Board Game: The Chain GameNumber of players: 3 to10.
Synopsis: Use your creativity to link common idioms. A player draws a card with a phrase. He or she must use one of the words on the card to come up with a new phrase. The next player does the same with the first player’s phrase, and so on. The group tries to go through as many phrases as possible before the timer goes off. An example of a common-phrase chain: “final exam,” “that’s final,” “that’s life,” “wildlife,” “wild and crazy,” “stir-crazy.”
To buy: $25, otb-games.com.
Electronic Game: Big Brain Academy: Wii DegreeNumber of players: 1 to 8.
Synopsis: Test your smarts and see how you measure up in five categories of brain-teasers: Identify, Memorize, Analyze, Compute, and Visualize. Participants play mini-games in a random sequence. At the end, they are awarded scores in the form of brain weights (the heavier, the better) and career paths (hello, improv actor), based on their accuracy and speed. For example, in one visualizing game, the player is presented with an incomplete painting and must use the Wii remote to finish it.
To buy: $20, amazon.com.
Parlor Game: CelebritiesNumber of players: 4 or more.
Directions: Before the party, the host comes up with a list of celebrities, writing each name on an adhesive label. When the players are ready to begin, the host sticks a label on each player’s back, making sure that he or she doesn’t see what is written on it. Then each player mixes and mingles, asking yes or no questions to get clues as to whose name is affixed to his or her back. If a player gets a yes answer, he or she can ask a second question; if it’s a no, he or she moves on to another player. The first person to figure out the name of the celebrity on his or her back wins; the last one to guess loses.
Parlor Game: How's Yours?
Number of players: 6 or more.
Directions: Send one person out of the room. While that person is gone, the remaining people choose something that the whole group has in common. It can be a body part (hair, height), physical possession (cars, pants), or more abstract things, like a sense of humor or a favorite pastime. When the exiled person returns, he or she asks each player, “How’s yours?” Each person responds with an adjective. For example, if the item is “chest hair,” the adjectives could be “lustrous,” “brown,” or “sparse.” The trick is trying to use descriptive adjectives that are clever but don’t give away the answer too easily.