How to Play Charades: Rules & Best Gestures

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What is Charades?

Charades is a timeless party game that has been played for decades. In the standard version of this game, players use gestures to act out a word or phrase. Other players try to guess what they are acting out and score points doing so. Here, we will show you how to play Charades, and introduce you to some fun variants that will keep you entertained for hours.

Charades requires teamwork, communication, and quick thinking similar to the Fish Bowl Game. It can be played with any number of players, making it perfect for both small gatherings and large parties.

Your Game Information

Players: 3+

Equipment: paper and pen, or charades cards

Duration: 30-60 minutes

Area: indoor

Tabletop: no

Drinking: no

How to Play Charades

Before starting the game, you should determine whether your playing in teams or individually. For larger groups we advise to play in teams, while individual play works best for smaller groups.

You will need a timer and a list of words or phrases. All words or phrases should be written or printed on equally sized pieces of paper. You can either decide to grab a charades words list from the internet, use a charades generator, or let all players write a pre-determined number of words themselves.

These words and phrases can be literally anything. You can choose to play with a random collection of words, or words that belong to a specific category. This makes Charades perfect for themed parties.

Subsequently, all pieces of paper are folded twice and put into a bowl or bag. Set the timer to one minute.

The Gameplay

  • One player starts with acting out a word or phrase, using only gestures and body movements.
    • When playing with teams, their team members try to guess the word or phrase. If successful, they receive that card which counts as a point. The acting player then immediately starts with the next one. Within one minute, they try to guess as many cards as possible.
    • When playing individually, all opponents try to guess the word. For each successful guess, both the guessing and the acting player receive a point.
  • After each turn, the turn goes to the next team or player.
  • At the end of the game, all points are counted. The team or player with the highest score wins the game.

When does Charades end?

The game can end in two ways, depending on how you want to play the game:

  1. You can choose to play for a pre-determined number of rounds with an excess of cards. For this option, our standard rule is three turns per player.
  2. Alternatively, you start the game with a set number of cards, for example 50. In this case, the game ends when all cards are guessed.

There are some common gestures used in Charades that can be very useful. We will describe them below.

Charades Signals List

There are several commonly used Charades gestures that you can use to make your acting out more efficiently. First of all, you can give clues on the number and length of words:

Words Gestures

With these charades clue actions, you can provide information on the composition of words:

  • Number of words: Hold as many fingers as there are words up in the air.
  • Small word: hold thumb and index finger together.
  • Big word: hold thumb and index finger as far as possible apart.
  • Number of syllables: Hold a number of fingers against your forearm.
  • Sounds like: Cup your hand to your ear to indicate that the word or phrase sounds like something else.
  • To show the word’s position, hold up as many fingers.

Category Signals

Aside from word composition, there are several commonly used gestures that provide information on the target word’s category:

  • Book title: Pretent you’re holding a book.
  • Person’s name: Put your hands on your head.
  • Song: Move your fingers as if you’re delegating a song.
  • Event: Point to your wrist as if you’re wearing a watch.
    • Past event: Point the thumb of your other hand over your shoulder.
    • Future event: Point your index finger forwards.
  • Quotation or phrase: Make quotation marks with both of your index and middle fingers.
  • TV Show: Draw a rectangle in the air, representing a TV screen.
  • Movie: Pretend you’re using an old videocamera by looking through a circle made with your left index finger and thumb, while making a spinning movement with your right hand.
  • Location: To represent Earth, make a circle with your index fingers. Then point at that circle as if you were pointing out a location.
  • Person: Make a short pose where you stand with your hands on your hips.

Correctness Actions

While acting out, you can provide clues to other players on how close or far away they are from guessing the right word or phrase:

  • Getting closer: Make a ‘come closer’ gesture with your hands to encourage players guessing in that direction.
  • Getting colder: Make a stop sign with your hands to indicate they are on the wrong track.
  • Correct guess: Firstly raise your thumb, then point at the player who made a correct guess.

How to Get Charades Words

There are several ways to get charades words for your game of Charades.

One possibility is to print a full list of words or phrases downloaded from the internet. The internet is stuffed with charades lists and we will soon upload free charades lists as well. From general words to lists perfect for themed parties, there’s a collection for every occasion.

Alternatively, you can cut out equally sized pieces of paper and let your guests all write down a number of words. In this way, you’ll get a unique and crazy mix of words. One disadvantage of this method is that some players may write down words that are too specific and hard to guess for other players. Therefore, it’s important to discuss what can and cannot be submitted as Charades cards.

To save time, you can also prepare the whole game of Charades yourself. If you think that you can make a good words list that suits yo

The third alternative is to use an online Charades generator. These AI-driven tools can often be used on your smartphone, which completely excludes the need for cards. However, playing with cards does give you that original Charades feeling, and counting cards is easier than writing down scores.

Wrap Up

One big advantage of Charades is it’s customizability. You have complete freedom in what words and phrases you use, making it perfect for both general and themes parties.

Alternatively, you could conversation starters such as games similar to Cards Against Humanity, also perfect for breaking the ice and sparking conversation.

Charades is a fun and interactive game that brings people together. Whether you’re playing with friends, family, or strangers, it’s a great way to bond and have fun.

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