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Great Party Games

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A party game in full swing

As the festive season rapidly approaches, you should be finalising your plans to ensure that your party goes with a swing. You've planned a small-scale affair, you have the food, the drink and the music sorted, but what about something to really get the party going? What party games have you got planned? You haven't? Oh dear...

Fear not, below you will find some inspired party games, suggested by the h2g2 Community, that will make any party swing...


Zoom! How can one say 'I don't want to play' to a game with a name like that?! It's really very simple. First of all, it is a drinking game for people of the legal drinking age. There are three words used in this game and they are

  • zoom
  • shwartz
  • pfigliano ('pah-fig-lee-ano')

There is no limit to the number of players. The players gather in a circle and the person selected to begin the game simply looks at any other player and says 'zoom'. The person who is 'zoomed' has three choices:

  1. He/she can look back at the 'zoomer' and say 'shwartz'
  2. look away (head down) and say 'pfigliano'
  3. look to another player and say 'zoom'

If the player chooses the latter, the 'zoom' goes to a new player and the cycle is repeated. Play can go on for quite some time between two people before one of the players either zooms someone else or just screws up. The object of the game is to keep the 'zoom' going. You screw up; you drink. Try it! It's so much fun once you get the hang of it. There is one thing to remember though - you can't zoom the zoomer!

How to Play Mau

The game should be played with maybe four players, only one or two of which need to know the rules (that's most of the fun, playing when you don't know the rules). There are three basic rules which the experienced player gives to the inexperienced ones at the start of the game.

  1. Play is much like UNO or Crazy Eights. Each person gets a five-card hand and plays cards down in a pile, matching either the number or the suit of the previous card. There are a few 'unknown' rules, though, and failing to perform certain actions is punishable by a card penalty.

  2. There is no talking during actual game play. If you want to talk, say 'pevo' (pronounced 'pee-vo'). Everyone puts down their cards and can express their problems and frustrations at not knowing the rules. To end the period, say 'Un-pevo'. Everyone picks up their hands and resumes play. There is no touching of the cards during Pevo. Touching the cards is punishable by a penalty, as is talking during normal game play.

  3. There is no 'telling of the rules' allowed. That is punishable by a penalty.

Now for the fun part of Mau: gameplay. Play continues clockwise from the dealer and lasts until someone discards all their cards in the middle. Playing cards with certain values, though, affects the game in different ways. Here are some examples of secret rules:

  • A penalty is a card given to a person to penalise their ignorance of the rules. Penalties are given by anyone who knows the rule; an 'incorrect penalty' deserves a penalty in itself. Simply hand a card to a player and say, 'Failure to lick nose' or 'Talking' (during game play). The person receiving the penalty must say 'thank you' - failure to say thank you is another penalty.

  • Playing 'card X' reverses the order of play. Instead of continuing clockwise, play goes counterclockwise. 'Failure to play' and 'Playing out of turn' are common penalties encountered here.

  • When a person plays 'card Y', he must say 'Have a nice day'. (He takes no penalties for talking - incorrect penalty!) If he is playing 'card Y' on top of a card with a similar value, he must say 'Have a very nice day' or 'very, very nice day'.

  • When you play a card in 'suit Z', you must say the value of that card. For example, I play the 'Y of Zs' on top of the 'Y of As'. I announce, 'Y of Zs. Have a very nice day'.

Confused? Good, that's the whole fun of Mau! These are only a few rules. You can make up your own or have Mau brain-storming sessions where everyone comes up with a rule of his own.This game is more fun with people you know well, so play it at family reunions or holiday parties. Have fun, play nice and don't tell all the rules.


All the players should sit in a circle. The basic idea is to go round the circle, counting upwards from 1. The loser is the person who says '21'. To start, the first player says 'To my left (or right, depending what direction they want to go in), one'. The player on their left then says '2', and so on. However, if a player says two consecutive numbers, ie '3, 4' the direction is reversed. If a player says three consecutive numbers, play continues in the same direction, but skips a player. So a typical four-player game might go:

  • Player 1 - To my right, 1
  • Player 4 - 2, 3
  • Player 1 - 4, 5, 6
  • Player 3 - 7, 8
  • Player 2 - 9
  • Player 1 - 10

... and so on, if the players were numbered in a clockwise direction.

If (or when!) someone makes a mistake - speaking at the wrong time, hesitating, or saying the wrong thing - the game starts over. The player who fouled up should get a forfeit of some kind. The player who last said a number (correctly) should re-start the game at 1.

