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Home > Traditional Games (Parlor Games) > Non-Table Games > Charades Rules & Charades Ideas

Rules & Charades Ideas

Charades is a popular traditional game that involves 2 teams of guessers, a secret code, and a pantomime actor. Yes, it’s THAT game!

Over the years, Charades has been adapted into numerous television game shows and commercial versions have been released as board games.

Read on and find out more about How to Play Charades by reading our Charades Game Rules, Charades Tips, and Charades Strategy.

Let's Play Charades! The Classic Action Party Game!

Charades! The Classic Game where Actions Speak when Words Are Not Allowed.

In the last section of this article, you will find Charades game variants that we recommend for your next party!

Lastly, you will find our Free Printable Charades Code Cards and free links and resources to make the most out of your next Charades Game Session.

Note: Whereas the Classic Charades game is an 'Acting' Game, we invite you to check out our Picture Charades Game -- where players are required to draw the clues instead of acting them out.


The Charades Game in Brief:

In a Charades Game, 2 teams compete to make the most number of correct guesses of a secret code (or secret phrase or title) that is acted out by a pantomime actor. The game ends when time runs out, or when one team scores the target number of correct guesses.

What’s Needed to Play a Game of Charades:

* Charades Code Cards (where you write down the secret codes)
* A Timer (use a sand timer or a clock with large display for best results)
* A hat or pouch from where you draw the Charades Code Cards (optional)
* A Notepad and pen to record the Score (optional)
* 2 teams of rowdy, inspired players (for best results!)

How to Set Up a Game of Charades:

* A moderator or game host must preside over the game
* The moderator must prepare a short collection of Secret Codes. He must write these down on Charades Code Cards.
* The code cards can be folded and placed in a hat or pouch from which the pantomime actor must draw a random code. Alternatively, the code cards can simply be placed face down, and the pantomime actor asked to select a random card.
* Specific rules or guidelines for acting out the codes must be announced by the moderator.
* The Charades Game is now set up and ready to play!

About the Secret Codes in a Game of Charades:

The secret codes used in Charades Games are typically:

* Popular Sayings
* Popular Quotes
* Popular Expressions

More commonly and perhaps in line with your party theme, the codes can even be:

* Popular Song Titles
* Popular Movie Titles
* Popular Book Titles
* Popular Personalities such as Actors, Writers, Politicians, or Fictional Characters.
Note: In the interest of fair play, you can limit the selection to a time period that most of your players will be able to relate to.


How to Play Charades: Game Rules:

* A moderator or game host must preside over the game

* Players must be divided into 2 competing teams

* In each round of play, 1 team is designated as the “Guessing Team” while the other team is designated as the “Stealing team”.

* At the start of each round, the guessing team must nominate one of its members as the pantomime actor for that round.

* The Charades Game Host asks the Pantomime Actor to randomly draw a Charades Secret Code.

* The Secret Code is revealed to the Game Host and the Pantomime Actor

* The Game Host announces the Category or Categories of the Code

* The Game Host starts the timer and the Pantomime Actor begins to act out his clues

* The Game Host watches over the Pantomime Actor to see that guidelines are followed

* The Guessing Team must be able to guess the correct code within the time prescribed (say, 1 minute).

* During the prescribed time, all members of the Guessing Team are allowed to speak up

* If the time runs out on the Guessing Team, all members stop speaking and the Pantomime Actor stops giving out clues.

* The Stealing Team is then allowed to consult one another for a brief time (say, 10 seconds).

* The Stealing Team is given 5 seconds to make 1 guess for the code or lose the chance to steal.

* 1 Point is awarded for a correct guess either to the Guessing Team or the Stealing Team. If no correct guess is made, no points are awarded for that round.

* The round ends and the roles of the teams are reversed for the next round.

* The game is played as many rounds as it takes to:
**** reach a target score (say, 5 points); or,
**** until a set time has lapsed (say, 20 minutes total time plus a tie-breaking round in case it is necessary); or,
**** all the secret codes have been played


Guidelines on Acting Out Clues: Do’s and Don'ts For the Pantomime Actor:

It is important to discuss and announce the rules that preside for acting out clues. This will avoid arguments and bruised sensibilities later in the game.

Some of the typical guidelines (Don’ts for the Actor) that you need to discuss are listed below:

* Actor is not allowed to make sound effects
* Actor is not allowed to hum or whistle
* Actor is not allowed to form words or sounds on his lips
* Actor is not allowed to act out synonyms (or puns); he must strictly adhere to the meaning of the code, or the meaning of the words in the code
* Actor is not allowed to point at or showcase anything that corresponds to any word in the code

More guidelines are listed below (Do’s for the Actor):

Again, be sure you discuss with your players to avoid arguments later on.

