A list of the most entertaining party games.
By The Masala Team
You’ve scrubbed your floors, vacuumed for the first time since your last house party, bought the snacks, or for the overachievers, made them yourself. You’ve curated a collection of cocktails or mocktails, and have spent the last few weeks putting together the perfect party playlist. However, your guests have arrived, and after the introductions, they’re awkwardly bobbing their heads to ABBA and sipping furiously at their drinks to avoid small talk. Your palms are sweating. How do you make sure this bash doesn’t turn into a dine-and-dash? With these four party games, that’ll keep your guests coming back for more.
For the theatre kids or those who love a good debate, this one’s for you!
Number of players: 5+
Materials required: From a standard deck of cards: one Queen, one King, one Ace for every four players, and however many non-royal cards needed to ensure each player has a card
Pick a person to be the mayor of the town – they’ll sit out of the game but act as an all-seeing ‘narrator’ figure. Ideally, pick your friend with the most flair for the dramatic. Hand out one card to each player, facedown. Players check their cards privately: a Queen is a doctor, a King is a cop, an Ace is the mafia, and all other cards are regular citizens. The aim of the mafia is to ‘kill’ as many of the other players as possible without suspicion. Everyone else’s aim is to root out the murderer(s) in the group without punishing the wrong person. The mayor has full control over night and day – when they say it’s night, players close their eyes and don’t speak.
At night, the mayor calls out an assigned role to ‘wake up’ and perform a task before falling back ‘asleep.’ First, the mafia pick their target. If there is more than one mafia, they have to agree. Next, the doctor saves either another citizen or themselves by pointing at them. Finally, the cop investigates a fellow citizen – they point at them and the mayor nods or shakes their head accordingly. When it’s day, the mayor gives a dramatic retelling of the night before that ends in either murder or attempted murder thwarted by the doctor. The citizens then discuss who among them is the mafia. The cop and doctor may choose to reveal their roles here (but can’t show their cards). Finally, the citizens pick two people to prosecute. The accused have a chance to defend themselves and the citizens vote on whom to give the death penalty to. Night falls again, and the game continues, and so on. The citizens win if all the mafia have been executed, while the mafia win if there is only one citizen and one mafia left in the game. If you’ve ever dreamed of bluffing your way into joining a shadowy organisation, now is your time to shine!
For extra fun, add your own variations! Add a seance to speak to the dead, or a drunk who swaps cards…the possibilities are endless.
Higher or Lower
If you find yourself in the company of a particularly boisterous crowd, the ideal drinking game to separate the lily-livered from the pros is – hands down – Higher Or Lower.
Number of players: 4-8
Materials required: Standard 52 pack of playing cards, booze
Pick someone (preferably your most sober guest, if you’ve got one) to be the dealer. The dealer then starts off by shuffling and laying a standard deck of cards face down on a table. Six cards on the bottom. Five cards on the next row. Four cards on the row above that. And so on until the top row has a single card. It should look somewhat pyramid shaped. The dealer then flips the furthest card on the left hand side of the bottom row. Our first plucky contestant then has to guess whether or not the next card along will be of higher or lower value, before the dealer then flips it over. If they’re wrong, they drink. If they’re correct, the shot passes onto the next person- on top of that card’s own shot of booze. If players keep guessing their cards right, the shots keep piling up. That is, until a very unfortunate player blows the streak and is forced to drink all of the combined liquor.
Who says that being glued to your screen at a party is anti-social? Or that lying is bad?
Number of players: 3+
Materials required: Smart phones and an internet connection.
Ask your guests to download Ellen’s app Psych! ahead of the party to save some time. Once you’re all in the game and have chosen how many rounds you’d like to play, the app generates an unfinished statement for you to complete. Get creative! The weirder, the better. Once you’ve submitted your answer, and heckled the laggards until they’ve done the same, the app presents all of the answers mixed in with the single, right answer. You must now choose the correct option. If you get it right, you earn two points. For each player who chooses your answer, you receive an additional point. Of course, this means that if they fool you with their answer, they get a point, too. The person with the most points wins! For this game, you must hone both your bluffing skills, as well as your ability to parse the truth from a plethora of lies.
React and Act
Number of players: 4+
Materials required: Paper, pens, and a bucket or bag
Begin by having everyone note down some events on small sheets of paper. Don’t share them with each other but be as creative as possible, e.g. being attacked by a shark while fishing, realising you won the lottery, or spotting an aunty while you’re on a date. Fold up the sheets and put them in a bucket or bag. One player stands up and picks out an event. They then must act out their reaction in 30 seconds using exaggerated gestures, facial expressions and their voice. While this happens, others must guess what the individual is reacting to. The player acting receives a point if someone correctly guesses their event. The winner is the player at the end with the most points.
Want to mix it up? Try this game with no talking, only noises. If you’re looking to get boozey, have players take a sip of their drink for each wrong guess they make. For larger groups, split into teams to heat up the competition. For example, have representatives from both act out the same event but only one can win a point for best acting.