When you finally get to 21, the player to say '21' gets a forfeit - usually a drinking penalty. They also make up a new 'rule', which replaces one of the numbers. For example, 7 could become 'fish', in which case the sequence would be '... 5, 6, fish, 8, ...' or it could become an action, like 'touch the floor' or 'run to the bar and back'.

The game ends when everyone is well and truly fed up with it.

A Variant of this Game.

The idea is to pretend you are driving a car.

  • Vroom is the standard sound that just keeps the game going
  • dyyt (The sound of a horn) means skip a person
  • Eeeeh (Sound of sudden breaking) means change direction

Then there is the accident... One person says 'crash', the next says 'bang', the third 'babu' and the fourth 'babu' (ambulance siren sound). During this latter stage it is not possible to change direction or skip anybody. Whenever anybody makes a mistake he or she is out of the game and the last person to do it right starts the game off again. The last person left is the winner.


This is a game most suited for groups of ten or more. It works best if most of the people know each other at least a little bit.

A circle of chairs (no armrests, please) is arranged, the chairs close together. There should be one less than the number of players.

Everybody sits down except a selected person in the middle who gets a scarf or similar tied over the eyes. Volunteers (there are always plenty of those) are allowed to turn the person around until certain he or she has no sense of direction left. In the meantime, the rest of the group is changing chairs at random. The volunteers also sit down and the game begins. The person in the middle has to try and find where people are sitting and sit down on the knees of somebody. He or she might require a little help - no talking - to avoid sitting halfway between two people. No other form of touching is allowed. Sitting there on the knees and with the back turned to the person sitting in the chair the conversation runs as follows:

  • A - Mis-mis?
  • B - Miau..

(B is the person sitting in the chair).

Mis-mis is a sound/word used in Denmark for calling a cat you do not know. A similar call in another language will work just as well. The point is that the person answering will try to change his or her voice as much as possible when saying 'miau' (the Danish way of writing the sound the cat makes). Person A now has to guess who he/she is sitting on (remember - one try only). If they name the correct person, then B has to be the person in the middle. If it is the wrong answer, A has to try again from the point of being turned around.

We used to play this game as kids, but we called it 'Squeak Piggy Squeak'. Same rules, but person A would say 'Squeak Piggy Squeak' and person B would make pig type squealing noises.

The Book Game

Fun for the whole family, or at least all those who can enjoy a good book.

Each person should choose a book from the shelves, hopefully providing a mix of familiar and obscure volumes. One player commences by reading the title of their book and any 'blurb' from the dust jacket. Everyone then writes down on a piece of paper what they think the first line of the book might be. Whoever read out their title writes down the actual first line of the book and collects in all the papers.

They then read out all the offerings and each player votes for the first line they find most believable. A point is awarded to a player for each vote his or her first line receives. Anyone who votes for the actual first line also receives a point. Bonus points are available for comical entries.

One of the Easiest Games Ever

'Fuzzy Duck' is best played when fairly inebriated.

Sitting in a circle, an initiator says 'Fuzzy Duck'. The person to their left says 'Fuzzy Duck' and so on until somebody says 'Does He?'. The direction reverses and the person to the right says 'Ducky Fuzz' until somebody says 'Does He?'. In which case the direction reverses again and you go back to saying 'Fuzzy Duck'. This inevitably results in people getting tongue-tied and coming out with risqué spoonerisms. When a person gets it wrong they have to drink a pre-decided amount, thus making them more drunk and more likely to get it wrong again. Laugh as they enter a vicious circle and try and avoid it yourself.

Four People on a Couch

This is a game for two teams of four (any two equal teams will do, but four seems traditional) and it is best played in a lounge, since you'll have a couch there. The aim of the game is to get all four team members sat on the couch. As well as this there should be five other seats, so that a vague circle is formed and eight bits of paper, with the players' names written on them. The teams sit alternately, leaving one empty seat. Then the pieces of paper are passed out; one each.

Now the game begins. The player to the left of the empty seat calls out a name. Whoever has that name moves to the empty seat and swaps name with the player who called the name. This is then repeated. The trick to winning is obviously to try to get your team on the couch and the other team off and pass the play to someone else on your team - not easy when trying to keep track of whose name is whose.

This game should probably not be combined with the consumption of too much alcohol. At least not if you want it to actually end.

