15 Parent Friendly Party Games—No Drinking or Stripping Included

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With impending school season and uncomfortable icebreakers dawning on our August month, nothing else quite makes you want to drink as much. However, some people in your life might not approve. Your adult family members might assume you party like you’ve reached the end of the world, but I swear it doesn’t have to be this way. These games don’t require alcohol, but a little booze never hurt to get the players loosened up.

Read on for 15 party games that you can actually tell your parents about the morning after.

1. Truth or Dare Jenga

For this spiced up version of a classic game, you just need Jenga, a permanent marker and a little bit of imagination. You can keep “truths” light with silly Would You Rather? questions or search online for some good medium-talk questions to break the ice with your group: who did you consider your best friend two years ago? What did you want to be when you grew up? And so on. If your mind blanks as much as mine does for the “dare” portion of this, keep go-to’s like prank calling and performing the latest dance challenge for the group in mind. The options stretch on for days, and all of them not involving your parents developing stress-wrinkles.

2. Story – story

Pick this game if you run with the more theatrical crowds. A group of people sit in a semi-circle, and two players start the game. Player one gets up to act out a scene, while player two starts telling a story for them to portray. After around a minute, yell out a loud “DING” and player two takes the place of player one while player three begins where player two left off. Confused? You won’t be once you start playing. Thankfully, no real winners or losers happen in this game. The game can go on for as long as the crowd demands. Plus, don’t worry about your lack of acting chops. We can’t all ad lib like Chris Pratt.

3. Ghosts in the Graveyard

I don’t care if it’s still summer, Halloween will come any day now. “I like outdoor games like Ghosts in the Graveyard because they’re simple and easy to get way too into,” said University of Iowa senior Claire Huguelet. This fun number requires just three things: a flashlight, a dark area and a little bit of spook. With the aid of this dark area, whoever’s “it” has to search for people using just a flashlight and their own better judgment. On the off-chance your group lives in a city or even a dorm room, try it in a house with the lights off. Better yet, blindfold whoever earned the title of “it.” You can make it like a slightly more dangerous game of “Marco Polo,” but proceed with caution that they don’t take out a limb on any nearby chair.

4. Cornhole/Bags/What-have-you

“Nothing better than a good game of cornhole to bring people together,” said University of Northern Iowa senior Kennedy Elliott. In spite of the constant Twitter polls dissenting over its true name (perhaps it’s the Iowa in me, but I’m a die-hard “cornhole” girl), the easy rules and easy assemblage make for an inevitably easy-going and easy-laughter game. Simply try to toss the bags, normally filled with corn kernels, as close to the hole in the wooden board as you can. Bonus points if you actually manage to get the bags in the hole. A perfect memory to take home to mom and dad.

5. Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board

This quick game suits every witchy interest and intrigue without necessarily committing anything witchy – but it might end up as a gateway drug into more powerful wizardry. Simply recite the incantation as many times as deemed necessary, gathered around the person laying down and watch the real magic happen as they float into the air. This one proves pretty useful when you want a quick little icebreaker without having break out a few bottles of Smirnoff Ice.

6. Blind Drawing

Consider this both a trust-building exercise as well as an opportunity to mercilessly roast your friend’s artistry. Sitting back to back with a partner, the first partner receives a photo of something universal like a bee or watermelon. From there, they have to shout out words that resemble this object without actually saying the object’s name. Sit back from there and watch the horrible sketches ensue. For a little more difficulty, try celebrities or shows and see horrible caricatures of Kylie Jenner’s mouth (pre or post-injection removal).

7. What’s My Name?

Remember that scene from The Office? Hopefully your friends won’t say anything quite as problematic. Simply stick a mystery person on your forehead and put forth your best judgment. Try not to make it too difficult, however. Someone can guess Madonna and Michael Jackson easier than your first grade teacher’s pet fish. If you want to play it with family or a close group of friends, up the ante and try to act out your loved one’s most embarrassing memory. What’s better than having the opportunity to mock the people you love in your life?

8. Conducted Story

This game provides a bit of fun for anyone looking to stretch their creative legs. The “conductor” creates a character, usually a fairly dramatic persona that can easily carry over into story-telling. The conductor stands in front of the players and points to people at random, and this person needs to tell a story in as theatrical a way as their body can contain. Think of it as a bit of improv for when you need to actually lie to your parents about what you did the night previous. With the power of the conductor, they can decide to switch up the person telling a story as long as they want, as well, going on until the story draws to a final close. Make sure that you’ve gotten any public speaking jitters out of the way before participating.

