Dinner parties can be stressful to organise. Between cooking and keeping your home presentable, you have to keep the dinner lively and entertaining. Having a few games to play at the table can be handy for these moments.
Having a few games on standby can remedy your dinner, when conversation starts to run out or guests don’t seem to be gelling. Games help you stay confident and in control of your dinner’s agenda.
Any games to play at the table should be kept as simple to set up as possible. That’s why the games I’ve chosen are played mainly with paper and pen instead of board games. Let’s find out what these games are.
Who Am I?
Write the name of a famous person on a Post-It note and stick this to the forehead of a chosen player, making sure they can’t see it. This player takes it in turns asking the group yes/no questions to guess the name, for example, ‘Am I alive? Am I a celebrity?’ If they get a ‘yes,’ they can ask another question to the person who answered ‘yes’; if ‘no’, they need to turn to another player for a question. Make sure there’s no cheating going on by clearing the room of any mirrors and covering any shiny surfaces.
After this person’s name has been guessed, the game restarts with a new player and a new name. Keep the game going until everyone has had their turn.
You will need a deck of 52 playing cards and spoons (but one less than the number of diners you have). Gameplay can get really hectic so make sure you remove any glassware and china from the table.
Put all the spoons in the middle of the table, then deal out four cards per player. The dealer takes the top card from the deck, then discards a card from their hand, passing it to the player on their left. This player takes the card and discards one from their hand, and so on. The round keeps going until a player has four of a kind. When they do, they must grab a spoon. As soon as they do, everyone else must grab a spoon too – whoever doesn’t get one is out of the game. Before resuming the game, make sure to remove a spoon from the pile.
Two Truths and a Lie
This game is another way for your guests to get to know each other. Select three players for this game. Each person writes down two real personal facts and one that isn’t (the lie). Each then takes it in turns to read out their cards for everyone to guess the lie. After the lies are revealed, guests get the chance to share more about the truths.
You will need a large bowl, paper and pens for this game and act as the referee/score master for this game. Each person puts 10 names on bits of paper into the bowl. Names can include celebrities and fictional characters.
Split everyone into pairs or small groups. In the first round, players have 60 seconds to describe as many names in the bowl as they can to the rest of their teammates. Keep going until their time is up and tally up names guessed correctly. Round two is played using Charades, and round three by describing the names using one word only.
Great Minds Think Alike
If you like weird games to play at the table, this one can satisfy your urge. Give everyone strips of paper and the same coloured pen. Pick a person to ask a question for everyone to scribble down an answer. Collect the answers and jumble them up.
The goal of the game is to match each answer to other people in the group; each correct match wins a point. Questions can be anything from the superhero powers you want to have, a famous person you’d like to meet, who in the group they’d like to kiss – the more weird the question, the better!
You need six to ten players for effective play and a set of index cards with a letter written on one side each: M for murderer, D for detective and V for victim. There should be one M, one D and plenty of V. Shuffle them in the hat, then get everyone to draw a card, making sure no one shows their card to anybody.
If you’re the murderer, the game begins when you “kill” someone by giving them a subtle wink. If the player chosen is the victim, they must die by laying their head on the tabletop. The detective needs to work out quickly who the murderer is before everyone is killed. The game ends either when the murderer is caught or when everyone is dead.
Who Said That?
This game takes a bit of advanced planning and relies on your guests having Facebook accounts. If you’re the host, take some time going through their profiles to find weird status updates from years ago. If your guests don’t post statuses, then look for something strange they might’ve posted on their feed. Type these out (leaving off the names), print them and have everyone at the dinner guess who wrote what.
You will need strips of paper, two notepads and pens. Ask everyone to write ten phrases, objects, nouns, and people, etc, then mix up their papers in a bowl. Split everyone into pairs or equal teams.
Against the clock, in rounds of 30 seconds, one player from the first team must help their team guess the word drawn from the bowl, using drawing it only, no speaking. The team who gets the most answers correct out of a series of rounds is the winner.
Drinking Jenga is a group drinking game if you’re in need of risky games to play at the table. There’s a bit of preparation needed in advance of the game. Get yourself a Jenga set and write on each block a one-line instruction using a marker pen. At your dinner, assemble the Jenga tower as you would for a normal game. Each person takes it in turn to pull a block from the tower while making sure it doesn’t topple over.
Whatever instruction is written, they must do as it asks, e.g. everyone take a drink; tell a secret; do five pushups. Not every task needs to be be drink-related. Make sure everyone also pours a bit of their drink into a communal pint glass. Whoever topples the tower has to drink the communal glass.
Make A Rule
Before dinner is served, let your guests know there are a number of rules tonight that can’t be broken. These can be anything from ‘not using first names’, ‘not pouring a drink without saying the host’s name three times’, ‘not cutting up food with the fork in their left hand’ (or right hand if they’re left handed).
It’s important any games to play at the table don’t involve too many rules or people won’t play them. And that’s true of this game, where the number of rules can get out of hand. Try to stick to between three or five. Anytime someone breaks a rule, they have to do an embarrassing forfeit.
Divide your diners into groups of two, Draw a lyric word from a hat and give your teams up to three minutes to compile as many song titles as they can that includes this word. At the end of the three minutes, let each team read out their list. Points are awarded to each correct title.
Teams can also earn extra points for every additional song they came up with over their competition. If one team came up with six songs and the second team with eight songs, then the second team wins 2 extra points (8-6=2). Keep Google on standby if your want to check the song titles are legitimate.
Never Have I Ever
You will be the question master for this game. Get everyone to hold up their hand, then say to them “Never have I ever…” Finish this statement with with something they have never done, for example, used a typewriter, had sex on the beach, walked around naked at home. If someone has done it, they hold up one finger; if no one has, you hold up a finger. The first person with all five fingers up is out of the game.
There are lot of balls to juggle when organising any dinner party. Having a few games to play at the table can keep your guests entertained long after the food is over. You also get to create an unforgettable dinner party.