Have you ever organised a dinner party where you’ve regretted not having a few ice breaker activities to hand? The atmosphere between guests has suddenly gone quiet and nobody is gelling at all.
Then there are those times you’re invited a variety of people in your life to dinner, but only a few are familiar with each other. What do you do then, when no one dares to speak or keeps looking to you to save them?
I’ve found it’s not enough to be a party planner, you’ve got to be it all. The host, the server, the party security and the “conversation fluffer”, you know?
These days, I rely on these little ice breaker activities to get the ball going on group bonding. People like party games, they’re a great distraction and break the mood. And if you assign someone in your group you know is good with people, you can leave them to manage the game so you can do everything else.
These Partycurrent gems are simply to set up, don’t need any props, and are easy to explain quickly to the party person helping you out. After the games are over, your guests can bond a little more easily. Let’s go!
Your Ice Breaker Activities
Guess Who Did What
Give everyone five minutes to jot down three personal facts about themselves. They don’t have to write much – a sentence or two is fine. Tear the lists into strips (each fact being one strip), and jumble in a bag, then make sure everyone gets three strips each.
Players take it in turns to read out their strips, leaving the rest of the group to guess their owners.
Of course, the weirder the stories, the more fun your game will be. Memorable gems I once heard included: I had a tree planted in my name; I know how to drive a combine harvester; I once lived in a former morgue.
Storytelling and ice breaker activities are perfect for each other.
Before playing, take a pack of blank cards, and number each from 1 to 40 on one side only – so the first card is 1, the second is 2, etc.
Under each number, write in the name of an object to go with it. So the first card will have 1 on it, and an object like “dragon” underneath; card 2 can be “boat” Keep a list of all 40 objects, to help you keep track. Once done, shuffle your deck.
Now, when asking players to choose a card, make sure the cards are face down, so they can see only the blank side.
Choose the first player and ask them to pick a card. This player now talk about their ‘life’ as though they are the object on the card – without saying what it is. It’s up to everyone else to guess.
The first person who does gets a point. The person with the most points wins. Once guessed, the next player takes their go.
Need rousing ice breaker activities? Life Drama has it all, with its focus on acting and every day life. Right before your party starts, write out a list of 15-20 real life scenarios. Tear your list into strips and add to a bowl.
Split everyone into two equal teams. On ‘Go’, the first player of each collects the same scenario from you. The rest of their team must guess.
This is a game of sounds; no actor is allowed to speak. The first team to complete the list wins. Some example scenarios to get you started could be:You miss the bus; you have an argument on your cell phone; your shopping bag breaks and all your food falls out; you tread in dog doo.
Never Have I Ever
To play, get everyone seated and holding up ten fingers.
One person says something that she’s never done in her life, but suspects some players have, by saying “Never have I ever [the something]” – for example, “Never have I ever drunk tequila”. Everyone who has drunk tequila must lower a finger.
The last player with fingers still raised wins. Everyone gets to share their stories afterwards.
Create a pack of bingo cards a few days before your dinner, with each set of cards made up of 25 squares. Instead of a number, fill each square with an activity a person might have done, such as:
- Has traveled around the world
- Knows how to bake a cake from scratch
- Is about to change their lifestyle
- Goes clubbing once a week
- Doesn’t like indie music
Everyone gets a card and now works the room, finding people to match the activities. When a person is found, write their name in the relevant square. The first player to fill a row (across or diagonally) or has the most filled squares wins.
For a more intimate version of this game, fill each square instead with facts a person might have in their life. Finding out who has sisters, has lived in more than five houses, knows how to drive automatic and manual, are some example facts you could use.
This is a sweetheart of ice breaker activities, where people are encouraged to share the things they love.
Before playing, empty a packet of M&Ms or Skittles into a bowl. Everyone will need at least five pieces, so make sure you have enough. On a separate sheet of paper, write down what each color means. These could be:
- Yellow – Last movie seen and what you thought
- Red – Most memorable vacation
- Green – One thing you love about your job
- Orange – Favorite food you love to eat
- Blue – One stressful thing in your life you wish you could improve
- Purple – One life goal you’re working on
Pin up the list up for everyone to see, or keep it to yourself and play question master.
The game can also be played in two ways. Either everyone gets a piece of candy each, before they each share a story; or as soon as a color is picked, the story is shared on the spot
Candy should also only be eaten after the person has shared, not before, so make sure everyone knows that. To also keep the game fair, have players pick candy with their eyes closed. If a person picks the same color as in the first round, this means they get to share more about their previous story.
Having a few ice breaker activities on hand for dinner parties will ensure your guests leave the night happy and also well-socialised. You will get bonus points for being the best host, in the way you bring complete strangers together. I hope at least one of these games brings you this success.