get here, wears braces, hates math." The list is endless!

Honey I Love You

Honey I Love You, is another icebreaker that's fun to play. Your group should be sitting in a circle again with one person in the middle. The person in the middle can go to anyone in the circle and say "Honey I love you, won't you give me a smile?" The person who was asked the question has to answer back "Honey I love you, but I just can't smile" (without smiling.) The person in the middle can do anything to the other person to make them smile except touch them. You have to be the judge as to what you call smiling.

Back to Back

Have youth start in groups of two or three people. Have the pair (or trio) sit on the floor back to back. The youth need to bend their knees and link elbows. On the count of three they try to stand up. It may take a few tries before the group is successful!

Next have the individual groups combine to make a larger circle. Combine circles until you have everyone work together to stand at the same time.

Guess What?

This is another relay game. Divide the group evenly. Have the first person from each team run across the room to a paper sack (each team has a sack.) In the bag are a bunch of different foods wrapped in tin foil. Each person has to take a food article and eat it - no matter what it is! Then run back to their team and let the next person go. Some food ideas: candy, liverwurst, pizza, or onions. Warn everyone that they may be in for a surprise! Check with the youth about food allergies before playing this game.

Head to Toe

This is also played as an icebreaker. Have your group split itself into pairs of twos. Have one partner be "A" and one partner be "B." Group "A" forms an inner circle and walks clockwise. Group "B" would make an outer circle walking counter-clockwise. The leader would put some music on and when he turns it off, the group would stop and have to do what he/she says. The leader, when the music is stopped, would then have to put his/her head to his/her partner's toe. You eliminate couples when they are the last ones to do what you told them to do.

Note: Do different things like "nose to knee" and "cheek to cheek."

Oranges 1

Each team is lined up with one orange per team. The object is to pass the orange to the end of the line by using only your neck and chin. If you drop the orange, you have to start back at the beginning.

Oranges 2

This is a fun race game. You will need two oranges and one pair of old pantyhose for each racer. Place one orange into the leg of the pantyhose and then tie the pantyhose around the waist of the racer. The orange leg should hang down towards the ground and swing between their legs. Using the "third leg" players tap the second orange on the floor in front of them and race to the finish line. The first player and orange to cross the finish line wins.

Note.- This is a great game for a tournament. Hold practice runs, then elimination races, and finally a championship race.

Guess the Phrase

You need two teams for this game with an adult serving as referee. Before the party, think of phrases, TV shows, movies, etc. that your group would easily guess and put them on index cards. You may want to follow a theme (example: Christmas or summer vacation) or just say "anything goes!" Team members take a turn drawing and guessing. Everyone on the team must take a turn drawing! The team that draws has an opportunity to guess the phrase and receives a point if guessed correctly within 1 1/2 minutes. (You may want to use a kitchen timer or use a timer from another game you already have.) The other team does the same. Drawings must be completed without any words or gestures. Teams alternate back and forth guessing and drawing.

If the phrase isn't guessed within the time limit; the other team gets a free guess and can steal the point.

Note: A fun twist on this game is to allow your teams to think up the words or phrases to be drawn. Each team makes up the clues that the other team has to draw and guess.


Have your group sit in a circle. With a deck of cards, have each player take a card until everyone has one. If there are seven players, take seven cards from the deck then pass those around. Make sure one of the cards is an ace of spades. The person who receives that ace secretly winks at the other players. If you are winked at, you say, "I'm dead" and throw your card in the middle. The object is to guess who has the ace of spades. If you think you know, state that you want to guess. If you're wrong, you forfeit and die - if you are right, you win.

Around the Table Ping Pong

For this game you need a ping pong table, two paddles, one ball, and from 5-15 people. Everyone is spread out around the table, and the two people on either end have the paddles. One person serves, drops the paddle on the table and moves in a clockwise direction around the table. The person on his left moves in and picks up the paddle to return the ball. Everyone gets a chance to hit the ball, and really has to move fast! Everyone is allowed two misses and then they are out. When there are two people remaining, they must hit the ball, place the paddle down, turn around, pick up the paddle, and return the ball, until one of them misses and is out.

King Elephant

This is a game of memory and laughter! Here's how it works. Players sit in a circle and everyone decides what animal they will be and what hand signal they will use to reflect that animal. For example; someone may be a worm and wiggle their finger or be a duck and bend their arms and "flap them" like wings. One person is King Elephant and their signal is holding their arm out in front of their face like an elephant trunk. King Elephant is the "head" of the circle and there should be an empty chair or empty space between him/her and the next player, who is the back of the circle.

