11 fun party games and jokes to improve team building
After scouring the web for hours and weeding through a bunch of mindless nonsense, I've curated a fine list of necessary nonsense that will help your team form lasting bonds.
Youthful attitudes are required, but in the end, don't make any of this mandatory. Besides, you'll need some cheerleaders on the side to — if nothing else — capture the magic and post on Facebook. Who knows, maybe you'll get a viral video out of it. That brings us to our first icebreaker.
1. Viral videos galore!
Break out the tissues because tears of laughter will flow. Ask group members with smartphones to look up their favorite funny viral video and share it. Simple. Easy. Fun! One caveat: doing this in a nice restaurant may get your group thrown out or meals brought more quickly. It all depends on how you play it. You might share the videos with other people in the restaurant so everyone gets the joke. To get the ball rolling, here are a few of my personal favorites — handpicked with the help of my twins, Finn and Fiona:
- Who wants to get crazy?
- Stick the knife in sissy
- Dancy pants
- Bye bye dress code
- Sleepy head
- Getting political
2. Rubber face
Give each participant a mirror to practice making the funniest face imaginable. Challenge them to teach that face to others until everyone can mimic to perfection. If you need inspiration, watch Jimmy Fallon's "Face Off" with Ricky Gervais! Be sure to get video footage or photographs, so you can spread the love and ask friends or followers to vote on their favorites. Now go practice your best duck face and sprinkle in a little stink eye for good measure.
3. Who's feeling brave?
Give each participant an egg. Explain that one egg is uncooked, and the others are hard-boiled. Tell each player to break an egg against his or her forehead. Explain that the player who gets the uncooked egg is the "bravest." The joke, however, is that all eggs are hardboiled. Give the prize to the last player because he or she deliberately ran risks to become the laughing-stock. You can always pretend you forgot the uncooked egg. “Where did that thing roll off to?”
4. Ball-between-foreheads race!
I challenge you to come up with a better name. Teams of two people hold a big ball between their foreheads. The first pair to reach the finish line without dropping the ball wins. (One of the players in each pair runs backwards). Alternatively, pairs can hold a ball between their shoulders, ears or backs.
5. Humpty Dumpty race
Partners stand back to back. Place an egg between their backs. The first team to put the egg on the ground without breaking it wins. You can use a hard-boiled egg if you don't want a mess. To avoid PETA suing you for cooking Humpty Dumpty, you can use a small rubber ball instead. In this case, the object of the game is to put the ball on the ground without it bouncing too high or rolling off.
6. A cappella karaoke
Select popular songs by age group. Each person sings three to seven lines from the chorus, and his or her partner tries to sing the last line. Points may be given by remembering all the words, singing the correct melody or singing so bad that there's actual entertainment value. Everybody "wins."
7. What makes you weird?
“What kind of question is that?” you might ask. It’s a fun one. So let’s play. Ask each person to state what makes him or her weird. It’s important to qualify this get‑to‑know‑me game by letting participants know silly statements garner more points. Don’t be shy! You can continue this game by asking more weird questions. Some fodder to get the creative juices flowing:
- What makes me weird?
- Do Siamese twins pay for one or two tickets?
- What do you do when you see an endangered animal that is eating an endangered plant?
- If an ambulance is on its way to save someone, and runs over someone, does it stop to help?
- If a mime is arrested, do they tell him he has a right to talk?
- If vampires can’t see their reflections, why is their hair always so nice and neat?
- What comes to mind when you hear the word squeegee?
- Why does caregiver and caretaker mean the same thing?
- What's another word for thesaurus?
- What is Satan’s last name?
- If God sneezes, what should you say?
Talk amongst yourselves.
The leader thinks of someone in the room who is playing the game. All the players, including the person of interest, take turns asking questions of an abstract nature to figure out the mystery person's identity.
- What animal do they remind you of?
- What type of fruit comes to mind?
- What genre of music are they?
- The Beatles or the Stones?
The leader answers and after everyone has had a chance to ask a question, the group huddles and has one chance to guess the right person. If the group gets it wrong, the leader reveals the abstraction. The more interesting the questions, the more fun the players will have.
9. Bobbling balloons
Think of it as a dance. You’ll need three inflated balloons per person and a stopwatch. Each person gets one balloon. Place the rest in a pile nearby. Everyone gets close together and begins bouncing their balloons in the air. Dance moves while bouncing are not required, but encouraged. Every few seconds, add another balloon. You can keep score by the number of balloons added or by how long the group can keep the balloons bouncing. Players are penalized when a balloon hits the floor. When this happens, shout the number of penalties procured. Keep the cumulative score. The game ends when the team gets five penalties. Players can play another round with the group trying to better its record.
The object is to keep from laughing while being completely ridiculous at the same time. Players face each other in a circle. One person says, "Ha!” The next one says, "Ha-ha!” The third continues, "Ha-ha-ha!” If someone speaks the wrong number of "has" or laughs, he or she is out. Start over at that point. The player who laughs last is the winner. Combine this game with your best rubber face and you'll quickly have yourself a new tradition.
11. Willow in the wind
Do this activity with at least seven people. Have the group stand in a circle with their shoulders touching. One person, the faller, stands in the middle, with his or her eyes closed, arms crossed, body stiff and feet planted. The rest of the group forms a tight circle in a sturdy stance. The outside circle group members have both of their hands up and ready at chest level. Before falling, the faller should always ask the group if they’re ready, to which the group should always assuredly respond. The faller may fall any way he or she likes. The rest of the group will gently change the faller’s direction by easing the fall and sending the person in another direction. Remind participants that the more hands on the faller, the safer he or she will feel. Ask group members to remain quiet and focus all attention on the faller. The group can make gentle breeze sounds so long as they can keep the deadpan going without laughing. If the group breaks concentration, it’s a good idea for the leader to say “stop.” At this point the faller opens his or her eyes, and the group eases the faller back up to a stance.
Another great party game that get's an honorable mention is Mafia. Check it out, have fun and remember ...
Any icebreaker involving direct contact should be exercised with extreme caution. The leader should tell everyone up front not to pressurize. Encourage participation, but if someone is not comfortable, just drop it and let him or her know it is OK. They can watch and encourage others.
For more ideas, check out Icebreakers and fun games for kids and youth. Also, Google “fun icebreakers." Think about the characters in your group and what games would work. You’ll have to weed through a bunch of boring games, but in the end, your efforts will surely raise the exhilaration level of the universe. Now go forth and play for love and glory!
— Darby Jones, eMarketing Manager, United Methodist Communications. Darby enjoys playing games so much that he had twins (Finn & Fiona) as a part of his master plan to never ever grow up.