Making New Year's More than Ryan Seacrest
By Jason Boyett and Ryan Hamm
December 28, 2009
It’s almost New Year's. You’re hosting a party (or going to one with a shaky host) and you want to do more than just say, “OK everyone, put down your egg nog and watch Ryan Seacrest in Times Square as we watch a glowing sphere fall down a pole.” Honestly, does anyone really get that excited about that?
So this year, it’s time to step it up. Entertain your friends in ways beyond serving bad appetizers and cheap drinks (though both of those have their place) and pressing “play” on an iTunes playlist marked “party.” Monumental celebrations don’t just happen.
Fortunately, that’s where we come in. Here are some cheap party games that are certain to amuse even the dullest of guests. Few preparations are needed, and the more players the better.
The Question Game
How is this game played? Exactly. Gather all players into a circle. Make sure everyone is positioned so they can turn to face the players to their immediate left and right.
How it's played: Choose a starting player. The first player (Player 1) turns to his right and asks the person next to him (Player 2) a question—any question. Player 2 does not answer the question she was just asked. Instead, she turns to the player to her right (Player 3) and asks a different question. The questioners must look directly into the eyes of the person they're asking. The object of the game is to not get “out." A player is out if they do any of the following:
1) Answer the question asked of them even if it's in the form of another question. 2) Laugh, giggle, snort or fail in any way to maintain complete seriousness. 3) Fail to immediately continue the rapid-fire chain of questions. 4) Make a statement instead of a question. 5) Repeat a question asked previously in the game.
Other rules: When you're "out," you are removed from the circle. The last two remaining players ask questions back and forth of each other. There is no minimum or maximum length for questions.
Sample play: Player 1 to Player 2: "What is the average rainfall of the Amazon basin?" Player 2 to Player 3: "What time were you born?" Player 3 to Player 4: "Does this look infected?" Player 4: "Bwa-hahahahahal" (Player 4 is out.)
Once you get the hang of it, add this fun variation to the mix: Instead of kicking a player out when she breaks the rules, make her answer the question truthfully.
Use a camera with an automatic self-timer. Gather your friends into a circle.
How it's played: Set the automatic timer on the camera, then start passing it around the circle. Each person must take the camera, point it toward themselves at arm's length (however briefly), then pass it on to the person on their right. Keep playing, pointing, and passing until the timer goes off and the camera flashes. Whoever is holding the camera when it goes off is "out." Laugh heartily, play until a single winner remains, then post all the pictures on Facebook. Laugh some more.A fun variation is to play in a dark or slightly dimmed room, where the camera flash will further disorient the frantic participants. If you want your camera to survive for more than one game, lay down some ground rules—hand-to-hand passing only, no throwing, no dropping.
Stating the Obvious
For a group of party guests who are unfamiliar with each other, "Stating the Obvious" is a great icebreaker game. Gather everyone into a circle.
How it's played: Choose an opening player. That player must stand in the middle of the circle. and submit to three rounds of "observations." In order, every one in the circle gets to make a statement about the person in the center.
Round 1. Each player makes a statement starting with "It's obvious that ...” The sentence must end with something verifiable, such as, "It's obvious that you have a fu-manchu." The participant in the center cannot respond.
Round 2: Each person makes an observation starting with "I assume that ... " The completed sentence must be linked to an observable fact. For example, "Since you're sporting a fu-manchu, I assume you lost a bet." Again, the participant is not allowed to respond.
Round 3: Each person begins "I imagine you ... " Based on previous observations, the outside players can form outrageous speculations about the participant, such as, "Because of your facial hair, I imagine you are a huge fan of Waffle House." The participant, at this point, can answer true or false.
Take turns being the one on the hot seat. You'll enjoy hearing how you're perceived. And from the standpoint of the players in the circle, it's fun to see just how intuitive we can be about people we don't know By the end of the game, everyone will have learned something interesting about one another.
Homemade Apples to Apples: 2000s edition
Apples to Apples can be the worst game ever if you don’t play with the right people or if you don’t know the stuff on the cards. So why not forgo the awkward possibility and make your own version—especially for 2010. This one requires some prep: When everyone comes in the door, have everyone write down five celebrity figures from the past 10 years. These can range from Barack Obama to Tila Tequila.
Then have them write down three cultural terms from the past decade—it can be a phrase, an adjective, or a made up word we use all the time now. Something like “Googled” or “Yes We Can” or “The Twitterverse.”
How it’s played: Distribute a set number (depending on how many guests you have) of the celebrity papers to everyone playing. The questioner picks up one of the cultural term cards and everyone chooses the celebrity they think best fits the term. The winner of the round is selected by the person who read the term card. The overall winner is the person who won the most rounds of the game.
Just make sure to keep it creative—like the real Apples to Apples, nothing kills a game faster than boring celebrities or monotonous terms.
Now you’re all set to host your very own hit New Year’s Eve party. With the aid of these games, some good music and, fine, a little Ryan Seacrest, you’re ready to wave goodbye to the past decade and greet 2010 with open arms.
Portions of this article originally appeared in the RELEVANT book Cheap Ways To ... .