Seeking party games for 11 year-olds plus their parents
October 27, 2017 6:07 AM   Subscribe

We are hosting a party tonight for a bunch of 11 year-olds plus their parents -- about 20 people total. We're looking for recommendations for group party games, puzzles, and other activities that will keep us entertained. We'd like activities we can all play together, rather than splitting up to play a bunch of separate table-top games. Think along the lines of charades, pictionary, maybe mafia, maybe some mystery sort of thing. Total party duration is about 3 hours, and will also include eating pizza.

This is a smart group with mixed levels of gaming experience. We can handle some complexity, but we also need to be able to teach and play tonight so nothing super complicated. We might be able to swing by an art supply or game store to pick up material in advance if needed, but the party is tonight so no extensive prep. This will be an indoor party in our 1400 square foot apartment.
posted by Winnie the Proust to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
One of my favorite party games is Celebrity. We usually play the first variant described, the one with three rounds.
posted by fancyoats at 6:15 AM on October 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

I love Telestrations, which you can play on your own without purchasing the game.

Sit in a circle. Each person has a paper and pen. They write down a word and pass it to the person on the left. That person has to draw the word. Now pass left again, but fold the paper in such a way that the person who receives it can only see the drawing and not the word. They have to write the word for what they see. Keep on going until it comes back to the originator.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:18 AM on October 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hi! I highly recommend you go to Target and buy Outburst!

Outburst is my favorite party game for all ages because everyone can participate, there's little waiting, there's a lot of exciting dramatic tension moments, and the scoring is done well. It allows individual members of the group to really shine, and have their moment of fame, but everyone still gets to participate. There's even a good built-in mechanic to "pass" to the other team, which is essential for trivia games to be fair. It was released in 2016 so many of the more pop-culture references are still valid. It does say 16+ on the box, but I imagine it's just because a bit of world knowledge is useful. The best part is that players can play from far away / different parts of the room, you can add players / drop players at any time with little/no impact to the game, and you can play as long/as short as you want!

While you are there, my second recommendation is One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which is a game a lot like mafia, except you don't have to "wait around" when you die, and nobody needs to narrate. It plays up to 13 or 14 players, and it uses an app (I use my iphone + bluetooth speaker) to narrate. The rules are pretty simple but the mind-games and complexity lead to a TON of fun.

If you want something a little more traditional, look up the rules to "fishbowl". It also goes by monikers and "times up!". You can play fishbowl with any number of teams, but for larger groups I recommend 2. It goes from taboo to charades over 3 rounds, and it becomes more of a memory game than an actual acting game, which is an amazing blend. Plus, the tension is high due to the round-based scoring.

If you really have a large group for a long time, I've heard good things about two rooms and a boom, which I did buy, but the occasion has never been perfect.

Edit on preview - Telestrations is excellent as well, should be at target. I would buy the big box, because while you can play with paper, using the dry erase things is much more fun and feels more structured.

And, Celebrities is the same game as fishbowl/monikers above!
posted by bbqturtle at 6:20 AM on October 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Apples to Apples is like cards against humanity for nonterrible people. Fun game for kids and adults alike.
posted by Sublimity at 6:22 AM on October 27, 2017 [9 favorites]

Edit to note, you can play one night ultimate warewolf with a deck of cards, a sharpie, and the free app if you'd like :)
posted by bbqturtle at 6:37 AM on October 27, 2017

Celebrity really is the perfect party game--all you need is pen, paper and two bowls to put the slips in. My only suggestion is to swap the charades and one-word rounds (so, the taboo round, the charades round, and the password round), which is how we play it.
posted by thecaddy at 6:43 AM on October 27, 2017

If you want dessert with the pizza, I have never had a "DIY cupcake bar" fail -- plain-frosted cupcakes and a boatload of bowls of candy and sprinkles and weird cake decorating whatnot like edible gold spray paint (tastes terrible wet, never quite dried on the frosting, still lots of fun). I have always done it with the kids in mind, but the adults really thrill to it. Offer a prize for most creative cupcake?

