An unfortunate truth about dinner parties is that they can either be fantastically fun and engaging experiences, or horrendously awkward and uncomfortable. Unfortunately there is no middle ground, so you need a solid arsenal of games in order to break the ice and keep the fun flowing. If you want people coming back for seconds, get everybody laughing together with one of these dinner party games…
Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity is not for the politically correct. In fact, it is intentionally offensive… which makes it the best game ever. To begin, each player gets a stack of white cards that contain nouns or phrases. Players then take turns being the ‘card czar’. The card czar will draw a single black card which has a question or ‘fill in the blank’ on it. Each player then submits one of their white cards to answer the question and the card czar picks whichever one they deem to be the best. The magic is in the absurd and racy content on the cards. For example, the question card might be “What’s the new fad diet?”, and people will submit answers like “Eating the last known bison,” “Puppies!,” or “Man meat,” (all of which are real cards). It gets even more R-rated from there. Download the free PDF here.
Popularized by Ellen Degeneres, Heads Up! requires a one dollar app purchase on your phone or tablet, and then hours of gaming pleasure await you. The first player holds the phone to their forehead, and the app will display the name of a celebrity or a word. The second player then has to describe that thing without saying its name or rhyming. The first player has to guess who it is, all while comically holding a phone against their head. The clock is ticking, though, so you have to be quick!
This one is better for people who already know each other reasonably well. It’s very simple, and can provide a lot of laughs. Go around the table and try to give each person a new name. Have you always thought your friend Daniel looks like more of a Bertrand? Tell him! He might get mildly insulted but, hey, nothing breaks the ice like a little indignation! Get even more creative and give people new last names, too.
Sticky Forehead Game (La Louisine, as seen in Inglorious Bastards)
This classic is similar to the above game, but with a slower pace for those more subdued dinners. Each player writes the name of a historical figure or celebrity on a sticky note, and attaches it to the forehead of the person next to them without letting them see it. Players then take turns asking the group ‘yes or no’ questions in order to narrow it down and guess who their character is.
This game is also pretty quiet, but with a big finale. Pass a piece of paper around the table. Each person writes two lines of a story, then folds the paper over, showing only the last line. When you get the paper, all you can take your cue from is the one line preceding yours. It’s kind of like broken telephone, but with a narrative. At the end, the person with the most dramatic speaking voice reads the entire, disjointed, absurd story and everybody laughs and becomes the best of friends.
Keep these in your back pocket and you’ll never have another dull dinner party. If ever there’s a lull in conversation, or you just want to liven things up, break out one of these games and keep the awkwardness at bay.