The Best After-Dinner Party Games
David Burtka shares his favorite ways to keep folks entertained once the meal wraps up
Hi, there! It’s David, back with you to share some of my favorite ways to entertain guests once the dishes are cleared. But whether you’re a neat freak or someone who leaves all the plates on the table ‘til the last guest leaves (or the morning — no judgment, although gross), there’s only one rule: always keep the party going! Sure, you can pop in a movie or turn on a sports game, but that’s the easy way out. Get creative! Have fun! After all, that’s what the after-dinner party is all about. Here are some of my favorite activities to do once the party rolls from the dining room to the living room.
This is a big one in our house on family game night. It’s basically sprinting charades. Everyone comes up with a list of 10 or 20 movies. It could be movies in general, or a genre, like horror, or something really specific, like movies that have a character named Jack. Hard, easy, whatevs. Then, pick someone to be that round’s host, and divide up into two teams. Each team goes to a separate room, far from each other but equidistant from the host. One person from each team goes to the host, and when the game begins, they’re whispered the first title on the list. The players run back to their team and act it out, charade style. Once they guess it correctly, another team member runs to get the next title for their team to guess. The first to finish everything on the list wins. It’s hilarious, sweaty good times. Bonus: you can also design a meta theme, where all the titles have something in common, and the team only wins when they can figure out said theme.
Get 3 of the same jigsaw puzzles — nothing crazy like those 1,000-piece ones; something far easier, with say 20 or 50 pieces. Put each puzzle in its own bag and split up into 3 teams. First team to put their puzzle together wins. Want to make it extra fun — and loud? Put all 3 puzzles into ONE bag, put it in the center of the table and follow the same rules.
The Chocolate-With-a-Knife-and-Fork Game
This one is a ton of fun, especially for kids (but also for adults who’ve had a few drinks). Gather everyone around a table, where in the middle sits a giant, chilled Hershey’s chocolate bar (ideally on a sheet tray). Next to it are random clothing accessories: mittens, scarf, sunglasses, a ski cap. Also, a knife and fork. Here’s what happens: players take turns rolling a six-sided die once until someone gets a 6. As soon as they do, that person must quickly don all the accessories and then attempt to eat the chocolate bar, using only the cutlery. As the player is eating, though, the die keeps getting passed and rolled, until someone else gets a 6, at which point they take the dress-up items and fork/knife and begin trying to eat the chocolate themselves. Whoever eats the last bit of chocolate is the winner! It’s crazed, cocoa-fueled chaos. And assuming everyone gets at least a few bites of chocolate, there are no real losers! Shout-out to great friend and amazing agent Jonathan Howard, who hosts a monthly game night, and introduced us to this nonsensical gem of a game!
Bust Out the Music!
It’s not a game per se, but I always find it’s fun to have some kind of performance: Maybe you ask your kids to do a little dance number, or a musical friend of yours to play the guitar. (We have a friend who plays the violin beautifully, and we always ask him to play after dinner.) Everyone loves to sing, especially together — so how about some show tunes or standards around the piano? Any kind of live music element is great. If you don’t have an instrument, break out the karaoke machine! (Or karaoke videos on YouTube.) This is always a blast, even if your co-host and husband didn’t win a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. (I’m still so proud of you, Baby.)
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