Inspiration & Ideas

Top 10 party games

Table with dice, cards and a timer on it.

Think games are just a way to break the ice at summer camp? Think again: Playing a party game is an easy, fun way to meet new people and bring old friends closer together. Here are our top 10 picks for crowd-pleasing party games (drinking optional).

1. Two Truths and a Lie

What you need to play: Your imagination

Number of players: Minimum of 2

How to play: As the name of the game suggests, each player must come up with three statements: two truths and a lie. The game begins with the first player sharing his or her three statements with the other participant(s), who must then guess which two statements are true and which is a lie. No need to raise your hand or wait to be called on; simply make your guess by saying it aloud. After the first player’s lie has been revealed, the second player then takes their turn saying two truths and a lie. Repeat these same steps with each additional player until everyone has taken a turn.

2. Who Am I?

What you need to play: Name tags or paper

Number of players: Minimum of 4

How to play: The game begins with the host filling out name tags with the names of different famous people — fictional, non-fictional, living or dead — and attaching those name tags to partygoers’ backs (or players can also hold a slip of paper to their forehead). The object of the game is for each partygoer to guess the name written on his or her back. The catch? Players can only guess the name on their back by asking other participants yes or no questions. Continue playing until everyone has guessed correctly.

3. Message Under a Plate

What you need to play: Paper and a pen

Number of players: Minimum of 4

How to play: Before guests arrive, write sentences on slips of paper and place them under guests’ dinner plates (each guest should have a different sentence). The sentences should be silly but not nonsensical — for example, “My dad is Amy Schumer’s hairdresser’s uncle” or “Have you ever tried ostrich eggs?” After everyone sits down at the table, have guests silently read the piece of paper under their plate. As soon as everyone has their sentence memorized, they must attempt to slip it into conversation without the other guests noticing. If one guest is called out by another, he or she is out. The first guest to use his or her phrase and go undetected wins, but it’s fun to keep playing until all the players have said their sentences.

4. Spoons

What you need to play: Spoons (one fewer than the total number of players) and a deck of cards

Number of players: 4-8

How to play: Begin by arranging spoons in a small circle in the center of the table with the handles pointing outward. The object of the game is to get four-of-a-kind (for example, 4 jacks, 4 sevens, etc.) by drawing new cards and discarding others. Assign one player to be the dealer — he or she begins by dealing each player four cards and making a pile with the remaining cards. The game starts with the dealer drawing the top card from the pile of remaining cards and either exchanging it with one in his or her hand or passing it to the player to his or her left (no player should have more than 5 cards or fewer than 4 cards at any given time). As soon as one of the players has four-of-a-kind, he or she takes a spoon, at which point the remaining players are allowed to grab the remaining spoons. The player left without a spoon is out. Each time a player loses a round, one spoon is taken away until there are only two players left competing for one final spoon; whoever gets it wins.

5. Celebrity

AKA: The Name Game

What you need to play: Paper and pens for all the players

Number of players: 4-12

How to play: Begin by giving every player 3 to 5 slips of paper and instructing everyone to write the name of a different actor, politician, athlete, etc. (living, dead, fictional or nonfictional) on each. Place all the names in a hat or bowl, then divide players into two teams. Choose one team to go first — that team should elect a player to give the first round of clues. Said player then picks a name out of the hat and has one minute to get his or her team to guess as many celebrity names as possible. The clue-giver can say anything as long as it doesn’t include or rhyme with the celeb’s name. Once the team correctly guesses the celebrity name, the clue-giver then draws another name and continues until time is up or there are no names left in the hat. For each name guessed correctly, the team earns one point. After the minute has passed, the first team’s turn is over, and if they were still trying to guess a name, it goes back in the hat. Then the second team begins its turn. The game continues until there are no names left in the hat.

6. I Doubt It

AKA: Cheat; B.S.

