When you have a company picnic or outing, part of the planning includes deciding what games to play during the event. After all, you have to have games at a company event. It’s inhuman and un-American not to.
But what to pick? Not everyone likes board games or cards, and those can be impractical (table top space, only so many players, potential for gambling and embezzlement, etc.).
Karaoke isn’t a no, but you’ll need more to do (especially if literally no one in your company can sing). How to have fun, involve everybody, and have the party end with smiles and good memories?
Picking the right games is one key to a memorable, relaxing, enjoyable company get-together, and this blog will give you twenty-four of them.
1. 2 Truths, 1 Lie
Think of it as Jimmy Fallon’s “Box of Lies” sketch minus the boxes and celebrities. Everyone on staff must make three statements about themselves—two of them true, one a lie. Then, everyone else must guess which the lie is.
You can do this in several ways: Have everyone guess and the first person to get it right gets a point. Or, break into teams and have the other team all come to a consensus on the statement, and they get a point if they get it right. Repeat for each person on each team. Whoever gets the most points wins.
2. Belly Balloon Break
Get everyone in pairs and set a timer for however many seconds or minutes is reasonable (probably no more than two minutes). This requires balloons, obviously, and they must be inflated! Each pair must pop as many balloons as they can, using only their chests and bellies. Whoever pops the most in the allotted time is the winner.
3. Guess Who!
Write the names of famous people on Post-Its and attach one to every person. Throughout the party, encourage your employees to interact with each other as if they are that person, to help them guess who they are.
You can play this a couple ways: Have the first accurate guesser be the winner, or let it play out until the end of the party to make things really interesting (people are permitted to stop treating fellow partygoers like Kim Kardashian and Emily Blunt once they guess who they are).
4. Noah’s Ark
There may not be a faster way, outside of any party serving alcohol, for grown adults to make fools of themselves than this game.
Write down names of animals on index cards, two cards per animal. Then, give each pair randomly to people (they must not know who has the other card!), and have them act out the mannerisms of their animal to find their “mate,” like in Noah’s Ark. They cannot speak, only make noises and gestures.
Turn your office into a zoo in no time flat!
5. Musical Chairs
The traditional favorite from your childhood is making a comeback! Set up chairs in a circle or row, one less than the number of your guests. Play the music while everyone chases each other in a circle and when the music stops, they all have to be seated. Whoever is left standing is out.
You can make it more challenging by removing a chair for every person who is out, until there’s only one chair left. Whoever sits on the remaining chair wins.
6. Coworker Trivia
Here’s a great way for people to get to know each other! Have each employee write down a few facts about themselves, along with their name. Collect them and shuffle.
Then, read out the list of facts and have everyone guess. As with 2 Truths, 1 Lie, you can have everyone do this individually or in teams. Whoever guesses the most correctly wins.
7. Wii Tournament
Your office ought to have a Wii. If it doesn’t, then hopefully you employ someone who does (or are big-hearted enough to buy one yourself, though you can find the original Wii on Amazon for less than $100).
Ideally, there should be one game among several or a station that people can rotate through. It will add a technological flair to your office party. Not at all be a bad idea!
8. Famous Lines
Nearly everyone in your office will watch movies, TV, or new media sources like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Take well-known but not cliché quotes from various shows and movies and ask people to guess the show or movie where they were said. You can even split people into teams and use buzzers, Hollywood-Game-Night style!
Whichever team gets the most points wins. You can give bonus points if they can correctly name the character and actor (and do try to throw some The Office quotes in, for good measure).
9. Name That Song
Play snippets of popular songs and have people guess which ones they are. Bonus points if they can name the artist and album, and double the points if they can finish the entire next part of the song (not just finish the line).
10. Guess Which Movie
Continuing with the movie theme, this combines charades and movie trivia. Write well-known movie titles on slips of paper and put them in a bowl. After mixing, have people get into pairs and pick a movie title.
They must then pick a scene from the movie and act it out with no dialogue (tricky if the scene is pivotal because of a perfect line!). Whoever guesses correctly then acts out their scene with their partner, and so on. The game is over when all the pairs have played. There isn’t really a winner for this one, but it’s still fun.
11. Scavenger Hunt
You played it at summer camp, and now you’re playing it at work! Have a list of items (ideally not office-related) hidden throughout the party venue and give each team a copy. In order to prevent ties, you may want to hide an odd number of items, as whoever finds the most things on the list wins the game.
