Perfect Party Games

Part 1 - Fun Party Games for All Occasions

Do you find that all of your parties fall into a pattern with the same people talking with one another? Do you wish there were a way to make things a little more exciting and inject more humor into your gatherings? And do you find it difficult to get friends from different circumstances talking with one another? If your answer to these questions is yes, then Andrea Campbell believes she has the perfect solution for you: party games.

In this, her second book on the topic, Perfect Party Games (Sterling Publishing Co., 192 pp.), Campbell makes a very convincing case for the power of games to warm up a crowd. In her introduction to the chapter Pre-Party Games, Contests, and Icebreakers Campbell explains:

Pre-party action is usually needed while waiting for a larger group to assemble. It gives early arrivals something to do other than sit and wait, and it helps to keep them from feeling lost in a large room before others get there. Also, for people who are not acquainted, the pre-party contest creates a feeling of belonging.

Even if you don't consider yourself a "games" person, there's bound to be something here that will interest you. There are icebreaker games, pencil and paper games, quiet games, hunts, games for showers, relays and more. For each game category, Campbell explains the purpose behind this type of game, the challenges involved in the category and hints for making it a success.

The games are presented in an easy to follow format. After the name of each game you'll find information on: type of game; number of players; supplies required; formation; object of the game; play action; hints and tips; possible adaptations.

The title of this book is a bit deceptive. Only half of the book is devoted to the 100 game plans.

The remainder of the text is a detailed party planning guide with tips culled from Campbell's many years of entertaining. The book begins with her eight secrets for a successful party. For example:

Secret Number Eight - ZING! Zing! is the pop-up "Jack" in the crank-spun box, the plot twist at the end of the movie, and the rainbow at the end of the storm. It's a pleasant surprise or an unexpected delight in an otherwise predictable setting. Look for the Zing! factor for all your parties. You can achieve it through a clever use of theme that starts with the invitation. Maybe you have written the invitation on a balloon and the recipient must blow it up to discover the news...

Campbell proceeds to give several other illustrations for adding Zing! to your event.

Other useful information includes ways to cut back on party expenses, a list of items to keep on hand for a ready-to-play games box, a list of possible party themes, ways to set the mood for your party, creative ideas for tablescapes and much more.

The book concludes with practical strategies for dealing with party trouble such as drunken guests, hostility or other rude behavior.

Say guests begin arguing and it looks as though things might escalate. You have no choice but to quickly and calmly get these guests to leave. It is not up to you to apply a patch, or to allow the offenders time to work it out.

Campbell clearly enjoys sharing her experience with others and is dedicated to party games. She covers the basics of party planning and provides useful checklists to help you plan your own event. Follow the organizing steps and advice outlined in this book, select a few games to play and you will be well on your way to hosting a pretty perfect games party.

Andrea Campbell, author of Great Games for Great Parties and Perfect Party Games is a woman with many interests including primatology (the study of primates), criminal science and parties, of course! I was curious to learn how she became such an expert on party games and which game, out of the dozens in her books, was her favorite.

Entertaining Guide: Andrea, when did you first develop an interest in party games?

Andrea Campbell: When we left Ohio to start a new home in Arkansas way back in 1978, I suffered major culture shock. To remedy this loneliness, I enrolled in the community college and joined a citywide women's group called Beta Sigma Phi (BSP). They had two meetings and a social every month, including yearly benefits and special functions. I become one with the party planning committee and collected games, theme ideas, and notes on how to plan everything from rush parties to Super Bowl gigs, to the Valentine Ball -- a huge, open-to-the-public event.

Entertaining Guide: What is your favorite game and how many people does it work with?

Andrea Campbell: My favorite game is in my first book, Great Games for Great Parties, and it is called What's New? I'd say it would be successful with anywhere from 12 to 30 people. I love it because I get to isolate the guests as they arrive, and then when the game starts, I can sit back and laugh (I also take photographs of the action.) And that's it--there's not a whole lot of action but it always works!

And it doesn't matter if the people know each other or not. Here's how it works:

  • Name of Game: What's New?
  • # of Players: 12-30
  • Type:Pre-party
  • Supplies: Paper or index cards with items to be found. Ten to twelve or more small objects that can be hidden on guests. Transparent tape or safety pins to attach items. Pencils.
  • Formation: Guests circulate, examining others.
  • Object of the Game: To find the hidden items listed on the card, and write the guest's name beside each item as it is discovered.
  • Play action: As guests arrive, the leader calls them individually to another room, where a small object is pinned or taped to their person. Everyone is then given a list of the objects to be found and instructed to search for them among the guests.
  • Hints and tips: The objects should be in a place where they are visible, yet difficult to see right away. Hide items on socks, almost under collars, on cuffs of pants, in patterned fabric, at belt buckles, in hair.... This is fun because it gets people moving around and looking at each other. Try 5 minutes or less if your guests are observant. Sample list of items: jingle bell; key; rose; button; clothespin; colored bead; diaper pin; Boy Scout badge; clothes label; peppermint pipe cleaner; holly berries; miniature plastic dinosaur; small toy car; miniature cowboy boot; feather.

Entertaining Guide: Are there any social situations or groups where you feel games would not work?

Andrea Campbell: I haven't found any yet. And I have conducted games with varied groups, believe me.

Even with the elderly, who love games by the way, there is always something to do.

Entertaining Guide: If a group of friends have never tried a games party before, how would you suggest they plan their first party?

Andrea Campbell: By reading my books! Seriously, there is some effort that goes into a games party and planning is the penultimate task. But, if you read through the simple outlines and suggestions I give, it will tell you EVERYTHING. I have left nothing out. Also, I think it's important that a party giver remember: parties are for people! If you plan out your games, gather supplies, get an enthusiastic assistant, run-through the leader steps in your mind, have cool prizes, and handle people with love, games parties are the best event ever! They are more fun than almost anything I can think of.

People really do need to "play like children" sometimes. I think that today we get so busy, we forget how to have fun. If you throw a games party, I can guarantee your friends will be loose, happy, and chattering by evening's end. It's really a sure thing if only you will prepare.