Guest blogger Coach Kim shares her favorite games to break that ice at parties.

Guest blogger Kim Lombardi is the Playworks Program Associate in Chicago, IL office. Before joining the Illinois team to help launch programming in Chicago Public Schools this year, she was a program coordinator for two years in San Francisco. She thinks games are appropriate anywhere–including the office.

Since I started working for Playworks three years ago, I often find myself trying to insert games into nearly every social situation. Recent examples of this include playing a round of "Up, Down, Stop, Go" with three kids who looked bored at a bridal shower, and forcing my friends to act out Celebrity Charades during a dinner party. Sometimes, I find myself at get-togethers where I only know a handful of people, and I leave the party having only talked to that same handful the entire night. Even though I would love to have a solid reason to interact with the party guests I don’t know, it might be odd if I suddenly announced to a roomful of strangers, “Hey everybody! You don’t have any idea who I am, but we are going to play a game!”

Let’s face it, making small talk at parties is uncomfortable for a lot of people. Icebreaker games are a perfect way to bust through initial awkwardness and get guests mingling. As the host, it’s your goal to show everyone a good time and what better way to do that then to start the party with games so your guests get to know one another better?

Here are four icebreakers that are perfect for getting any party started. These games are appropriate for both children and adults and can be played at kids’ birthday parties, backyard BBQs, graduation celebrations . . . wherever!

  1. The Lucky Penny Game – In a circle, have everyone take out a coin (or provide one for them) and look at the year on it. Take turns going around the room to share something spectacular or interesting that happened that year.
  2. Superstar – In pairs, find as many things you and your partner have in common in one minute. Then form a circle and go around the circle taking turns introducing each other and you have in common. Then anyone in the circle who shares that commonality puts their hands in the air, lunges forward and yells “SUPERSTAR!” all together (a la Mary Catherine Gallagher from the Saturday Night Live skit).
  3. Two Truths & A Lie – Give everyone a couple minutes to think of two facts and one lie about themselves. Take turns sharing those three things without telling which are facts and which is a lie. Everyone else’s job is to guess which of the three is a lie. For example, “ 1) I once ate frog legs. 2) My birthday falls on Leap Day. 3) My cat can open the back door.”
  4. Partner to Partner – With some room to move around, everyone stands up. One leader will call out “partner to partner” and everyone must find someone else to stand next to. Then the leader calls out different commands such as “knee to knee,” “back to back,” “shoulder to shoulder,” “thumb to thumb,” “elbow to elbow,” and the partners must take those positions accordingly. If the leader says “partner to partner again,” everyone must find a new person. (Bonus: ask partners to answer a fun question, such as “If you could live in an TV show, what would it be?”)

What Icebreaker Games do you like to play?

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