12. What’s That Thing?!
Blindfolds and disgusting things in a bowl? Who doesn’t love that?! Put an assortment of strange-feeling things in a bowl—soft toys, squishy balls, gel-filled worms, and other items. Blindfold each employee and ask them to identify whatever their hand lands on. You can replenish the bowl, or finish them game when all the items have been identified or everyone’s had a turn.
13. Desk Thief
A variant on coworker trivia, this one involves stealing random items from certain employees’ desks and having everyone guess whose the items are. Ideally people will work together to do this. See how observant all of the employees really are!
If you haven’t smacked the living daylights out of a colorfully-decorated donkey waiting for its guts to burst open and rain candy and prizes, you haven’t yet lived.
The grown-up version can still include candy, but it might also be a good idea to put gift cards, five-dollar bills, fancier candy bars, movie vouchers, dollar-store knickknacks, even Keurig cups and rolls of quarters. Be creative!
15. Death by Winking
Designate one person as the murderer, one as the detective, and everyone else as victims. The murderer must kill random victims with a subtle and sneaky wink (the victims would do well to die immediately, and preferably dramatically).
The detective’s job is to identify the murderer, though obviously before the murderer has killed everyone, because then it will be too easy!
Get a giant rope and ideally find a muddy hillside! Divide everyone into teams and have them yank on the rope at opposite ends. Whichever team falls (preferably face-first into the mud) loses!
17. Left, Center, Right
This game involves an inexpensive set of dice you can get from Amazon or most toy stores. There are three die, one with an L (“Left”), another with a C (“Center”) and the third with an R (“Right”). The other three sides of each die have dots. The game is usually played with quarters or chips (three chips per player), but to make it more fun why not give each player three one dollar bills?
Each player rolls the dice and does at least one of the following: If the L or R lands face up, they pass one dollar to the player on their left or right. If the C is rolled, they put one dollar in the center pot. Dots have no effect. Players only roll the number of dice that matches how many dollars they’re holding; if someone has no dollars left they are still in the game because they could get dollars from the people beside them. They simply do not roll dice until they have dollars. The winner is the last player with dollars, who then wins the whole pot!
18. Guess Who's Job
Each employee writes down a funny, outrageous, or otherwise entertaining work-related story on a card. The boss or someone else can read all of them to the group, then they must guess who wrote which story.
Unbelievable or hilarious stories work best for this kind of game, as the goal is entertainment as well as getting to know each other better.
19. Couples Version of Who Am I?
This works exactly like the normal version, except you pair people into famous couples who must locate their other half.
But they must first find out who they are by only asking yes/no questions to other partygoers. Once they unlock their own identity, the partner will find itself (after all, you can see who everyone else is).
20. Follow the Leader
Designate someone as the leader (it can be more fun if you pick someone other than the boss or an administrator). Throughout the game, the players will have to copy all of his or her actions—so pick a brave person who isn’t afraid to be silly or crazy! This works best as an ice-breaking game, as there isn’t technically a winner.
You pick one person to be the “statue,” and at a random time in the course of the evening they must freeze in a statue pose (in the middle of whatever they were doing).
This works best if only you and they know when this will take place, otherwise everyone will be expecting it. As everyone else notices them becoming a statue, they must assume a frozen pose too (it does not have to be the same one). The last person to assume the position becomes the new statue, and so on throughout the night. This can be an easily hilarious game.
As with many of the other games on this list, Post-Its feature prominently. Break everyone into teams. Write down typical ingredients to a hamburger (though you may get creative if you like) and stick one on each player’s back or forehead (somewhere they can’t see it that will be easily visible to others).
Without each person knowing what ingredient they are, they must properly assemble themselves into a “hamburger”—in other words, line up in the proper order, from bottom to top bun. Whichever team assembles a gourmet burger first wins.
Pick a leader. Have them call out random behaviors or motions (“Walk!” “Scream!” “Sit!”). The players must do the precise opposite of whatever is called out (in other words, stand if told to sit, stay quiet if told to shout, etc.). This can get tricky if it goes on long—so anyone who does what they’re told is out! Last person still doing the opposite wins.
Ah, the old classic! Who doesn’t love an outing and a chance to shoot their boss with exploding balls of neon paint? This is especially fun if you have administrators against subordinates or different departments on opposing teams. Just be sure to take a picture of everyone covered in paint for the office lobby wall!
For games for your next holiday party, head this way.
Games are an important part of creating a memorable, enjoyable, and simply fun atmosphere. Which of these are you going to try at your next company party? Be sure to pick ones everyone can play and see if the bragging rights and banter don’t make your office a more pleasant place to be.
For team-building ideas that can double as games, click here.