The Hat Game

Popularised as a "board game" which you can now buy in the shops, we have been playing this one for years in my family - and with much enjoyment too. It makes a great game for mixed age groups and works best as a sit-down game, perhaps in the early evening or after a meal.

The Hat Game

Age: 8+

You will need:

A hat or other container A 1 minute timer or stopwatch Lots of small pieces of paper * A pencil for each player *

* alternatively, you can prepare the game in advance yourself

How to play:

Give each player a stack of 10-15 small pieces of paper and a pencil, and ask them to secretly write down on each piece the name of a famous person or character (alive or dead, fictional or non-fictional, real or cartoon). Fold each paper in half and throw them into the hat. When all the names are in the hat, give it a good mix.

Divide the players into teams. It is best to have no more than 3 or 4 teams with no more than 3 or 4 players on each team. Try to mix up ages and abilities.

One player is chosen from each team to start, and one team is chosen to start. At the signal, that player must pull a name from that hat and try to describe to the other players on his team who that character is, without using any of the names which are actually written down. For example, he could describe "Prince Charles" as "current British royalty, next in line to the throne, Queen Elizabeth's first son" and so on, but not "a British prince". As soon as the character is guessed correctly, it is discarded and another pulled from the hat. The other teams keep score and watch the time, shouting "time's up" after a minute.

Carry on until each player has had a turn, count up and declare a winning team.

Hints:

If you write down the names yourself in preparation for the game, you can make sure that all players will reasonably know the characters. otherwise you should caution players to keep the characters they write down realistic, and remind them that they might end up describing a difficult character themselves, so writing them down might backfire on them!

Include the names of some "real" people known to the players, such as the children's headmaster or a favourite auntie.

You may decide to allow children under a certain age to "pass" on one name during their term.

If you don't know a character, you can still often describe them to your team - if you don't panic. You might say, for example, "I don't know this character but his first name is the same as the British prince who is next in line for the throne, and his last name is a kind of coat that you put on when it is raining".

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