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The Best Dinner Party Board Games

By Edited Jun 4, 2016 6 16

Family playing board game

Board games are under-rated! Particularly at a dinner party. I know there will be hardcore Nintendo Wii junkies who disagree. But perhaps if they tried some of the best dinner party board games on the market, they'd change their mind.

A party, by definition is 'a social gathering of invited guests, typically involving eating, drinking, and entertainment', so being sociable is surely a given? What is sociable about a room full of people staring at a screen, simulating a game of tennis? Where is the real human interaction, the eye contact, the use of imagination, the spark of conversation?

If the same group of people were to sit down to a good party board game, they would still have a mutual point of focus (the board), but instead of it being at one end of the room, it is placed in the centre of a table or rug and everyone sits around it, forcing them to engage with each other. 

Here are five games that I've played at dinner parties that have proved hugely successful and ultimately hilarious, breaking the ice and getting the evening off to a cracking start. They're perfect for a dinner party, great as Christmas party board games and ideal for a group of fun-loving adults.

Fun Party Board Games for Adults

Articulate

Articulate is a fantastically sociable and competitive team game. It's one of the best party board games for adults to play at a large social gathering because it can take up to 20 players. Having said that, it's also suitable for anyone above the age of 12 and only takes around 30 minutes to play.

Drumond Park Articulate
Amazon Price: $34.63 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 4, 2016)

How to Play Articulate


The object of Articulate is to work your way around the board and be the first team to reach the finish line.

Players divide into teams. Those teams take it in turns to go. One member of the team describes different words (which are printed on cards) and their team-mates must try and guess the word they are describing.

Articulate Board Game
The words fall under one of 6 categories:
  • Object

  • Action

  • Person

  • Geography

  • Nature

  • Random

Some of these categories are more challenging than others. Objects are generally easier to describe as they are familiar (if you were describing the word 'tooth brush' you might say, "you use this to clean the white things that are attached to your gums"). Geography and Nature sometimes require slightly more knowledge.

Rules govern what is and is not allowed when describing words. For example, you can't say "it starts with the letter P", or "the word sounds like 'brick'".

A vivid imagination and a good grasp of language are advantageous. It also helps to be a quick thinker and an even quicker talker!

The number of spaces you move along the board is determined by how many words your team guesses correctly before the sand timer runs out. So, if your team correctly guesses five words, then you move forward five spaces.

What is fun about Articulate?

There is a competitive element to Articulate which is always fun. The pressure of the timer fuels the game with adrenaline and the things people come out with under pressure are often hilarious.

Pictionary

Pictionary is perhaps the best dinner party board game. It's for 2-4 teams and is playable by younger children as well as adults. The emphasis is on communicating through your ability to draw. Depending on the players and the number of teams, a game can take between 45-90 minutes. Pictionary is extremely sociable and can be tremendously funny and competitive.

Pictionary - The Game Of Quick Draw
Amazon Price: $15.24 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 4, 2016)

How to Play Pictionary

Pictionary is played in rounds, some of which involve all teams, others only one team. The aim of the game is to get to the end of board.

On a team’s turn, they move to a square on the board, pick up a card from the stack and find the category on the card that corresponds to the square they have landed on. Next to the category is a word which the player must attempt to draw whilst their team-mates attempt to identify what it is. They have a specified amount of time to guess correctly.

Pictionary Photo
There are certain rules to determine what is and is not allowed; the artist is not allowed to write letters, mime or make any sound.

If the team correctly guesses the word, they are allowed to roll the dice again, move along the board and play another turn. If the team does not correctly guess the word in the allotted time, the next team takes their turn.

What is fun about Pictionary?

Pictionary is great for a group of people who enjoy drawing. In fact, even if you're not a great artist, there is much fun to be had with this game; the words aren't usually obscure and it's more about communicating the word on a piece of paper than drawing a masterpiece. The timed element adds a touch of excitement and the post-drawing discussion can be hilarious. A firm favourite at dinner parties!

Cranium

Cranium is a famous as one of the best party board games for adults and children alike. It's original, uniques and can provide a whole evening of fun.

How to Play Cranium

You divide into teams to play Cranium which makes it great for dinner parties.  The aim of the game is to make it to the end of the board and get into the central area.

On the way round, teams compete in several different activities; the games you play on your journey depend on which square of the board you previously landed on. There is a time-limit for each activity and game (one minute on an egg timer). The four categories players compete in are;

Cranium
Creative Cat: Players sculpt different items out of the clay provided in the box or have to draw pictures blind (with their eyes closed).

Data Head: Players answer True or False and general knowledge questions..

Word Worm: The teams must spell words backwards, solve cryptic clues and complete various puzzles.

Star Performer: One of the funniest of the games in Cranium, players must impersonate celebrities, people from history and take part in role play.

