18 Fun Party Themes, Games and Activities
Planning a party and not sure how to entertain your guests? Keep the good times rolling with these crowd-pleasing ideas for adults and kids alike.
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Capture the Fun With a Photo Booth
Take snapping party pics to a new level by setting up your own photo booth — no rental required. Our easy-to-follow instructions cover how to create a colorful backdrop, how to properly light the area and even includes fun (free!) printable props that are sure to get the party started.
A Crafting Kid = a Happy Kid
Keep your littlest party guests happily occupied by setting up a kids' crafts area. Cover a table with a disposable tablecloth or brown Kraft paper, then set out big stacks of paper along with an assortment of crayons or colored pencils. Fill small containers with beads and twine for making jewelry and place juice boxes, milk cartons and bottled waters in an ice-filled container nearby so little artists can stay hydrated. Kids will love the recycled crayons shown here, learn how to make them.
Make Food Prep Part of the Party
The kitchen is inevitably the hub of the party so plan a menu that encourages guests' involvement. Meals that require several steps but aren't too time consuming, like homemade pizza, are your best bet. Pre-chop veggies, grate cheese and slice meat toppings before guests arrive then they can help shape the dough and build the pies to suit their taste when they arrive. For a healthier option, have a salad party or ask guests to help prepare items for the grill such as vegetable skewers. Don't worry about asking your friends to assist; most will appreciate helping and will have fun while they do it.
Build a Bonfire
Who doesn't love sitting around a fire, relaxing with a drink, making s'mores and sharing stories and songs? Bonfires are great because they provide light and warmth in cold weather as well as another place for people to gather. Plus, the mood around the fire can range from mellow and contemplative to loud and boisterous.
Try a New Twist on an Old Favorite
S'mores are a guaranteed hit with guests of all ages — with homemade graham crackers and a rich chocolatey smear, our recipe takes the fireside favorite up a notch. Get the recipe.
Everyone enjoys sharing a bit of their culture, especially when that means showing off their cooking skills by whipping up their nonna's homemade ravioli, their abuela's melt-in-your-mouth carne asada or even their Granny's caramel apple pie. Throw a dinner party potluck style, asking guests to bring one dish that's representative of their family's heritage or even a country they've always wanted to visit. You provide the basics, like beverages, bread, salad and a few sides then let the multicultural feast begin.
Everyone Wins at Game Night
No, we don't mean Monday Night Football, instead host a night where you and your friends are the players. If it's a small gathering, choose one game that can last a few hours, like Risk or Monopoly. For a larger group, set up a variety of games at different tables so guests can jump from game to game, like card games, video games, board games, etc. Provide easy-to-munch snacks that can be passed around the tables.
If Pinterest has taught us anything, it's that handmade is hot. While your friends may love the handmade look, crafting may not be in their genes — but it's never too late to turn a glitter-phobe into a bona fide hot-gun-wielding crafter. Just choose a project or two that even beginners can tackle. For inspiration, check out our exclusive crafting video series or one of our many easy holiday or everyday projects on our HGTV Pinterest board. Then, mix up some cocktails and snacks, set out supplies and get creative. Best of all: Your guests can take their crafty creation home as a party favor.
If you're a gardener and know others with similarly green thumbs, host a potluck-style dinner to showcase the fruits (or veggies) of your labor. Ask each friend to bring a dish featuring their prized vegetables and herbs. A variety of fresh foods provides a festival for taste buds, as well as an opportunity to educate one another and share experiences. Invite friends who don't garden, and you may provide them the impetus to start a garden of their own.
Swap Plants as Favors
A great activity for your plant-centric dinner party is a plant swap. Ask guests to bring along a potted cutting from one of their favorite flowering or produce-bearing plants. Planted in repurposed tins, the cuttings create a cute favor table, guests can just grab one on their way out.
Satisfy Their Sweet Tooth
While we typically think of baking around the holidays, whipping up (then sampling!) homemade sweets hot from the oven is always a recipe for fun. You provide the ingredients to make two to four classic dessert recipes, like chocolate chip, oatmeal or peanut butter cookies, brownies or lemon bars then ask guests to bring their favorite add-ins, like chopped nuts, caramels, toffee bits or even fresh fruit. Then, get creative to bake batches of fresh-from-the-oven treats that your guests can enjoy during the party then pack up their favorites to enjoy later at home. Get baking with one of our 23 cookie recipes.
Put Their Talents on Center Stage
A house-party jam session is the perfect venue for connecting musical friends from different circles, and live music creates an instantly welcoming and fun vibe. Most musicians will be happy to play, and your guests will be happy to sit back and enjoy the concert.
Tune Up Your Pipes
If your friends aren't musically inclined, how about a karaoke-style musical sing-a-long instead? The pro-grade equipment is available for one-night or weekend rental in many major cities or you can just fire up your video game system and sing along to your favorite hits with one of the many karaoke-based games.
Enjoy a Favorite Flick
Get a group together once a month or so to watch your favorite movies, or choose flicks that no one has seen before. If you develop a loyal viewing group, take turns choosing the movie. Maybe you want to make your way down a top 100 movie list or stick to a specific genre, like horror, comedy, action or romance. Pile the sofa up with pillows and throws, pop some popcorn and get comfy.
Whether your guests can't get enough of sweet + crunchy flavors or you prefer snacks with a little heat, we've got you covered. Pop up one (or all three!) of our endlessly munchable gourmet popcorn recipes to satisfy your guests' sweet or salty or spicy cravings.
Salted Stout Popcorn Recipe
Maple Nut Popcorn Recipe
Maple Chili Popcorn Recipe
Take a Scholarly Approach
You don't have to be stoic or pretentious to gather around literature. All you need are light appetizers, perhaps some wine and great works to read. Ask friends to bring their favorite poem or a passage from a beloved novel. It doesn't have to be Shakespeare or Chaucer, although the classics are always a good read. Or, encourage guests to read a poem they've written or even lines from their favorite song.
Learn a New Hobby
A fun, creative way to spend time with friends and family is to learn something new together, like canning, knitting, crocheting, stained glass or cheese making. The possibilities are endless. Look for the skills present in your circle. Most people are happy to share something they love doing. If supplies are needed, ask those participating to contribute or purchase the necessary items in advance and bring them along.
Weather permitting, take the party outside for a laid-back day of outdoor games, like badminton, bocce, horseshoes, cornhole, whiffle ball or croquet. For competitive groups, hold a tournament with prizes awarded for first, second and third place or for best play or most impressive comeback. For a creative take on a carnival favorite, our step-by-step instructions will show you how to upcycle empty glass bottles and rope into a fun ring toss game.