Actions Guideline: Corresponding Action:
Indicate the Number of Words that make up the Secret Code Raise the corresponding number of fingers
Confirm or Negate at a Guess that is made Point at a guessing team-mate and Nod or Shake Head
Indicate the Order of the Word (within the code) that is currently being acted out Raise the corresponding number of fingers
Indicate the Number of Syllables in the word Make chopping motion(s) to the forearm where each chopping motion corresponds to 1 syllable
Indicate a Rhyme / “Sounds-Like” correlation between your action and the word you are acting out (Note: This is usually not allowed) Cup your open palm beside (but NOT over) your ear (Note: This is usually not allowed)
Solicit a Synonym; or, tell the guesser that he/she is on the right track Point at a guessing team-mate and make a “come-hither” gesture as if saying: “you’re getting close”

Penalties for Violating the Guidelines: For the Pantomime Actor:

If the pantomime actor should violate any of the guidelines, you can expect the stealing team to complain about it. If the game host agrees that a violation has been made, the guessing team can lose their turn and the stealing team allowed to make a guess (as if time has run out).

Winning Tips and Strategies for Charades: (for the Actor)

If it is allowed for your game, be sure to:
* indicate the number of words in the code
* break down the code: indicate which word within the code you will act out * for tough codes, you can even break down the word: indicate which syllable you will act out
* in addition to acting out the actual meaning of the word… act out puns, rhymes, and synonyms.. whichever will elicit the correct guess from your team mates
* point to items in the room or produce items from your person (such as your wallet) if it helps
* if you have a team-mate (such as your best-friend or husband/wife/partner) whom you think can guess the word you need, point to that person to call his/her attention then act out your clues to draw from him/her the word that you need
* if you hear a word or concept that can aid your teammates, always be sure to point to the player who spoke and make sure to draw out the word that you need

Winning Tips and Strategies for Charades: (for the Guessers)

* Don't be shy about speaking up – if you say something that the actor can use, he will be sure to indicate this
* Related to above: keep “concepts” in mind while the actor is acting out clues and say whatever words come to your mind related to the concept. Usually, the concept is key to arriving at the specific word that the actor needs
* Keep pace with the shifting of concepts. This is very important especially if the actor wants to start over. Perhaps he has led you astray with his previous clues, so pay attention and react accordingly


Winning Tips and Strategies for Charades: (for the Stealers)

* While the Guessing Team still has time, cover your mouth and speak softly when you discuss the clues. You’ll never know it, but the other team might be able get clues from you, by reading your lips or even hearing your whispers.
* Keep a careful watch on the Actor for any violations to the guidelines and be sure to inform the game host. The host is supposed to be keeping watch, but it doesn't hurt to keep watch with him/her.


Suggestions for Charades Phrases (Some Charades Secret Codes):

Below you will find some suggestions for Secret Codes that you can use in your next Charades Session:

Category Description Secret Code
Book Title The Da Vinci Code
Book Title The Prince and the Pauper
Fictional Character Merlin (from King Arthur legend)
Fictional Character R2-D2 (from Star Wars movies)
Movie Title Dances With Wolves
Movie Title Transformers
Place Madison Square Garden
Place Niagara Falls
Popular Personality Jay Leno
Popular Personality Simon Cowell
Popular Saying Up and At 'Em
Popular Saying Winners Never Quit, Quitters Never Win
Profession Football Coach
Profession Tax Man
Song Title Just The Way You Are
Song Title Mary Had A Little Lamb

Charades ..Links..

It's a Great Idea to Play Charades for your next Themed Party. Check out our links below:

Halloween Party Charades

Baby Shower Charades

Bridal Shower Charades/
Bachelorette Party Charades

Drunken Charades / Adult Charades

Charades Game Card - Sample (visit www.fun-free-party-games.com to find more FREE Charades Game Cards ready to print and play)
Sample Charades Cue Card

Find more by clicking here and by following the links below.

How to Play Charades as an Adult Party Game:

There are a number of ways to play Charades as an Adult Party Game. Follow this link and find our adult party game version of Charades: Drunken Charades with optional Strip Game Rules.

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Animated GIF FreeFree Printable Charades Clue Cards (download, print and play!)

[Cards with Ideas / Clues Part 1] [Cards with Words / Phrases Part 2]
[Printable Cards in Deep Blue Color] [Printable Cards in Deep Red Color]
[Printable Cards in Green Color] [Printable Cards in Yellow Color]
[Printable Cards in 6 Assorted Colors]
Loads of Free Stuff !!


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