(If people are going to be too full, or if there will be eating cupcakes and competition cupcakes, a bag of small/med styrofoam bowls and a stapler = simple to-go cupcake carrier. A LOT of people of all ages seem to enjoy having one to eat and one to take home to show off.)
posted by kmennie at 6:46 AM on October 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Codenames is a great party game. We had it going at a party with 30-40 people. People played as they wished, and it went itself well to ebbs and.floes of the crowd .
posted by Ftsqg at 7:20 AM on October 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Headsup which is basically Charades and really fun! Within a medium sized group you can pair people off as teams. For a big group I also play it like this:

Everyone lines up in at least two lines. First person in line actually turns around to face the line. This is The Actor.

Second person in line is the one who the phone on their forehead. This is The Guesser.

Actor plays out what is on The Guesser's forehead. Once they guess correctly, they nod so that the game goes to the next card and then pass the phone to the person behind them. The Guesser becomes The Actor and person 3 becomes The Guesser.

It gets quite frantic with people trading places and pretty fun to see how many cards each team can get through in the allotted time.
posted by like_neon at 9:10 AM on October 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

20 is a high player count. You're not going to find a ton of things to accommodate that many people. Having said that:

Codenames is your answer. There is no game I have played more of in all settings since it came out due to its simplicity and universal appeal.

Telestrations is almost as good. I love me some Pictionary, but it can get heated/contentious, while Telestrations is just fun. As noted, it's just the commercial version of a game I learned as "eat poop you cat": . All you need is some paper and writing instruments.

I hate One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Hidden-role games have come a long way in the past decade; there are better options. Unfortunately I don't know of any that go up to 20 people.
posted by booooooze at 10:47 AM on October 27, 2017

Codnames is a good suggestion.

Left-Right-Center or Screw your neighbor: work well for all ages with my family. We've played with up to 20, I think, or close to that.
posted by dpx.mfx at 2:13 PM on October 27, 2017

Codenames, Celebrity, and Eat Poop You Cat are all great suggestions. Similar to EPYC is "Once Upon a Time" - similar mechanic, but instead of writing -> interpretive drawing -> interpretive writing, each person adds a sentence following along from the last one, without being able to see what came before that. For either that or EPYC I suggest having several sheets being passed around the group.

My absolute favorite party game is Chain Murder, a hybrid of telephone, charades and a murder mystery. Pick four volunteers as "detectives," send three from the room, then crowdsource suggestions for the murder victim/weapon/location (the more ridiculous the better). Bring in detective no. 2 and have detective no. 1 act out the murder until 2 thinks they've got it (very important: they do not make guesses out loud, only declare "got it" when they think they've figured it out.) Rinse and repeat with detectives 3 and 4. Once 4 thinks they've solved the murder, have all the detectives reveal their answers in reverse order. Guaranteed side-splitter whether you're an active participant or one of the hecklers in the audience.
posted by bettafish at 4:40 PM on October 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Line-Draw-Line (or Telephone Pictionary):

(edit: same as Eat Poop You Cat)
posted by girl Mark at 10:44 PM on October 27, 2017

Bettafish, I'm curious about your Once Upon A Time game- this is different than the commercial card game by that name? Is it like round robin storytelling, only with no one seeing the whole story from previous players? I'm trying to create an activity* based around this idea and this is the first i"ve heard of it being a 'blinded' party game.

*I have an "art" installation for small festivals that is based around Eat Poop You Cat, basically an asynchronous version that people play on rolls of paper as they walk by (and return later for results). I'm looking to develop one based on round robin storytelling. Very curious to see how it works 'blinded' like EPYC is played.
posted by girl Mark at 10:50 PM on October 27, 2017

I belatedly memailed girl Mark with a response, but for anyone following up on this thread in the future -- yes, the version of Once Upon a Time I know is like a round robin storyline, just one where each writer can only see the part that comes right before theirs.
posted by bettafish at 1:23 PM on December 9, 2017

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