A party where everyone just gets food and drink and mingles can be very stressful for the more introverted guests. The best parties have some time set aside for some kind of activity that involves the group as a whole. These three guessing games work very nicely for that. All they require is some simple props and a couple of co-conspirators.
After the group has assembled and the game announced, at some point co-conspirator 1 will leave the room. Co-conspirator 2 will take charge of the rest of the group, as explained for each game. Co-conspirator 1 will return with what might appear to be extraordinary telepathic powers. Round follows round, and eventually the guests will begin to figure out the secret. The ones who get it first will want to take their turn as one of the co-conspirators. Not everyone will figure it out at all, so when it's time to stop, explain.
I used to be part of a group that played these games frequently over the course of a few years. Naturally, a lot of people knew the secret already. The fun comes both from trying to learn it and from watching the truth dawn on someone else.
Put nine magazines on the floor in a 3 x 3 rectangle. Co-conspirator 1 leaves the room immediately while the group chooses one of the magazines as "it." When co-conspirator 1 returns, co-conspirator 2 points to magazines. Co-conspirator 1 rejects all the wrong ones but unhesitatingly identifies the correct one when co-conspirator 2 points to it.
How? Mentally divide each of the magazines into parts in the shape of the entire group on the floor. As co-conspirator points to magazines, he or she will identify "it" by pointing to the part of the magazine that corresponds to its position on the floor: top left corner, center, right side middle, bottom middle, etc. If the center mazine is "it," co-conspirator 2 will point to its center. He or she will point to the magazine immediately to its left anywhere except the middle of the left-hand side.
Co-conspirator 2 can set up any number of red herrings to encourage false solutions. For example, whichever magazine is "it," point to its position on every other magazine. Or always point to the correct magazine the fourth time. Whenever anyone says they think they know the solution and identify the red herring, switch the pattern the next time.
You need half a dozen or so spoons and space that everyone can see in the middle of the floor. When co-conspirator 1 leaves, everyone picks one person as "it." Co-conspirator 2 will identify "it" for co-conspirator 1 by mimicking that person's position and posture (standing or seated, leaning one direction or another, hand position, foot position, etc.), but no one knows that yet.
Instead, co-conspirator 2 lays out the spoons very carefully in some kind of elaborate pattern before calling co-conspirator 1 back into the room. It will take people a while to figure out that the spoons have nothing at all to do with co-conspirator 1's unerring identification of "it." (By the way, if the group chooses co-conspirator 2 as "it," his or her position will not resemble anyone else's.
After a while, co-conspirator 2 can signal to the group that the spoons have nothing to do with the trick in a couple of different ways. Lay out the spoons in an arrow pointing to someone else. Or, just simply toss them in the air and call in co-conspirator 1.
The Broom Game
Unlike the previous two party guessing games, both co-conspirators remain in the room for a while after the game starts. Co-conspirator 2, holding a broom, announces, "Let the broom game begin" and starts sweeping with the broom. The first person to speak after the announcement is "it." Co-conspirator 1 notices who's "it," waits a little bit, announces, "The spirit of the broom has spoken," and leaves. Co-conspirator 2 continues to sweep mysteriously: the floor, the walls, the furniture, the guests' shoes or clothing--anything to maintain an aura of mystery.
After a while, co-conspirator stops, looks around mysteriously, and then hold the broom over someone's head (but not "it" just yet) and says, "The broom hangs." Co-conspirator 1 answers, "Let it hang" from the other room. Co-conspirator 2 holds the broom over someone else's head and the two of them repeat the same dialog. When co-conspirator hold's the broom over "it's" head, he or she says, "The broom hangs heavy." Co-conspirator 1 answers with "it's" name.
A particularly talkative guest once got upset at being named three times in a row. One of the co-conspirators simply observed, "the early bird catches the worm." I think motor mouth caught on very quickly after that!
None of these games will work at a party where more than half the guests know the secret, but as I say, the group I was in played them all multiple times. Not everyone went to every party, and there was some turnover of membership every year. Occasionally someone would feel bad about not figuring it out before someone gave the explanation. That's fairly easy to handle. Just make sure that person attends the next party where the game is played and acts as one of the first co-conspirators.