How to Save A Boring Evening

Be the Best Host Ever…by breaking out these crowd favorites

Sarah Cy
Sarah Cy
Mar 3, 2018 · 7 min read
Ylanite Koppens

You’ve got a group of folks over for a house gathering, a holiday get-together, or some other obligatory party.

Only problem is, everyone’s standing around, sipping unidentified liquids and making mind-numbing small-talk while waiting for the turkey or lasagna or haggis or whatever is still cooking in the oven.

Good grief — What is the point of having people over when all they’re going to do is stand there like petrified lampposts?

How can you, as the host, fix or avoid something that’s turning out to be an incredibly dull evening?

Its easy. In one word: Games!

Games promote laughter and bonding, even among strangers. Within a few moments, cautious strangers become fast friends just by playing a game like Apples to Apples or Mafia.

Whether you are having houseguests over or trying to liven up a new group, starting with a game is a great idea to get the synergy going and the laughter flowing.

Below are some suggestions:

Games that encourage teamwork


The famous word game where teams have to guess what word a teammate has, but the teammate is not allowed to describe the word using certain other obvious clue words.

For instance, if the word to guess is “brilliant,” you may not use the related words “sun, light, intelligent, or ‘Sarah Cy’” to describe it ;)

What’s on my forehead?*

This one is a bit of the opposite of Taboo:

One team writes a word on a sticky note and puts it on the forehead of the opposite team’s player.

Then that person must ask yes/no questions of his/her teammates to guess what the word on their forehead is. To make it more fun, limit the number of questions the person can ask, or the number of guesses he/she can make.

“Is it big?”


“Can I eat it?”


“Is it poisonous?”


“How can I eat it if it’s poisonous?”

“I never said you’d survive…Also, that’s not a yes/no question. Try again!”

Name those songs!*

Teams have to come up with as many songs as possible that include a specific word in the lyrics.

For instance, for the word “love,” you could list “Can You Feel the LOVE Tonight?” or “God Bless America.” Yes, the word “love” appears in this song: “God bless America, land that I LOVE…”

(Don’t use the word “love” by the way. It’s far too easy. Intesad, try something interesting, but not too interesting. I’m pretty sure there are not many odes written about “hubcaps” playing on the radio…or playing anywhere, for that matter)

One twist: you can make the losers sing one of the songs on their list (or all of them. Whichever you prefer)


Games that stretch the brain


There are so many ways you can play this game-that-comes-in-a-banana (well, not a literal one. Just a banana-lookalike pouch).

You can play as individuals or as teams. Give points like you do with Scrabble, use a timer, etc. The sky is the limit! Or, rather…the letters you have in your banana.


Colors and numbers and threes-in-a-row. This game rewards those who see patterns and are quick on the uptake.


If you’ve got a lot of time (maybe you’ve finished eating the turkey or lasagna or haggis or whatever was in the stove, and have moved past dessert but no one wants to leave yet), you can break out a game of Monopoly.

This property-acquiring game will delight those among you who are interested in becoming the next Real Estate mogul, or anyone who likes accumulating troves of plastic houses and paper money.

Chinese Checkers

The ole’ classic game with red and black or blue and purple or polka dotted and striped round pieces that jump over each other and steal each other’s pieces (actually, I’m not sure about those last two color combos, but if anyone knows of them, send me a link!) can become a team game played by up to 6 in Chinese Checkers!

It’s the same concept, only with a star-shaped board and even more colors. And it’s quicker than Monopoly. A great game to play if the mysterious-thing-in-the-oven only needs another fifteen-twenty minutes before it’s ready.


The ultimate strategic survival game. If you like to lie through your teeth and feel great satisfaction in tricking your friends or accusing random folks of murder, this is a good game for you.

The rules are a bit complicated, so read this to find out how to play.

There are also many variations of this game (besides the Mafia, Sheriff, and Doctor roles, you can also throw in an Angel, Cupid, Wizard, and more), so you can play it with a small or a large crowd.


Games that guarantee giggles


This game is particularly fun to play when you have people over who are not professional artists.

“What is that? A UFO? A pizza?…Oh wait, no, I got it, it’s your face! Am I right?”

“…it’s a hubcap, doofus.”

Apples to Apples

Another silly game that will have everyone in stitches, this game involves every player throwing down cards that match a theme card.

Besides generating some pretty ludicrous pairings, some of the matches can be rather…revealing…about certain players’ unorthodox perspectives…


Like pictionary, this is a great game to play if you don’t have professional actors/mimes among you (or even if you do, why not?)

“Okay, okay, I’ve got one for you to act out: ‘A tree that’s flying to China.’”

“Got it. A tree that’s…what?”

(True story, by the way)


Another silly word game where strategic words are left out, and replaced with their part of speech (adjective, noun, etc), and players can blindly volunteer their own words (that are, of course, the same part of speech), to create a masterpiece of epic proportions:

So, for instance:

Are you looking for a/n ADJECTIVE NOUN? Well, have we got a NOUN for you! Next TIME, remember to bring your FAMILIAL RELATIVE to our LOCATION to select your very own ADJECTIVE NOUN!


Are you looking for a MALODOROUS IGUANA? Well, have we got a HUBCAP for you! Next FRIDAY THE 13TH, remember to bring your SECOND-COUSIN-THRICE-REMOVED to our UNDERWATER GROTTO to select your very own THREE-LEGGED TOOTH FAIRY!

You can buy the actual Madlibs, or make up your own version, if you are gifted in the area of writing excerpts with great potential.

(If not, feel free to hire me to make you some personalized Madlibs. I am obviously brilliant at coming up with these —see “Taboo” above ;D)

Pictionary Telephone*

Why play boring ole’ Telephone when you can play Pictionary Telephone?

Here’s how:

  • Everyone starts out with a rectangle of paper. The host picks a theme (for instance: Movies), and each person writes a related item on the top of the paper (Eg: Horton Hears a Who, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, etc), and then passes it to the person sitting to their right.
  • That person must draw a picture based on the phrase on the top of the page (an elephant? A tomato?). When they’re done, they fold the paper so that the next person can only see the picture, not the writing. Then they pass the paper along to the person on their right.
  • The third person must translate the drawing back into writing (…Dumbo?…Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs?), then fold the paper so that the next person can only see his/her writing, and not the picture or the writing before that.
  • And so on and so forth, until the paper reaches the last person (before the original writer) and that person must then guess what the original word-phrase was, based on the final picture.
wikimedia commons


Of course, several of the games recommended above can fall into multiple categories.

Pictionary is not just good for giggles, it’s also a team game. Taboo can definitely generate lots of belly laughs. And all games stretch the brain, really.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what game you play. The only requirement is to have fun, enjoy each others’ company, and make the party a smashing success!

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