What is Fun About Cranium?

Cranium combines all the best parts of classic board games but is really unique and original. The wide range of activitiesand the relatively short playing time means that it is exciting and hilarious throughout. 

Game For Fame

Game For Fame

Game For Fame is a relatively unknown game, but one that I predict will be big in the future! Not least because it is probably the most fun party board game I've ever played.

Be warned, you have to be prepared to make a bit of a fool of yourself. It is suitable for 4-16 players above the age of 10 and takes about 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

How to Play Game For Fame

The object of Game For Fame is to become the richest celebrity. You initially play in teams, but in the end it's every player out for themselves as there can only be one winner.

The tasks are divided into Solo-Star and Co-Star cards. 

In Co-Star tasks you work with your team in a similar way to articulate. One player must 'act out' different scenarios or characters whilst the rest of the team guesses what they are attempting. This is better explained with a couple of examples.

In one Co-Star task, the player must read a line of text in different accents (i.e. American, Australian, British, Scottish etc) and their team-mates guess the accents they are attempting. In another Co-Star task, the player must make the sound of one animal and move like another (i.e. a Penguin Pig) and their team-mates guess which cross-breed of animal they are being. The number of correct answers their team-mates give within 1 minute (timed with a sand timer) determines how many spaces they move along the board,

In the Solo-Star tasks team-mates compete against each other by performing different styles of dance, raps, writing jingles among other things and are judged by the other teams who decide which player receives the cash prize.

There are many other funny aspects of this game, such as Paparazzi cards which act a bit like the Chance cards in a game of Monopoly and the Entourage cards (the bigger and better your Entourage, the quicker you can progress around the board).

What is fun about Game For Fame?

An easier question would be 'what ISN'T fun about Game For Fame?' It truly is the funniest of this type of board game. Did you ever imagine in your wildest dreams that you'd live to see your Dad ballet dancing or your Grandma rapping? Some of the games take guts and, if you are playing with a group of adults at a dinner party, it helps to ease the nerves with a couple of drinks, but ultimately it is guaranteed to have all of your guests in fits of giggles. You'll come back to this, one of the best dinner party board games, again and again. 

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Comments

May 20, 2012 8:52pm
hillloyd
Good article. I'm with you, board games are great fun.
May 22, 2012 7:18am
jjhansen
Glad you enjoyed the article. I love board games especially if they have a party vibe and are slightly competitive.
Jun 5, 2012 3:48am
claudslewis
I've tried playing party games on the iPad and found it too boring. Passing around a tablet with everyone not being able to see what was happening at any given moment made things too quiet. Give me an old fashion board game any day. Good article! Thumbs up from me.
Jun 5, 2012 3:54am
jjhansen
Thanks claudslewis. I love a board game over a computer game any day of the week too - far more sociable.
Jun 18, 2012 12:09am
adragast
Completely agree with you. Nice choice of board games.
Jun 18, 2012 4:19am
jjhansen
Glad you agree - have you played Game For Fame? It's fab. Thanks for the comment.
Jun 18, 2012 7:14am
Ascentive
Great article!
Board games are so much fun.

Thumbs Up!

~Anja~
Jun 18, 2012 7:48am
jjhansen
Thanks Anja,
Glad I'm not the only board game geek left!!!
Jun 18, 2012 11:18am
angieyoder
My family and I have "game night" every Sunday. We eat early dinner (about 5) and then the rest of the night we have music on the stereo and we pull out all our old games and have a go. Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and Yahtzee are some of our faves. It's such a fun way to bond with each other, and often one of the kids will invite a friend or we will have our friends come around and it's even more fun with a crowd!

Great article; an homage to board games is definitely needed in this electronic age.
Jun 18, 2012 12:32pm
andrewagreen
Can certainly vouch for Articulate - a great game to get party going.
Jun 18, 2012 4:51pm
jjhansen
angieyoder - that's wonderful. Board games are so social and can be really great for development in kids. I love Scrabble too.

andrewagreen - yep, Articulate is great fun.

Thanks for your comments.
Jun 21, 2012 8:23pm
southerngirl09
Scrabble is the favorite board game at my house. When it's just hubby and I we play cards. Great article and super feature! Thumbs Up!
Jun 22, 2012 12:57pm
jjhansen
I love Scrabble too, but I wouldn't call it a party board game. Thanks so much for your comment.
May 24, 2013 12:49pm
chbamey
Pictionary is my favorite--now must try the other two! I feel a game night coming on. Thanks for the article.
May 24, 2013 2:41pm
ladybugblue
Great Article-Cranium is our favorite but thanks for some new ideas!
May 24, 2013 6:35pm
chopsooy
I'm a board game addict "Game For Fame" looks like mega fun!
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