- A group of friends!
- 50+ blank pieces of paper
- 4-5 pens or pencils
- Stopwatch or phone timer
- Notepad and pencil for scorekeeping
- Two baskets or containers for pieces of paper
- Select a scorekeeper who wishes to spectate as a neutral party or select players from each team to take turns keeping score.
- Before beginning, determine how many rounds of Charades the group wishes to play. Alternatively, you can play until all the paper pieces have been pulled. Players should also agree upon a time limit for each player’s turn. For tutorial purposes, this guide will assume each team has a two-minute time limit.
- A team earns a point each time one of their team members correctly guesses the prompt.
- Charades can be set up at home by the players writing out desired prompts on provided pieces of paper, but can also be purchased for those who wish to avoid the hassle of brainstorming phrases and prompts each game. For tutorial purposes, this guide will assume players are creating their own prompts.
- Before the game begins, players will need to divide into two teams of equal size. Split the blank paper pieces between the two teams and head to different areas of the space with your respective team. Once separated, begin writing down Charades prompts.
- Players can determine what prompts are fair game, but great ideas include films, books, pop culture icons, television series, musicians, songs, politicians, and other common references. Proper nouns are strongly suggested and foreign phrases are ill-advised. Avoid prompts that are too long or niche, that way everyone in the group has a fair shot at guessing.
- Some Charades players will abide by common hand gestures or signals. If you wish to play this way, it’s a good idea to review these hand signals before starting the game.
- After both teams have filled out their blank pieces of paper, gather back in a common area to begin the game.
Charades is all about working within a team to guess or act out prompts without the luxury of verbal communication, so it’s a hilarious and entertaining challenge every time. Players take turns acting out a prompt to their team while they attempt to guess each prompt within a given time limit. Acting out prompts and attempting to guess player prompts correctly makes for some hilarious shenanigans every time.
Begin by selecting which team goes first with a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Teams will take turns having a player draw a prompt from the other team’s basket of prompts. After the player has reviewed the paper, the scorekeeper may start the timer and allow the round to begin.
Each player has two minutes to draw slips and act out each prompt for their team without talking or making any noise. If the player’s team guesses the prompt correctly, their team earns a point, and the round ends. After a player has completed their turn, it becomes the next team’s turn to have a player choose a slip from the opposing team’s basket.
When acting out phrases, it’s common to indicate what type of prompt they have pulled and how many words might be in the prompt. Common categories include films, books, music, quotes, and T.V., as these all have common hand gestures associated with them. (More on those later!)
Note: Some Charades players will act out each word of a prompt one at a time, but others may choose to get players to guess by miming the prompt in other ways. Whether or not players would like to act out each word individually or mime the full picture of the prompt is up to their discretion.
Charades ends once each team has gone through their bowl of prompts or when the group decides to stop playing. After each team has played through the prompts, the scorekeeper will tally the points. The team with the most points wins.
Charades Hand Signals
As we mentioned, Charades has some popular hand signals used to help simplify the process of miming each prompt. Below, find some of the most common hand signals used in Charades, but feel free to add whichever house rules you’d prefer:
- Movie: Pretend to crank a camera a la Jack Black in King Kong
- T.V. Show: Outline the shape of a television with your fingers
- Book: Unfold two hands as if you’re opening a book
- Play: Pretend to pull a stage rope as if you’re opening a curtain
- Song Title: Pretend to sing (without actually vocalizing!)
- Famous Quote: Do quotation marks in the air with your fingers
- Big Picture or “Entire Concept”: Sweep your arms in the air
- “On the nose”: If your team is close to guessing your prompt, tap your nose to indicate they are close to guessing correctly
- “Sounds like”: If a prompt includes a word that might be difficult to act out, you can begin the mime with “sounds like” by tugging on your ear
The best strategy when playing Charades is to keep an open mind when guessing a player’s prompts and to keep mimed actions simple. You may know a prompt based on a given action, but how will the team at large perceive the motion? By beginning with indicating the category and the number of words in the prompts, it becomes much easier for the guessing team.
Let’s use the popular film Forrest Gump as an example to review the two most common strategies for playing Charades.
One method would involve the player miming cranking up an old film camera to get their team to guess the Film category. Next, they would hold up two fingers to indicate they’ve pulled a two-word prompt and then indicate they are starting the first word by holding up one finger. Next, they could act out a tree-lined forest to get the group to guess the word Forest. After that, they could put up two fingers to show they’ve moved on to the next word of the prompt. They could pull on their ear and then jump in the air to signify “sounds like” Jump. An eagle-eyed Charades player could then guess Forrest Gump.
The second method involves the player going the “entire concept” route. Forrest Gump is a beloved film, with many familiar scenes that could be acted out, such as the iconic running scene. If the player thinks acting out a prompt’s entire concept would be a surefire way to secure a point, it’s best to go for a full-on, act-it-out.
Some variations of Charades will adjust scorekeeping to focus more on guessing times. In this version of Charades, the scorekeeper will mark down the guessing times for each prompt on each team’s scoreboard. After the prompts have all been pulled, the scorekeeper adds up the cumulative times to determine which team spent the longest time guessing. The team with the quickest final guessing time wins.
How many people should play Charades?
Since Charades is a team-based game, it can accommodate a large number of players. We advise keeping teams at a maximum of 6-7 players to keep the prompts from running out too quickly and make sure everyone has a chance to play.