15 Get-to-know-you Games For Groups Of Strangers
The most difficult part of any event or gathering is that period at the start where no one knows one another. Especially in large groups, an uncomfortable silence can set the tone for an event that will ultimately fall flat. The best solution is to have a bit of fun that encourages people to get to know one another and facilitates them working together. Ice breaker games are often pulled from timeless party tricks, but they work because they do encourage people to get along and enjoy one another’s company from the outset.
There are a lot of party tricks out there, and not all of them will work in more formal settings, so here are 15 examples of simple, but effective, ice breakers for an event that can be applied equally well across both formal and informal settings.
This game is simple. Ask people “if you were marooned on a deserted island, which three people would you want there with you?” Ask them to share their choices with the group, and their reasons why.
True/ False Run
Stick a piece of paper on one wall with “true” written on it. On the opposite wall stick a “false” notice. Have everyone gather in the middle and one person read a statement. The other players need to move to either side of the room, depending on whether they believe it is true or false. Eliminate people who choose the wrong side until there’s one winner.
For a variation on the above (without winners and losers) instead have people stand on the side of the floor along an imaginary spectrum. So “beer” on the left or “wine” on the right. It’s a quick way to get to know the tastes of the various people in the room!
Two Truths And A Lie
For smaller groups this one is a classic. Each person thinks up three statements about themselves (the stranger the better), and one of those statements must be false. The other people in the room need to guess which of those statements is false.
Year Of The Coin
Another very simple one – pick a coin up from somewhere and see the year it was made. Then each person needs to recount one memorable thing they did in that year.
Photo Scavenger Hunt
This one takes a longer time to play, but for a longer event (such as a retreat or conference) it’s worth it! Give everyone a list of things they need to take photos of, and then send them out in groups of three to five to find those objects and take photos of them. The weirder the object, the better. Because everyone has a smartphone these days, this game is very easy to organise.
Get a box of blank cards, and on each of them write a sentence, like “Once upon a time, I…” or “My ideal vacation is…” Distribute these cards and everyone needs to make up a story based on the sentence on their card.
Who Done It
Pass out blank cards and ask each person to write one interesting, weird, or silly thing they have done on the card. Then collect the cards and read them out one at a time. The room needs to guess who might have done what is written on each card.
No, it’s not speed dating. Have each person in the group go up to someone and speak to them for two minutes, before ringing a bell and telling them to introduce themselves to someone different. The only rule is you can’t speak to the same person twice!
Where In The World
Each individual needs to think of three clues that describe, but doesn’t give away, either the country that they’re from, or their favourite foreign place in the world. The rest of the group needs to guess where they are describing.
In this game everyone in the group needs to work together to arrange themselves in order according to something basic (e.g. age, birthday, surname), but without making any noise.
Bigger and Better
Split the group into small teams, and give each a paperclip or other small object. Give them time to trade with one another (only the object that they are given) and be creative with it. The team that turns the paperclip into the biggest and best thing by the end wins.
Personal Trivia Baseball
Divide players into teams of six to eight people, and then have two teams at a time square off against one another. Pass out paper and get people to write down four interesting facts about themselves, arranged by difficulty. Collect all these facts together, then get one team to pick a statement and guess which person on the other team it belongs to. Easy statements get one ‘base’, the hardest statements are a ‘Home Run’, and getting it wrong equals an ‘out.’ Three ‘outs’ and, just like real baseball, the teams change over.
Great Wind Blows
Set up chairs like a game of musical chairs, one fewer chair than players. Then have the first player say “Great wind blows for someone who …” followed by a statement such as “has been to Russia.” And then all the players who have been to Russia need to stand up and find a new seat. The one who is left standing gets to come up with a new statement. It’s a double whammy of hectic action to get everyone moving, and giving everyone the chance to get to know one another.