When play begins King Elephant starts. King Elephant makes his/her signal and then another player's animal signal. That player then has to make their signal and another player's animal signal. Play continues uninterrupted until someone goofs! The player who goofs goes to the back of the play circle and all other players move up.

The goal of each player is to become King Elephant. This can happen when King Elephant makes a mistake and has to go to the end of the line. King Elephant then has to become whatever animal the new King Elephant was and use this new signal. The new King Elephant has to remember that they are now the King Elephant signal. It gets confusing and that is part of the fun!

Note: It may be a good idea to set a time limit on play or just let the group keep playing until you see that the interest and enthusiasm is lagging.

Hand Pat

Players form a circle, cross arms, and lay their hands flat on the table or floor. Someone is picked to start the pat and each hand pats the table in its turn. If someone pats their hand twice, then the direction changes and the patting goes the other way. Remember, your arms are crossed so you have to watch carefully and wait your turn to pat! If someone lifts their hand to pat when it is not their turn, or does not pat when it is their turn, that hand is out. Play continues until there is only one hand that has not made a mistake left in the circle.

Hi, Larry

Players sit in a circle and say the following to one another: Player A, "Hi, Larry." Player B, "What, Larry?" Player A, "Tell, Larry."

This short dialogue goes around and around the circle and only changes if someone makes a mistake. After a player makes one mistake they become "One Dot." After the player makes a second mistake, they become "Two Dot." A third mistake and the player is out. Players must remember what level everyone is so they can call them the right name. For example, your dialogue might be, "Hi, Larry. What, One dot? Tell, Two Dot." Or any variation! The game gets going fast and is very fun!

Coin Toss/Hand Squeeze Race

Players form two teams. The teams sit on the floor in lines, facing each other. At the head of the lines, the "referee" sits between the two players with a coin. At the end of the line, a small ball or other item sits in the middle of the last two players. All the team members hold hands and close their eyes. The only team members who can keep their eyes open are the two at the head of the lines. They watch as the referee flips the coin. If it lands tails, nothing happens. If it lands heads, the hand squeezing begins! It is a race to squeeze hands quick enough so that your team member at the end of the line can be the first to grab the ball or other item in the middle. The winning team gets to rotate their players down one. The game is over when a team has rotated all their players through the line.

All Tied Up

The group is going to get "all tied up" and try to get untied. Stand in a circle close to each other and have the youth place their hands in the center of the group. Grab the hand of someone across the circle. Make sure that youth are not holding both hands of the same person. It might take some time to do some hand switching to make this work right.

Without letting go of each other's hands try to untie the mess they created. Be careful not to let youth twist someone's arm too much. Allow youth to let go long enough to keep from hurting each other. When they are all untied you will end up with one large circle or two smaller circles.

Airplane Bonko

Any number can play. Have 4-6 kids per table. Designate a head table and number the rest 2, 3, 4, etc. Materials: pair of dice for every table, wrapped packages that will be given away at the end of the game, a bell, buzzer or whistle to get attention, and pads of paper and pencils for every player.

Play begins with a player rolling dice (2) at each table. Each player tries to roll "1's" - a player earns 1 point for every "1" that he rolls on either dice. If the player rolls double "1's" on the first round, he receives 25 points and gets to pick a package from the prize table. If he rolls doubles of any other number, he receives 5 points. If he rolls double "3's" at any time, he loses all points and his turn. Player one keeps rolling until he has rolled no points or counters on the dice. Play continues with each player taking his/her turn and adding up points until a player at the head table reaches 50 points, blows a whistle, and stops the round.

The two top scoring players at all tables (except the head table) rotate up a table - the 2 low players stay at the table. The top scores at the head table stay there and the losing 2 players go down to a lower table.

Top table signals when ready to begin Round 2.

Second Round-All players try to roll "2's."

Third Round - All players try to roll "4's." (Skip "3's" because three's cause a player to lose a turn and all their points.)

Continue to go up to "6's" and back down to "1's" to the end of the game.

As play continues, packages will be removed from the prize table so players will be taking gifts away from players who have already taken a prize earlier. Whoever has a package at the end of the last round unwraps the prize and gets to keep it.