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11 party games and jokes for team building

By Darby Jones

Icebreakers are fun party games that help people become acquainted and feel comfortable with each other. They are great for communication training and team building.

Consider using these at your next youth event, church retreat or leadership training. Youthful attitudes required! Here are some great ways to get the event started.

1. Viral videos galore! 
Break out the tissues because tears of laughter will surely flow. Ask group members with smartphones to look up their favorite funny viral video and share it. This can be a very spirited team builder. One caveat: doing this in a nice restaurant may get your group thrown out or meals brought more quickly. You might share the videos with other people in the restaurant so everyone gets the joke. It could be a great introduction to your church.

2. Uh-oh … are those eggs cooked? 
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. Instead of the egg, you may use a small rubber ball. In this case, the object of the game is to put the ball on the ground without it bouncing too high or rolling off.

3. Horror film
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. “Oops! Where did that thing roll off to?”

4. Balloon-wacker swagger
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.  See 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.

5. 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. Be sure to get video footage or photographs to spread via social media. Ask friends or followers to vote on their favorite face.

6. 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!

7. A cappella (Italian for “in the manner of the church”) karaoke
Select popular songs by age group. Each guest sings three to seven lines from the chorus, and his or her partner tries to sing the last line.

8. 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.

9. Abstractions
The leader thinks of someone in the room who is playing the game. The other players take turns asking questions of an abstract nature to figure out the mystery person's identity.

1. What animal comes to mind?
2. What personality trait?
3. What kind of music or instrument do you think of?

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.

10 Ha!
The object is to keep from laughing. The players face each other in a circle. One player 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 of the game. Start over once a player is out. The players who are out of the game try to make those who are still in the game laugh. The player who laughs the last is the winner.

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 whistles if they want. 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.

Here are a couple others to check out:

Safety first
It is important to note that any icebreaker involving direct contact should be exercised with extreme caution. The leader should tell everyone up front not to pressure those who do not want to participate. 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 from the sidelines. 

For more ideas, Google “fun icebreakers.”  Think about the characters in your group and what games would work. You’ll have to weed through a bunch of lame games, but after scouring for a few hours, you’ll have a month of Sundays worth of priceless good times.

--Darby Jones, eMarketing specialist, United Methodist Communications.

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