The Name Game

Divide yourselves into two roughly equal teams. Each player then writes a name on a piece of paper (best if the name belongs to either a famous person or a famous character). Do not show the name to anyone else, but hand them all in to a co-ordinator who reads them all out. It's probably best if this person isn't playing, otherwise he or she should try not to recognise the handwriting.

The teams take turns at trying to connect a player from the other team with the name (they would say something like, 'Amy, are you Al Capone?'). If the guess is correct, then that player changes teams. The team then gets another guess. Please note that you are not allowed to 'guess' at someone whose name has already been revealed on the first guess, but you may on subsequent goes. So what happens is that when a team gets one right, they also call over anyone who has already been 'unmasked'. Clear? Good. The winning team is the one that gets all the players. So everyone's on the winning side, how nice. Those players who don't get guessed can show off, though.

Music Videos

For this you will need:

  • A TV with at least one music channel.
  • A CD player and a selection of seriously hard rock, or lots of gothy music.
  • Lots of drunk friends who will find this funny.
The aim is to find a video for a really soppy bit of pop music - we found Nelly Furtardo's 'I'm like a bird' then quickly hit the mute button as the music starts, and slam on something scary. We found a nice Marylin Manson song.
The effect in the end is fantastic. Especially when drunk. Why Marylin Manson wastes his time creating those nightmarish scenarios is beyond me, seeing Nelly sing it against an idyllic country background is way more disturbing...


Twister is the ultimate party game. For those who aren't familiar with it, the game consists of a plastic mat with a grid of coloured spots printed onto it, and a spinner, which randomly selects a corresponding colour and body part (leg, hand, left and right). The spinner is spun, and the people playing must do as the spinner tells them (eg, put left hand on red). If you fall over or touch the floor you are out.

Of course, the main fun of the game comes from being in close proximity to other people and then falling on top of them... It's even funnier (though more difficult) when drunk.


This has to be played in a big house, at night and with all the lights off.

One person is the witch, and they go and conceal themselves somewhere in the house. Everybody else has to split up then walk, silently, around the house. They have to murmur/whisper 'Where are you witch?' so it can only just be heard if they are standing next to the witch's hiding place. This is because the witch then screams to indicate they have found you.

Please note, the object of the game is not to burst people's ear drums, but rather just to scare them silly, so a little common sense is required. Once the witch has been found then the witch and the finder (now also a witch) must move location and hide again. Do this as quietly as possible. As the number of witches increases, the screaming gets louder and hiding gets harder.

The aim is to get everybody turned into a witch with everybody winning except the last person to be screamed at by everybody. of course, in the dark it is a bit difficult to know if you have found everybody. You might want to count people before you start!

An alternate version of the game involves on extra person who has a torch and if they catch anyone in its beam then that person has to sit out in a specified room. It is then a competition between the torch holder and the first witch to see who can catch the most people. The torch holder normally has to have some kind of restriction unless the house is massive or this won't work (ie, has to hold torch in mouth, have legs tied together, can't leave the north side of the house, etc).

This game can be played outside if you are in remote enough area and is great at Halloween.

Who Am I?

For this game you will need some slips of paper. On each of which you write the name of a famous figure, like say Marilyn Monroe, Donald Duck, Mozart, Godzilla, Lieschen Müller or George W Bush for example. These slips are tagged to the people at the party, so that everybody can read the name except the person wearing the tag.

Throughout the party everybody's task is to guess who he or she is by asking the other guests questions about oneself. The only answers allowed are yes, no or maybe, though.

After everybody has identified themselves they may or may not act like if they were the persons on the tags. You may even provide with some costumes...

You can play this by allowing each person to choose who someone else is - ie write the name on their bit of paper. If you're really cruel, you can make someone be themself. You'd be surprised how difficult it is to guess...

Flippo Kissing

A flippo is a small round piece of cardboard, included in a bag of crisps, with a picture of a Loonytune or a Pokémon drawn on both sides.

You hold the flippo to your lips, and breathe in, so that it sticks to your lips, and so that it remains there when you let it go. You turn to the next person in line, who, in return, has to put his/her mouth to the flippo, and breathing in as well. The first person can then release his breath, thus passing on the flippo to the mouth of the second person. Since this action, when performed without the flippo, is generally referred to as kissing, the game is called 'flippo kissing'. This, of course, can lead to hilarious situations when the first person releases the flippo too soon...

The Triangle Game

This works best in a medium size group where only one or two people know the game.

A person starts by saying 'This triangle goes from x to y to z'. Basically, x, y and z may be anything - people, places, random objects, whatever you want. The rest of the group have to guess which member of the group the triangle belongs to.

