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family reunion games

by Shawni

Ok, I’ve been meaning to write this post ever since I posted about how to create an awesome family reunion back HERE. (And I’ve also had a bunch of requests for the game portion.)

Because GAMES are one of the things we love most about family reunions, right?

What a great way to get everyone interacting and involved!

And of course, these games aren’t just for family reunions. Any time there’s a large group gathered, whether it’s a birthday party, New Year’s Eve, looking for something fun to do on a weekend, it’s always good to have some good game ideas up your sleeve!

So here we go, and be sure to get to the very last one because I saved my personal favorite for the end:)

GAMES FOR LARGE GROUPS

THREE-DEEP

Everyone gets a slip of paper that has two “counterparts” you have to find. For instance, if you have the word “red” on your paper, you are most likely looking to match up with people who also have colors. If you get a paper that says “Snow White,” you are probably looking for other people with Disney Princesses.

Before you start looking for your partners, you “mingle” with everyone to switch the papers all up. Then someone yells “go!” and you take your little paper and yell out what you have until you find three things that go together.

And believe me, it is LOUD with all those people yelling their heads off trying to find their partners.

Once you find each other you sit down “three-deep” according to the letter on your paper (“B,” “M,” or “T” which stand for “bottom,” “middle,” or “top.”)

The last ones to find their partners are out. Pretty soon you’re down to only six people and the three who sit down first are the winners.

A couple videos to illustrate:

PENNY GAME

This is so easy to play anywhere, any time. We’ve played it while waiting for a table at a restaurant and also with Dave’s huge family reunion (with that big a group you need to be sure to assign someone to keep track of who’s out and who’s in).

Everyone starts with three coins in their hand (doesn’t matter which coins…could be played with anything). And everyone agrees on what the “loser” will do. Maybe go jump in the ocean, maybe have to do all the dishes, belt out “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” in your best singing voice in front of a gas station…could be something super gross or daring, whatever you want!

Players put their hands behind their backs and put however many coins they want into their right hand (0-3) that will come out in a fist in front of them. Everyone takes a guess as to how many coins there are in those outstretched hands (no one can guess the same number and you rotate who gets to guess first). So if there are 40 people playing you could guess anywhere from zero to 120 coins.

Once everyone guesses, everyone opens their hands and you count how many coins there actually are. The person with the closest guess gets to be “out” and just watch the fun without worry that they will have to have the losing consequence.

Each round loses one more person until there is only one left: the loser. And that person has to do the pre-determined consequence.

At Dave’s family reunion the consequence was that the loser would have to put their face in the leftover cake. Ha! This is when we had gone from probably 45 players down to three, which happened to include both Claire and Lucy:

…and this is when we were down to just Claire and Brimley:

Ha!

ANIMALS

For this game everyone stands in a circle and one person is blindfolded in the middle.

He/she is twirled around (so he/she doesn’t know who is where) and then points to someone in the circle and asks them to make any kind of animal noise. Could be a cat, a hippo, a lion, a dinosaur (see video below), you name it…whatever!

If you are the person pointed to, you do not want that person in the middle to guess it is you. So you disguise as well as you can. See how Elle does it below:

If the person in the middle guesses wrong, everyone claps one clap all together and they move on to point to someone else to make a sound. If the person guesses right, that person they guessed takes over as the one blindfolded in the middle.

Fun times.

MINUTE-TO-WIN-IT GAMES

Of course, there are all kinds of different games you can do from the “minute-to-win-it” genre. Google them and you’ll get a million.

Here are a couple we have done:

1) Catch the Cheetos with shaving cream on your head

Have a representative from each group cover their head in shaving cream, and another representative standing a pre-determined distance from them. Try to get as many Cheetos stuck on that shaving cream as possible.

Here’s a snippet to give you a better idea:

Warning: That game will often turn into this:

2) Shake-it

Fill an empty Kleenex box with ping-pong balls and “belt it” around the waists of the competitors. Whoever shakes all those balls out first wins.

REVERSE CHARADES

I have honestly laughed until there are tears streaming down my cheeks for this one.

Especially when my brothers are involved.

This is a great one because you can play it with a ton of people and everyone gets involved. You just have to download the app (reverse charades) on your phone. One person sits in the front (like my nephew is doing in that first pic), and they put their phone on their forehead. The phone shows the word their team has to act out. Once they guess right, the person holding the phone tilts it up and a new word comes up.

Try to get as many words as you can before your time runs out.

