Costume Party Game Ideas
If you’re planning on throwing a costume party, it’s good to have some group games prepared for your guests to play. Our staff truly loves to host these types of parties because they give everyone a chance to have fun, regardless of age. Whenever you are invited to a party–and not just any party, but a costume party–whether you are young or old, you just know it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ve pooled all of our Halloween party hosting experiences together and put together a list of guaranteed-to-please party games. Don’t disappoint your guests by not planning for a few party games in advance. After all, if everyone’s made the effort to dress up in costume, why not get the most fun you can out of it and create memories to last a lifetime?
Icebreaker Game: 20 Questions
One of our favorite game starts with an ice breaker. This party game is perfect for guests who may not be familiar with each other. But after playing, we promise your guests will be laughing and mingling with each other in no time at all.
Is your costume party a themed party (for example, dressing as Disney characters, or superheroes, or villains)? If so, you have the perfect opportunity to use that theme and tie it into the game to show off your party hosting prowess. If you don’t, that’s OK too, you can just think one up and it will still be fun.
Once you’ve settled on a theme, say Disney characters, write down a list of characters equal in number to your total number of guests, one character per sheet or paper. The idea is that each person will get a piece of paper pinned to his or her back without letting them know what’s written on it. As host, you can assume this duty so no one else finds out what character they get assigned. It’s OK if your other guests see each others’ characters as long as they don’t know their own. Pretend I have 10 guests, so I’ll write:
- Dumbo (Dumbo)
- Pluto (Classic)
- Jafar (Aladdin)
- Timon (Lion King)
- Grumpy (Snow White)
- Sebastian (Little Mermaid)
- Mad Hatter (Alice in Wonderland)
- Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh)
- Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
- Robin Hood (Robin Hood)
The trick here is not to be too obvious with the characters but not too obscure either. You don’t want the game too easy (like picking Snow White who is so well known and easily guessed; instead, opt for Grumpy, one of the seven dwarfs from the same movie). Study the list above and you’ll get a feel for the type of characters you need to think up. Generally the older the movie (like Robin Hood), the more prominent the character you can pick (Maid Marianâ€“Robin Hood’s love interestâ€“might be too hard). For newer movies, consider the sidekick or villain.
Don’t forget to tailor the list to your party’s demographic. If you are hosting this for young children, go for the obvious choices that are easier to guess and include more recent movies that they are likely to have watched. If you’ve got older guests, then you can feel free to dig into the older characters. If you’ve got aficionados who love a bit of brain stumping trivia, we’ve got lots of obscure character ideas right on our site!
With everyone’s backside now pinned with the name of a character you’ve picked from your theme, reveal the theme to your guests (to make the game easier, or not) and explain the rules.
In 20 Questions, each guest is allowed to ask every other guest one “yes or no” question pertaining to his or her character. Ideally, this is the number of yes/no questions anyone should have to ask to guess any object. So if you have 20 guests, this is the perfect number for this game. If you have less than that, you can increase to limit to two or three questions per person depending on your party’s size.
The object of the game is to guess the character you have been assigned. No one is allowed to ask the same person twice so this party game turns out to be a wonderful ice breaker that gets people talking and mingling.
To win, you have to guess the character taped on your back before you run out of people to ask. You can give away a prize to the person who guesses his or her character the fastest. You can also give away what we love to call an “anti-prize” which goes to the loser (the one who guesses the character last out of the party). This can be something that is embarrassing like the dares in “truth or dare.” Either way, giving your guests motivation to work quickly to either win or not be the loser will work in the game’s favor to add urgency and enhance excitement.
Murder Mystery Game
If you’ve ever played a murder mystery game, you’ll know it’s a lot of fun and way more involved than the 20 Questions game as it really allows you to get into character. If you haven’t played, you should definitely try this with a group of friends the next time you host a costume party.
Like 20 Questions, each guest gets assigned a character and must interact with the other party guests. That’s where the similarities end. Unlike 20 Questions, each guest knows his or her character beforehand. In fact this is critical to the game so that each person can come to the party prepared.
Murder mystery styled games go hand and hand with costume parties. That’s because each guest is an active participant in the game and it is their job to come to the party under an assigned persona. A murder mystery game should come with a dossier written for each of the characters at the party. As you might have guessed, a murder occurs and the culprit is sitting in the very room! It’s up to each guest to study the dossier, act the part, and try to solve the murder by interacting with the other characters/guests.
If you’re planning way in advance, why not take the opportunity to find a murder mystery game first, gather the list of all characters in the game, then have your guests come in the costume of their character! This works a lot better under the guise of Halloween or costume party as people don’t usually want to dress up for any other occasion. Believe us when we say we have experience here: costumed murder mysteries don’t work so well at, say, a birthday parties because nobody is in the mood to dress up. Getting dressed as your character is the part that’s the most fun!
There are a number of great murder mystery games available today but the one that really defined the genre is the original release from the How to Host a Murder party game series. In particular, Episode I “The Watersdown Affair.” We have many fond memories of this game and since its inception there have been several more episodes released by Decipher, the company that makes these games. The game comes with an entire back story and lots of characters with motives to be the killer. There is event ambient mood music to really get your guests into the game!
OK this one isn’t really a game, but letting your guests know that there will be a contest at your costume party will make it that much more fun, especially if you have guests who like to be competitive and jump at the chance to win at any contest. Plus, it will really set the tone for your future costume parties!
The idea is simple: you just need to devise a list of categories against which costumes will be judged. We like to make sure everyone’s a winner so we make sure that we have as many judging categories as we do guests, that way no one walks home without winning something.
Coming up with the list is the most fun part. After you get the typical “best costume” type categories out of the way, you can really let your creativity shine. As you know we like to be a little bit sadistic so we like to work in a “worst costume” category in the mix.
Other ideas include:
- Most original costume
- Scariest costume
- Least likely to take home to mom costume
- Most likely to take home to mom costume
- Bloodiest costume
- Most technologically advanced costume
- Smelliest costume
- Freshest costume
- Best home made costume
- Best store bought costume
- Most creative costume
- Most realistic costume
- Sexiest costume
- Least sexiest costume
- Most girly costume
- Most manly costume
- Most colorful costume
- Least colorful costume
- Tastiest costume
- Furriest costume
- Cutest costume
- Pedophile alert costume
- Closest to actual personality costume
- Best use of recycled materials costume
- Most elaborate costume
- Laziest costume
- Most likely to get arrested costume
- Silliest costume
- Best use of props costume
- Most magical costume
- Most politically correct costume
- Most politically incorrect costume
- Nerdiest costume
- Best make up costume
… and the list goes on! We like to have actual trophies on hand to pass out. A small label maker printer will do wonders here and you can then print and label each trophy with the category. For advanced planners, you can also pre-print your guests’ names so you can stick them on the trophy category that they win.
How do you win, you ask? Just prepare a ballot for your guests and have them fill it out. Be sure to tally it yourself and make sure that everyone wins a category. If you have to decide the tie-breaker then so be it. And if you have to secretly nominate someone for a category no one will be the wiser. In the end, it’s all about your guests’ enjoyment and making sure everyone walks home happy. We also like to capture and print a picture of each guest with their trophy as a take-home keepsake.