Rules of Charades

I've found that the rules people use to play Charades vary from person to person, but I've provided a general guide to the rules I've found to be most consistant across all players.

What you'll Need

If You Want to Play Teams

Split everyone up into two teams. If you are using blank slips of paper, everyone should receive equal amounts of blank slips of paper. Have the players write down ideas for the opposing team to have to act out. Now obviously you could write impossibily hard clues, but in the effort of fairness/fun, try to keep the phrases down to earth. Place these slips in a hat (or other container), and when everyone is finished, place the hat in front of the opposing team.

Next, determine a 'batting' order for the players on the team. It is often easiest to just go down the line (if you are all sitting on a couch), or clockwise (if you are sitting in a circle).

Flip a coin to determine which team goes first. A player from that team should stand up and act out the clue. If the team can correctly identify the clue within the time limit, they get a point.

After the time is up, or the clue has been guessed, the next team goes, and you simply repeat from there till the final score is reached. The final score should be determined before the game. We often play to 10.

If you Want to Play Laid Back, with Everyone For Themselves

If your group is just wanting to play and not keep track of score, this is a great way to play Charades. If you are using blank slips of paper, have everyone write down their charades phrases and place them in a hat. If you are printed cards, cut them out and place them in the hat.

Ask for a volunteer or, if you are the host, you should go first. Take out a phrase from the hat and attempt to perform it. The first player to guess the clue correctly, stands up, draws a charades idea from the hat, and then it is their turn to act out a phrase.

Note: If someone is acting out a clue you wrote down (if you played with the paper method), once you realize they are acting out your clue, don't shout out the answer, and instead, stop playing.

How to Act Out a Charades Phrase

When acting out a clue, a player must get the other players to guess what phrase they have without making any sounds, or saying any words.

Normally, when a player starts to act out a clue, he/she/it should start by indicating how many words the phrase is, and then acting out each word at a time. You indicate to the other players how many words are in the phrase is by holding up fingers. If the phrase is, 'Fly Me To the Moon', you would hold up 5 fingers, to indicate 5 words. The players who are guessing should respond by saying the number of words aloud, "5 words". Next, if the player wants to act out the first word of the phrase 'Fly', then the player should hold up 1 finger, to indicate they want to act out the first word. The players who are guessing should respond by saying '1st word'.

The player can help push the guessers into the right direction by using some standard gestures for categories.

  • Book - Unfold your hands as if they were a book.
  • Movie - Pretend to crank an old-fashioned movie camera.
  • Play - Pretend to pull the rope that opens a theater curtain.
  • Song - Pretend to sing. (but don't make any noise!!)
  • TV - Draw a rectangle to outline the TV screen.
  • Quote or Phrase: Make quotation marks in the air with your fingers.

Now go play!

If you have any suggestions on how to update these rules, please submit them below, where it says 'Tell Us What You Think'.