(This is easy with the app, but super easy to just come up with your own words and throw them in a basket and use your own timer as well.)

FEAR FACTOR

This has become a family favorite in our family since my brother introduced it almost ten years ago.

Whoever is in charge brings all kinds of foods for kids to try. Everything from a can of anchovies to pickled eggs to crickets.

The first round may be something easy like green olives or a teaspoon of lemon juice. Whoever can eat/drink the food/drink that is offered in each round gets to move up to the next round.

The general rule is that in order to pass, the food must be swallowed and no water is allowed to wash it down.

It’s a great way to get kids to try new things, and for some reason they LOVE it.

Last one standing is the winner and gets whatever whiz-bang prize you offer.

Someone suggested next year we do an adult “fear factor,” not sure I’m up for that though!

TRIGGERS

This is a favorite from Coronado.

One person goes out of the room and you tell the person to the right of you what you want them to do when you or someone else “triggers” a clue. For example, “If I fold my arms, you yell out “bananas!” or “if Blake laughs, you need to crawl around the circle,” or “if McCall touches her hair you have to go hug the person in the middle” etc. So then the person who hasn’t heard any of those plans comes back in, they have to stand in the middle of the room and try to guess one of the “triggers.”

Here’s a visual that was cracking us moms up:

ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS (with a twist)

We played this at Dave’s family reunion and it was a huge hit.

Set up some lines for people to hop down when the game begins and divide into two teams lined up at the ends:

The first person on each end starts hopping across all the lines toward the person on the other team.

When they meet up, they play rock, paper, scissors until someone wins:

Whoever loses has to go back to the end of their team line, and whoever wins gets to keep advancing to get to the other side.

The first team to get everyone in the whole team to the other side wins.

Here’s a video to illustrate.

This one was a huge hit.

PSYCHIATRIST

This one is an oldie, but man, everyone always wants to play it.

One person goes out of the room and the rest of the crowd decides a system for how they will answer every question the “psychiatrist” asks.

For example, each answer that is given has to go in alphabetical order. The first answer has to start with “a,” the next one “b,” and so forth.

Another example is to answer just like Grandpa Joe would answer (if you happen to have a particularly entertaining Grandpa).

One more example: when you answer you have to slyly touch your hair at the same time.

The “psychiatrist” has to determine what the system is.

LITTLE SALLY WALKER

This is an easy one…everyone sings “Little Sally Walker” while one person skips around the circle and comes to a stop in front of someone they pick. They do a little dance in front of that person, then that person has to do the exact same dance back and then they become “it.”

Here’s a video to illustrate:

Here are some more sentimental game ideas:

STORIES

This is one our friends the Farnsworths came up with and they always come up with the best games.

Everyone takes a minute to write down a quick story about something that happened to them growing up. It could be anything from “I got left at a gas station on a family road trip,” to “we had 8 pets.” The crazier/funnier the better.

There is a “reader” who reads a “story” and randomly chooses three guests to take two minutes to explain the details of the story to everyone. You can make up the most outlandish details to try to make yourself sound the very most realistic. Then everyone votes on who’s story it actually is.

The person with the most points at the end (after all the stories are read) wins.

FAMILY TRIVIA

We did this at Dave’s family reunion. All nine kids were “there” (one was only able to be there through zoom, on the television).

They had turned in a variety of growing-up stories before the game began. My sister-in-law read the stories and we had to guess which person it was about. Then that person gets a minute to explain more details.

This was a great way for us all to get to know even more about all those good people.

Of course, there some easy, classic big-group games/activities:

CLASSIC SLIP-N-SLIDE

Pick up a huge roll of plastic from Home Depot, set it up on a hill, cover it with a little dish soap and a hose at the top and let everyone slide down that thing like crazy.

RELAYS

We do these in every variety. From age categories in our traditional “Eyrealm Olympics:”

To piggy-back races:

Three-legged races:

Nothing like a great gunny-sack race:

And for years we did a “real” relay race with teams all randomly split up, ending at a place we could all get shakes to celebrate:

WATER BALLOON TOSS

Kind of self-explanatory and can be done in a lot of different ways, but we just divided up teams and the winner was the team that got the most water balloons passed safely from one group to another.

PHOTO SCAVENGER HUNT

One year we also split into teams and headed to the local bird refuge to see how many different shots we could get. (We had a list of everything from a “bird in flight” to “everyone jumping” to an artistic shot of the sky.)

Another year we had a list of all kinds of other things to get photos of, but I can’t find it right now! When I do I’ll come back and post it.

