Party games are fun for moderately sized groups, and are a good way to integrate and transform regular old drinking, eating, conversation and funny hats into end-of-the-year entertainment. Most of these games are—or are derived from—old parlor games and were attained from my new favorite website, wikipedia.org (thanks, wikipedia!). Happy New Year and watch out for falling ammunition.
You'll need note cards or other identical pieces of paper, writing utensils, and a dictionary, preferably not one of those small, crappy, paperback ones. The game goes like this: One picker selects an obscure word. If anyone knows the definition, it is thrown out and another is selected. Everyone besides the picker writes down a reasonable definition for the word, while the picker writes down the correct definition. The definitions, including the correct one, are shuffled and read aloud once, then again for everyone to choose the definition they believe to be correct. Players receive one point for choosing the correct definition and one point if their definition is chosen. The picker receives one point if the correct definition is not chosen. One round is completed after every player has been the picker. The player with the most points wins the game.
There are two ways to play this game. In the first, you'll need a timer, paper and writing utensils. Players should choose five letters and five specific categories—such as cheeses, presidents or automobiles—and create a 5x5 grid. The players are typically given five minutes to fill out the grids. In a one-on-one game, whoever fills in more of the grid wins. In a multi-player game, whoever fills in more of the grid wins, but if two players choose, say, Havarti, that entry is thrown out.
In the second, more interactive and embarrassing version, players must create a slap, slap, clap, clap, snap, snap beat. Players speak on the snap, with the first player beginning by saying "categories," the second saying "such as," and the third saying the category (chosen on the spot), for example, “garments." Players are eliminated for missing their turn or miscategorizing (e.g. "shoes," shoes are an accessory). The last person left wins.
One person is chosen as the answerer. Other players take turns asking the answerer “yes” or “no” questions, trying to figure out what the "it" is. Whoever guesses the correct answer becomes the answerer and if nobody guesses correctly, the answerer gets another turn.
This game is related to the surrealist games Telephone and Exquisite Corpse and produces better results if you have more players. You'll need a writing utensil and paper. Depending on how many people are involved, you may need to tape two or three sheets together. The first player starts by writing a phrase, then passing it to the next person who illustrates the phrase. When the illustration is finished, that player folds down the initial phrase and the next player adds a caption to the illustration. The initial illustration is then folded down and the next player illustrates the caption. This can go on until everyone has had a turn or until the paper is filled. The results are then read aloud and captions are compared.
This game should be played with a larger group of people—say, eight or more. It requires either pins and pieces of paper such as index cards, or sticky name tags. The tags are stuck to a person's back with a noun or pronoun, or for more simplicity, a defined group such as “famous scientists,” “Mexican foods” or “European cities.” Identities can be assigned by one designated person or various members of the group. The object is to guess your identity by asking yes or no questions. Once you have determined who you are you may be assigned a new identity. The beauty of this game is that the interactive requirement forces people to mingle.
In Stupid Ninja Game, the object is to perform and title, or create a sound effect for, a videogame-style ninja move. Thus, as you perform your Ninja kick, you yell "kick you into ambulance" or while doing your chop you yell "rapid power bobcat chop," etc. In the Windsor version of the game, which is timed, players sit in a circle and attempt to move up to the highest seat. Players get demoted for making stupid mistakes such as performing the wrong stupid ninja move, taking too long, not saying the name of the move or going out of turn. When players make mistakes they move to the last seat and everyone else moves up one. Stupid ninja moves stay with the seat, which requires players to perform various moves. When the time is up, the person in the highest seat wins. In the untimed Hokua version of the game, turns are taken in "Truth or Dare"-style. After one player takes a turn, they pick the next person to go, and you are eliminated if you pick someone who was already eliminated. Players who make mistakes are eliminated, and the last player remaining wins. Players keep the same stupid ninja move throughout.
Players sit in a circle and name bands or musical artists in alphabetical order. For instance, the first player might say "Air," the second might say "Pat Boone," the third might say "Crass," the fourth might say "Kim Deal," and so on. Individual artists must be alphabetized by their last name. Players get eliminated if they can't think of anything or they misalphabetize. The last person remaining wins.