9. Mafia

Think of a particularly murderous game of Heads Up/Seven Up and you’ve got an idea for what this game entails. “Mafia was always a hit at debate camp,” said Fordham University junior Eden Weinhardt. As many as 20 or so people can play this, but a you’ll need at least seven. The three main groups of people go as follows: the Innocents, who try to expose the Mafia during the “day” period; the Mafia, who try to kill the Innocents during the “night” period; and the Moderator, the one who gives out identities and makes sure the rules are followed. During the day period, the Innocents have the opportunity to guess who the identity of the Mafia members, while the accused have the chance to state their case before a group-wide vote. As the night period approaches, everyone puts their heads down while the Moderator wakes the Mafia one by one to decide who to kill.  Some versions of the game include a doctor who saves the townspeople and a detective who can guess who has killed off his friends. While the set-up of the game needs a little more explanation, this gives opportunity to break out your best poker face and try not to give away your alliances—or lack thereof.

10. Sardines

Ever wanted to play Hide and Seek without the stress of searching for the “hiders” alone? This game is for you! Instead of Hide and Seek, one person gets tagged as “it” and everyone else has to search for them. You’ll find several variations of this, as well, by changing up the area that you hide and seek in, if the person who’s “it” can try to tag others before they find them and whether or not there’s a time frame. Choose up and have at it.

11. Black Magic

This game includes a bit of memory, but go easy on those who might never have played this game before. The person who knows the most about this game becomes the one doing this “black magic” of the game. They choose an assistant to whom they tell the secret of the game and the rest of the game members get left in the dark – literally. The atmosphere of the game requires a spooky setting, so turn off the lights. The assistant instructs the players to decide on an inanimate object for the magician to discover while they leave the room, and the people specifically have to point so there holds no chance of the magician eavesdropping on them. The assistant then brings the magician back into the room, and points to a series of objects that they have to pick from. Spoiler alert—the way the magician gets it every time? When the assistant points to different objects, whatever they point to after a black object is what the members decided after the magician leaves the room. Trickery and puns.

12. Umbrella Land

Play this game at any time of day for some quick problem solving and inductive reasoning. “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring…” starts off this simplistic game, going on until the rest of the players find out what requires that sentence to be finished. You just need a group of people who have no idea what’s going on, so you might introduce this game to your friends after they finish studying for their four midterms or that first week of dorm introductions. “I think Umbrella Land is a great game to play, especially as an icebreaker, because everyone has to get involved and it’s so fun once you’re in on the trick,” said University of Iowa senior Natalie Betz. The real trick for this game: you need to put the phrase “um” before the object. For example: “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring, um, apples” works, specifically with the “um” attached. Finally, your social uncertainty in conversations pays off.

13. Spoons

Keeping true to the name of the game, what you need for this bad boy includes a deck of cards and one less spoon than the number of players. Placing the spoons in the center of the table, the objective is to get four of a kind of card and take a spoon from the center of the circle. However, the moment that the first person takes a card from the center, anyone can take a spoon. Plan for the ensuing havoc of damaging fingers, and the person without a spoon gains a letter. “Spelling” spoon gets you eliminated, and the game goes forth until the last person remains. Grab some snacks with those spoons and settle down for a game of strong language and bruised hands.

14. Scavenger Hunts

This particular game comes in handy for those looking to explore a new city, as well as create a memory without risking your liver or wallet. “I feel like scavenger hunts are a fun way to interact with the area you’re in, and you get to know the people you’re with a little better,” said University of Iowa senior Geoff Montour. Look up a city’s famous landmarks without a GPS, try finding the best coffee shop or shopping place or whatever else floats your boat. Through this, you have the chance to integrate with your city as well as bond with your scavenger mates along the way.

15. Apples to Apples

Want the fun of Cards Against Humanity without the discomfort of explaining it to your conservative parents? Try this card game out for size. “I haven’t played it since I was eight, but Apples to Apples is a good one,” said University of Iowa senior Alisha McTaggart. If you want a way to spice the game up a little, turn it into an argument. Instead of letting the person pick at random, state your case. Get those creative juices flowing, and yell at your opponents because your card clearly crushes theirs.

Natalie is a junior majoring English and Creative Writing and minoring Art History at the University of Iowa. She has an affinity for cats, caffeine and being unnecessarily dramatic in her hand gestures.

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