HERE IT IS!:

STEAL THE BACON

Dave’s family is super competitive so this was a fun one to watch.

There are two groups lined up on either side of a field or large grassy area. Everyone gets a number. The “host” calls out a number and the person who is that number from both sides runs to get whatever is in the middle (“the bacon”)…could be a hat or a towel or whatever you have on hand. Whichever side that gets it first gets a point. The team with the most points at the end wins.

Ok, and saved my personal latest favorite for the end:

One and Done

All you need is one die for this game and you can play it with any size group.

From a small group of Lucy’s friends the other night:

To this gigantic group at Coronado:

I know it looks like everyone is glued to their phones above, but they are just
keeping track of the scores on their phones since we didn’t have any paper available.

Each person has a paper with three rows of 1-10 to keep track of their score (or you can do it on your phone as these guys were doing in Coronado).

And there is a pre-determined “prize” for the winner, and a pre-determined “consequence” for the loser.

Each player takes a turn to roll the die and it keeps going around the circle.

You keep track of the points aloud as you roll. Say someone rolls a 3, the score is three, the next person rolls a six, the score is now nine, next person rolls a four, score is now thirteen. (This score is for the whole group.)

If someone rolls a two, whatever score it is doubles.

I love this reaction when someone rolled a two when we played with our friends (the stakes were high!):

Exciting times:)

You can say “I’m out” at any time and write down whatever score the group is at at that time next to the number on your paper of whatever round you are on.

You keep rolling as long as you want, as long as you are still “in,” (if you have opted out of that round you write down your score and do no more rolling). The trick is that if someone rolls a “one,” that round is over and everyone who is still “in” gets a big “zero” on their scorecard for that round.

So you have to gage how long to gamble with the rolling and how long you want to stay in.

Loved this reaction from Coronado when they were HOPING for a two, but got a one:

HA!

That roll of the one is the end of that round, and there are three lines of ten rounds each for a game.

At the end everyone tallies up the scores of all three rounds:

The winner gets the prize (Dave always wants to have a little cash involved:), and the loser has to do the pre-determined losing consequence.

Lucy had to jump in the bay in Newport when she lost:

Tyler was given a great mustache and everyone’s signatures on his back and chest with a Sharpie, see him getting the mustache down there below?:

Dave had to go out into the street and run around while singing at the top of his lungs: “I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!”

I tell you, that makes for a fun and entertaining night.

Ok, there you go! Let me know if I’ve left anything out, or if you need more clarification, and happy game-playing!!

Other posts about games for large groups:

The Candy Bar Game

Casino Night

Frisbee Game & Three-Deep

Also related to all these games:

How to Create an Awesome Family Reunion

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9 comments

Aly July 28, 2021 - 2:00 pm

This list is the best thing I’ve seen on the internet in awhile. Thank you!

Reply
Elizabeth Reynolds July 28, 2021 - 3:00 pm

I loved all these game ideas! Thanks!

Reply
Mel July 28, 2021 - 4:23 pm

Awesome list! Thanks so much 😊

Reply
Randa July 30, 2021 - 1:18 pm

These are all so great! Some are new and some bring back cherished memories. I’m gonna be using these at our next get together! Thanks.

Reply
Amy July 30, 2021 - 8:17 pm

Awesome post!!! Thank you!!!!! Couple questions!
In the penny game what if two (or more) people guess the same number? Does everyone have to guess a different number?

Does everyone keep rolling the dice even if they are “out” during that round of one and done? Or are they eliminated from rolling for that round?

Reply
Shawni July 30, 2021 - 9:52 pm

Thank you for the questions so I can clarify. I just added these instructions in the blog, but I’ll put the answers here too. In the penny game no one can guess the same number and you rotate who gets to make the first guess. And in “One and Done” (dice game) you forfeit your rolling once you proclaim yourself “out” of that particular round. Only those who are still taking the “gamble” to earn more points keep rolling.

Hope that clarifies ok!

Reply
Amy July 31, 2021 - 2:08 pm

Thanks so much! Can’t wait to try them!

Reply
Kimber July 31, 2021 - 3:40 pm

So many great ideas in one spot, THANK YOU!!!!

Reply
Amy Poelman Lunt August 2, 2021 - 9:15 am

Shawni – Thank you for posing all of these! We are always on the lookout for group games for our large family gatherings, friend gatherings, YSA game nights and YMAD team activities. I especially LOVE seeing all the Pothier pictures and videos!! What amazing people!

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