What you need to play: Deck of cards

Number of players: 3-5 players for every one deck of cards

How to play: Begin by dealing the entire deck of cards out to all players (note that some players may end up with one more card than others). The player to the left of the dealer starts by placing any aces in his or her hand face down in the discard pile by announcing the number of aces (for example, “one ace”) said player is laying down. However, the player may bluff if he or she does not have an ace at all or put down more or fewer cards than he or she announces. The next player plays 2s, the player after plays 3s, and so on. If one of the players believes another is bluffing, he or she can call out “I doubt it!” (or “B.S.”). The person who played the card must then turn the just-played card(s) face up to prove whether or not he or she is bluffing. If the player is found to be bluffing, he or she must take all the cards from the discard pile. If he or she is found not to be bluffing, the challenger must take all the cards from the discard pile. The first player to get rid of all of his or her cards wins.

7. Reverse Charades

What you need to play: Your imagination and a sense of humor

Number of players: Minimum of 8

How to play: Unlike the original game of charades, in which one person is assigned to act out the title of a movie, TV show or book while the rest of the players collectively guess that title, in reverse charades one person is assigned to guess while all the other players act out the titles. All other rules from the original game still apply; for example, actors cannot speak or mouth the words.

8. Telephone Pictionary

What you need to play: Paper and pens for all the players plus a stapler

Number of players: 5-10

How to play: Telephone Pictionary is a mash-up of two familiar games: telephone and Pictionary. Each person playing will need a pen and a stack of paper stapled together to make a little booklet. (Each booklet should contain as many sheets of paper as there are people playing the game. For example, if there are 8 players, each person receives 8 pieces of paper for a total of 64 pieces for all players). Get everyone sitting in a circle. To start the game, each person thinks of a phrase and writes it on the first page of the booklet. Then each player passes his or her booklet to the left so each player is now holding a new booklet. After silently reading the phrase, each player folds back the top page of the booklet so the phrase is no longer visible. On the blank piece of paper now at the top, each player draws a picture, doing his or her best to make a visual of the phrase. The booklets get passed to the left again. Each player looks at the picture, folds the picture back and then writes a phrase describing what’s going on in the picture. The booklets are passed again and the game continues until each player gets back his or her original booklet. Each player takes turns reading/displaying his or her booklet to show the rest of the group how far (and hilariously) the drawings and phrases have strayed from the starting point.

9. Password

What you need to play: Paper and pens for all the players

Number of players: Minimum of 4 (even numbers only)

How to play: The host begins the game by writing a different word or phrase on 3 different slips of paper (for example, “blush”). These words will serve as the “passwords” throughout the game. Divide partygoers into even teams of two players each — each team will consist of one clue-giver and one clue-guesser at a time. The first clue-giver on the first team will give a one-word clue, attempting to communicate the password (for example, if the password is “blush,” the clue might be “makeup” or “rouge”). The clue-guesser has 60 seconds to come up with an answer, but can only guess one word at a time. If the first team guesses the password incorrectly, the opposing team gets a chance to guess the same password using a different clue word. Each team has 3 chances to guess the password. The first team to guess correctly wins.

10. Mafia

AKA: Assassin; Werewolf; Village

What you need to play: Your imagination

Number of players: 7-16

How to play: Begin by electing one player to be the narrator. The narrator (whose eyes remain open throughout the game) starts the game by instructing everyone to sit in a circle and close their eyes, then selects certain players to be members of the “Mafia” by silently tapping them on the shoulder (there should be 2 Mafia members for games with up to 7 players, 3 Mafia members for games with up to 10 players, 4 Mafia members for games with up to 10 players and 5 Mafia members for games with up to 16 players). The remaining players are known as the townspeople. Each game of Mafia is split into two phases: day and night.

During the night phases, players close their eyes while the Mafia members open theirs. Making eye contact, they collectively decide on one of the townspeople to “kill” by silently pointing. Once their decision has been made, they close their eyes and the narrator instructs everyone to open their eyes, beginning the day phase.

During the day phase, the narrator makes up a story about how the chosen player was “killed” — that player is now out of the game. The remaining townspeople then discuss the crime committed by the Mafia and must collectively decide on two players to accuse of the crime. The two chosen players must then stand before the townspeople and come up with an alibi, after which all players — including the Mafia — must collectively vote to execute one of the accused players, who is then eliminated from the game. The narrator then must announce whether the executed player was a Mafia member. The game continues until either all Mafia members or all townspeople have been executed.

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