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the name game

Now that we have young children, New Year's Eve has become a night of marathon game playing. Kids play Monopoly and Candyland with their grandparents and cousins. Adults play a card game we call Blackout and maybe a round of Carcassonne or Ticket to Ride.

It also happens to be my sister's birthday so we usually spend it together, ringing in the New Year and singing Happy Birthday simultaneously. Looking for a fun game to play tonight while you wait for the clock to strike twelve? Try the Name Game. I'm sure this game goes by many other names, but this is what my friends and I always called it. It's great for groups of about 6 to 12 adults, and requires nothing more than paper and pens.

Cut some paper up into little strips (you'll need a decent amount). Each person grabs a handful of paper strips and a pen and writes one name on each. Names can include celebrities, historical figures, people you all happen to know, fictional characters, etc. As you can see from the sampling above we like to include a wide range of interests, and it's best to try and think of names that are well known but a little obscure. Remember that both teams will be using the names, so if you make it TOO obscure like John Tyler (our 10th U.S. president) you'll be hurting when you pull that name yourself.

All the names are folded in half once and put in a large bowl (the folding is important since you don't want people to see other names). Divide your people into two teams, alternating turns between the teams. Each person takes a turn. Reach into the bowl and pull out a name, then try and get your team to guess who it is. There aren't a lot of rules about what you can and can't do. Obviously you can't say the person's name, and you can't do any "rhymes with" tricks.. but you can list movies they've been in, or sing the theme song for their show, or name the books they wrote.

For example, if you pulled out Wes Anderson, you'd say "He's the director who's really skinny and he did Royal Tenanbaums and Rushmore.. and they always star Bill Murray and the Owens brothers!" Your team tries to guess as quickly as they can. The turns are timed (1 to 2 minutes) and you win by scoring the most points for your team. If you get stuck on a name, you can throw it back in the bowl and choose another, but you lose a point. The team with the most points at the end of the bowl wins.

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Reader Comments (25)

I LOVE this game too -- we call it the salad bowl game because that's what we always used for the names!

02.1.2011 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

I've played a variation of this with my family all my life. Instead of just names, we write anything. Noun, verb, famous movie line, lyric, band, funny thing someone said earlier that evening, etc. All the other rules are the same. We call it the paper game. We had a reunion the same year "Dan in Real Life" came out and we talked about how geekily excited we all were that they played the same game in the movie at their reunion.

02.3.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLori

I play this game but we call it hollywood bowl, we only use celebrities. We play two rounds, the first round is basically the same as your way. For the second round, we can only use 2 descriptive words, so everyone had to pay attention to how the person was described in the first round.

02.6.2011 | Unregistered Commentermargaret

I play this game with two more rounds. The second allows three words only and the third is no words at all. Also, my pals and I have a rule that at least three people in the room must know who you write down. This came after after a painstaking game with three Canadians and a one guy who only wrote "famous" contemporary artists. There was a lot of phoenetic guessing that evening!

02.8.2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim

you should turn all those hand-writings into fonts!!

02.8.2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim

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