This is the fun part of the game, as guesses will be run along the lines of anything from, 'well a corner of the triangle is Aberdeen, so-and-so is from Aberdeen, so it must be their triangle' to 'well, the second corner of the triangle has the same number of letters as so-and-so's name, so it must be their triangle'.

In fact the rule is very simple: the triangle belongs to whoever guesses first!

The Zoo

A list of animals is made that is half the number of people playing. Every player draws the name of an animal from a hat (or other suitable receptacle), and returns it so that the opposite sex can then do likewise. Everyone gets down on their hands and knees, the lights are turned out and everyone makes their respective animal noises. When you find your partner you swap clothes (lights out saves any embarrassing underwear!). However, the first couple to compete their swap, leaps up and turns the lights on.

I don't suit a crop top and I know that the leggings I wore look more like tracksuit trousers but hell, it's all part of growing up!

Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire is one of many playing card-based games. A deck of cards is scattered liberally over the floor and everyone gathers around. All of the cards are given a value, for example:

  • 7 as the 'Loo Card' - you can't go to the loo unless you have a 7
  • Ace - swap clothes with the person to your left
  • King - toast someone, anyone

If you pick up a card and fail to do what it requires you have to drink.

Pin the ahem on the erm

I've heard of disreputable parties where filthy minded persons played adult versions of pin the tail on the donkey. Only it wasn't a tail, or a donkey. It was an 'ahem' and Robbie Williams.

Well, a picture of Robbie...

Chaos and Confusion

What happens is this.

  • Arthur approaches Belinda, and they introduce themselves and shake hands. They then swap names.

  • Arthur (now Belinda) shakes hands with Colin. Now Colin is to call himself Belinda, and Arthur is Colin. Belinda (now Arthur) shakes hands with Deborah. Deborah is now Arthur, and Belinda is now Deborah.

  • And so on.

When a player gets her own name back (by shaking hands with someone who has their name) they sit out. Hopefully, everyone should finish up with their own name, but remember that one mistake will stop it from working.


Balderdash is simple, fun, and lets everyone get involved. You'll need a dictionary, paper, and pencils and around 5-10 people, so at a big party you could make several groups.

Each player gets a pad of paper and a pencil. One player gets the dictionary as well. The player with the dictionary finds a difficult word, and tells it to everyone. Each player then writes down what they think is the correct definition, while the person who found the word writes down the dictionary definition. Then, the player with the dictionary collects all the definitions and reads them. Players try to guess which is the correct definition.

You get one point for guessing the correct definition, and one point for each player your definition fools.

Swap-a-Gear Party

Now, this style is preferable when you have a party where most of the guests don't know the others, like in a large shared flat. There you usually end up with several small groups each of which belongs to one of the invitors. In order to get these groups to mix and have some fun have a swap-a-gear party.

The start is to get all the guests to wear stuff which they'd be willing to swap away. Like last year's fashion which you never liked anyway, the stuff you got from your (grand)parents last Christmas, the stuff that shrunk in the washing machine and similar. Make sure that the invitation says that one is encouraged (but not forced to) swap the gear at the party. This also makes the guests wear silly stuff, which lightens the atmosphere.

Now, supply a sufficient amount of booze and people will start swapping gear. At first this will involve jumpers but then things move on to trousers and t-shirts. The huge advantage of these parties is that people have little inhibitions in starting to talk to someone they don't know. 'Hey, cool shirt! Wanna swap?' comes easily.


You need a deck of cards (or two, but one is easier) and at least three people. However, if you get more than 8 or 9 people playing, each person has only a few cards.

Shuffle the cards, and deal them out as evenly as possible to each player. Pick someone to go first. They should look through their cards and put down all the twos they have, saying how many they're putting down. For example, if they have three twos, they put them face down and say 'Three twos'. The next person (it helps if you're sitting in a circle) puts down all their threes, and so on. (After Kings, do Aces, then twos again).

If you don't have any of the number you are supposed to put down, you can fake it. You can put down a three and a four and say 'Two fours'. Or two threes, or a King and a ten... you get the idea. But keep a straight face. If someone thinks you're bluffing, they can call out 'Bull!'. The cards you put down are turned over. If you were bluffing, you have to take all the cards in the pile back (even the ones you didn't put down). But if you were telling the truth, the bull caller has to take all the cards.

The object of the game is to get rid of all your cards first, and it can take a while.

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