Parlour Games, Charades
*updated 2019

Do you cringe when someone yells  “Let’s play Charades”?  The best defense is a good offense so find some games from the following list you’d prefer to play. Once you’re launched into a game, it’s hard to quit, and all ages can play.  Parlor games are great after-dinner activities when everyone gathers for the holidays.

Alphabets ~ Grab a pencil and paper for every player.  Write the alphabet vertically in a column.  One player opens a book and selects a sentence at random.  Write the first 26 letters of the sentence vertically in a column next to the alphabet, so that you end up with 26 pairs of initials.  Working silently each player tries to think of a famous person for each set of initials.  When time is up, each player identifies whom he has for each pair of initials.  10 points are awarded if no one else had the same person, 5 if they did.  Whoever has the most points wins.

Camouflage ~ Take 10 ordinary objects such as a paper clip, penny, pencil, safety pin etc. and place them around the room in plain sight, but camouflaged.   For example, put a yellow pencil between 2 yellow books, a safety pin placed on a silver tray.  Give everyone a list of the items.  They must not make a sound when they “spy” an item, just note where it is.  The first player to see all 10 items and correctly reveal them, wins.  No touching!

Lookabout ~ This is a simpler version of Camouflage.  Hide only one object that is shown to everyone before the game starts.  This object is hidden with part of it revealed (i.e., a dollar bill is placed inside a framed photograph with only the corner of the bill peeping out from behind the picture). There is no touching allowed, and the first person to spot the hidden item wins.

Geography~ Choose a geographic category depending on the ages of your players and the degree of difficulty the group can handle. For example, you can choose countries, or cities, towns, mountains, lakes and so forth. The first player chooses a place within the category.  The next player begins with the last letter of the name used by the previous player and must find a place that starts with that letter.  And so on…If a player is stumped after three minutes, he drops out and the competition goes on.  Boston ~ New Orleans ~ Seattle…

Scavenger Hunt ~ You know the drill.  Every player gets a list of items they must find and bring back to home base.  The first player or team to bring everything back wins.  A new twist, especially on a vacation, makes the game more sophisticated and possibly even educational.  Take a photograph of twenty items of interest in your town or in your vacation area (all within a mile).  Download these photographs on a sheet of paper and distribute this visual list to each team.  Allow two hours for each team to utilize their cell phone cameras or digital cameras to reproduce as many items as they can find.  The team with the most discoveries or the fastest team, with a microchip to prove it, wins!

Sardines ~ This is a reverse on the old classic, Hide and Seek.  All the players close their eyes and count to 30 while one player (the Sardine) hides.  Then the other players search.  When one of the players finds the Sardine, he quietly joins the Sardine in the hiding place.  Slowly the hiding place will become more and more cramped with hiders.

Try playing it in the dark!  All lights in the house are turned off and all shades pulled down.  The house should be pitch-black dark.  For safety’s sake, you may want to remove breakables from tabletops and shelves and you might consider making second floors and basements off limits.  All players wander around feeling their way through the house in search of the Sardine, who has hidden.   Because of the lack of light, a simple place is often the best. Whenever a player finds the Sardine, the player joins in hiding from the others.  Eventually there will be only one player looking for the rest.  The game continues until the last person finds the group and all the Sardines are packed!

Wink Wink Murder~ This game is best played with at least six players sitting around a table or in a room conversing.  In each round of play, participants pick folded pieces of paper out of a hat, one of which secretly identifies a lone player as the “killer.”  The killer “murders” other players by making eye contact and winking at them surreptitiously.   If a player is winked at, he feigns death and is out of the game.  Other players are not allowed to wink, and the object of the killer is to murder as many people as possible without being noticed – murder them all without being caught and you are the winner!

Grandmother’s Trunk~  “I packed my grandmother’s trunk and in it I put a_____(name an object).  Each player takes a turn completing that statement,  first by repeating all the previous objects, and then adding one of her own to the end of the list.  If she omits something on the list she’s out.  Last player wins.

Murder in the Dark ~ Pick cards from a deck of cards equaling the number of players.  There must be one Ace and one King.  Deal one card to each player.  The player who receives the Ace is the murderer, and the player who receives the King is the detective.  The detective announces his position but the murderer keeps his role a secret.  The detective turns out all the lights.   You should not be able to see a thing.  The role of the murderer is to silently “kill” their victim by tapping the player on the shoulder.  If you are tapped, wait a few seconds and then scream before falling to the ground. Once the scream is heard, all players except for the murderer must freeze.  At the scream, the detective turns on the lights.  All players still “alive” are lined up for questioning.  The detective then questions each player (i.e. Where were you when someone screamed, did you see anyone move after the murder, who do you think is the murderer and why? etc.)  All players must tell the truth EXCEPT for the murderer.  When the detective has enough information and feels ready to solve the case, he says, “Final Accusation” and asks one person, “Are you the murderer?” This is the only time the murderer must tell the truth.

Botticelli ~ One player (the chooser) is selected to think of a famous person. This person should be someone the chooser is comfortable answering biographical questions about, and someone the chooser is very confident that the other players will all have heard of; obscure choices make for frustrating game play, especially with young players. The rule of thumb is that the person should be at least as famous or well-known as Sandro Botticelli, hence the name of the game. Fictional characters are acceptable, but can present certain difficulties. If agreed upon ahead of time, non-famous choices the entire group is familiar with are okay.

The chooser then announces the initial letter of the name by which the person is usually known; for non-fictional characters, this is usually the last name. For example, if the chooser chose Sandro Botticelli, then the initial letter would be B.  When answering questions about his or her identity, the chooser assumes the identity of their choice.  Game is over when the identity is guessed.

Have fun!!

Need a few more ideas? Try these,

“Life is more fun if you play games” Roald Dahl