11 Best Games for Dinner Parties

Staff Writer
Fun games to play to break the ice and keep the conversation going all night long
Playing Board Games


These are some of the best party games.

We love to play games at a dinner party. We love them so much that Lydia’s husband, in fact, has to give her a talk before guests come to dinner to remind her not to “force” the guests to play Trivial Pursuit when they don’t want to.

Be it a formal board game, or something impromptu, having a game to play around the coffee or dinner table can break the ice within a group of new acquaintances, or it can be a bonding element between the oldest friends and family.

Here are some of our favorite party games for grown-ups. Some require a board, others just a pen and paper — or nothing at all.

Board Required:

These are to be played just as you’re serving dessert and coffee to help keep the conversation going long after the dinner table is cleared.

Trivial Pursuit

Get a fun, modern version, or one you know your particular group will love. Did you know there are more than 80 different versions of the game, ranging from sports, the silver screen, to even guys vs. girls? 


A fun word game that is fast paced, and after dinner and cocktails, is sure to make guests roar with laughter.

Apples to Apples

If you’re not yet familiar with this game, please trust us. It’s a classic in the making, and utterly addictive. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Miss_Millions)


Based on Ludo, this board game tests players’ abilities at spelling, drawing, knowledge of facts, and acting out, like in charades. It’s like a workout for your brain.

Catch Phrase

If you can talk fast, this is a game for you. The player with the card gives as many clues as they can to aid their teammates as they try to figure out the word.


Another classic, this game is fun for all, as players frantically sketch out a word, be it a person, animal, action, place, or one of their “difficult” words, while teammates scream out words that come to mind, all within 60 seconds.

No Board Required:


This is an involved game that requires some space, as the version we prefer — the “alternative” version — involves pantomime. Everybody, and we mean everybody, does a good pantomime after a drink or two. It’s a great game for a BBQ or cocktail party. Here are the best instructions on how to play.

Who Am I...? (Aka The Famous Person Game)

Write the name of a different famous person, from history or pop culture, on a Post-It, one for each guest, and place one on each guest’s forehead. Using the "20 Questions" format, each person then asks fellow dining companions questions as they try to figure out their celebrity identity. The person who guesses their identity in the least number of questions wins.  

Drinking at Dinner


Turn your board game into a drinking game.

I Never...

Drinking isn’t a necessary part of this adult version, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drink while playing. Have each guest write down a secret act they have committed in the past, beginning the confession with “I never...” Put the secrets in a bowl and then let everyone take turns reading one secret aloud. After each secret is read, try and guess whose secret it is. We guarantee that if you don’t already know your dining companions, you’ll know one another by the end of the night!  

The Secret Message (Aka The Phrase Game)

This is for word nerds like Sarah. Write a different sentence on pieces of paper that you then slip under each dinner guest’s plate. Try for phrases that sound odd in adult conversation, such as “I want a pony” or “I have a fear of clouds.” When your guests sit down, ask them to read their phrase silently to themselves. They must then each incorporate their phrase into the conversation at some point during the evening. If the person they are talking to calls them out on it, the clumsy phrase-maker is out of the game. The guest who uses their phrase first without being discovered wins.  

Fortune-Telling Fish

Ok, so this isn’t a game per say, but fortune-telling fish are as fun to play with now as they were when we were kids. Write each guest’s name on a fortune fish bag and set one in the center of their plate as a place card, then watch your guests giggle as their fortunes change throughout the night. And yes, good food and wine as well as warm conversation do affect how that little fish curls and flips. We’ve tested it.

Click here for tips when hosting game night and here for great menu ideas.

This article was originally published on October 28, 2011.

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