Warm Up a Party With These Icebreaker Games

Friends laughing while sitting on a couch at a party

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Icebreakers are party games designed to help people relax and get to know one another. Some are silly, some are a little embarrassing, and others are merely informative. If chosen correctly, icebreakers can be a powerful tool to facilitate the success of an event.

When Are Icebreaker Games Appropriate?

Icebreaker games work for social settings, as well as business-related events. When choosing an icebreaker, think about the personality of your group and your intentions for the game.

For instance, if you're planning a networking event for work, select an informative icebreaker that gives people a chance to share their skills. Similarly, if you're trying to help colleagues work together on a project, play a team-building icebreaker game, such as a group scavenger hunt.

In social settings, icebreakers can be a little looser and lighthearted. A baby shower often benefits from such a game, as many guests might not know each other well. So pick an icebreaker where everyone should feel comfortable getting involved, such as identifying baby photos of famous people. Likewise, at a family reunion, distant family members might be meeting for the first time, knowing little about one another. An icebreaker game that allows guests to share some personal fun facts can help build familial intimacy.

Icebreaker Game Ideas

Here are some examples of icebreaker games for various events:

  • A business function: Ask participants to pair up with someone they don't know and learn as much as they can about each other in five minutes. Then, have them introduce each other to the whole group, being sure to mention at least one interesting fact they learned about the person.
  • A group orientation: Give each person a penny, and ask them to introduce themselves and talk about what they were doing during the year on the coin. If you can't find pennies appropriate for the age range of your group, simply write down years on slips of paper to hand out.
  • A work or social cocktail party: Tape the name of a famous person on everyone's backs. As people socialize, they should ask for clues about their famous person. The first person to guess the name on their back wins a prize.
  • A bridal or baby shower: The clothespin game is an easy icebreaker to work into a bridal or baby shower. To play, the organizer hands out clothespins (or safety pins) to all guests when they arrive. At that time, let them know the "forbidden word." The word should have something to do with the event's theme, such as honeymoon, cake, diaper, or delivery. If a guest catches someone using this word, they win that person's clothespin. The guest who has the most clothespins at the end of the party wins.
  • Any social celebration: Human bingo is an informative icebreaker that's fit for most social gatherings. The organizer fills out a grid (like a bingo card) or list with various personal characteristics, such as "speaks multiple languages," "has traveled to at least five countries," or "hates cilantro." Then, have guests go around and collect signatures from people who match those characteristics. The first person to fill out their entire card (or whoever gets the most signatures) wins.

At first, people might turn up their noses at an icebreaker game. But once you take the lead and show guests you're not afraid to be a little silly or reveal a bit of personal information, everyone tends to loosen up.