How to Play Charades

Charades is a classic party game that’s all about non-verbal communication and guessing. It’s suitable for players of all ages and can be played with any number of people, though it’s typically more fun with larger groups. Here’s a simple guide on how to play:


  1. Teams: Divide the players into two or more teams. Each team should have at least two players.
  2. Charade Cards/Topics: Prepare slips of paper with words or phrases written on them. These can be anything from movie titles, book titles, actions, famous people, objects, etc. Place these slips into a bowl or hat.
A group playing charades

Game Play

  1. Taking Turns: Teams take turns having one of their members act out a charade. The actor randomly selects a slip of paper and reads it silently.
  2. Timer: Set a time limit for each turn (usually 1-2 minutes).
  3. Acting Out: The actor must then convey the word or phrase to their teammates without speaking, singing, or mouthing the words. They can use gestures, miming, and facial expressions.
  4. Guessing: The actor’s teammates try to guess the word or phrase before the time runs out.
  5. Scoring: If the team guesses correctly within the time limit, they earn a point. If not, no points are awarded for that round.

Rules and Tips

  • No Talking: The actor cannot use any words or sounds.
  • No Props: The actor cannot use objects in the room as props.
  • Standard Gestures: There are some common gestures in charades, like pretending to crank a movie camera for a movie title, or miming opening a book for a book title.
  • Passing: Depending on your rules, you may allow a pass where the actor can skip a difficult word, but this usually comes with a penalty, like the loss of a point.

Ending the Game

  • The game typically ends after a set number of rounds or once every player has had a turn to act. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Charades is flexible and can be adapted to fit the age and preferences of the players. For younger children, use simpler words or concepts, and for a more challenging game with adults, use abstract phrases or idioms. It’s a great game for encouraging creativity and teamwork!

Mimicking gestures for Charades

Common Charades Gestures:

We have compiled a list of common Charades gestures that can help you play the game at a more advanced level and serve as a base for understanding and demonstrating actions in the game:

  1. Number of Words: Holding up fingers to indicate the number of words in the phrase or title, where one finger represents one word, two fingers for two words, and so on πŸ‘†.
  2. Number of Syllables: Tapping on the forearm or near the elbow with one finger for each syllable in a word πŸ‘†βž‘οΈπŸ‘‚.
  3. Sounds Like: Tugging or cupping one ear, indicating that a word sounds like the one being mimed πŸ‘‚.
  4. Whole Thing: Circling hands together, often used to indicate that someone should guess the entire phrase or title πŸ”„.
  5. Thumbs Up (Guessing Right): Giving a thumbs up to indicate that a guess is correct or to show approval of a correct answer πŸ‘.
  6. Old: A mimed action of using a walking cane or hunching over, suggesting old age πŸ‘΄ or πŸ‘΅.
  7. New: Brushing the hands together as if unveiling or presenting something new πŸ†•.
  8. Rhyming Words: A motion similar to singing or rhyming, possibly miming holding a microphone 🎀.
  9. Correct Guess (Another Option for Thumbs Up): Nodding the head vigorously or clapping hands to indicate a correct guess or agreement βœ….
Common charades gestures

Here are some additional gestures often used in charades to convey different common ideas or actions:

  1. Book Title πŸ“–: Mimicking opening a book with both hands.
  2. Movie Title πŸŽ₯: Cranking an old-fashioned movie camera with one hand, while the other hand acts as the camera.
  3. TV Show πŸ“Ί: Drawing a rectangle in the air to represent a TV screen.
  4. Song Title 🎀: Pretending to sing into a microphone.
  5. Play Title 🎭: Mimicking the action of pulling back a large curtain.
  6. Quote or Phrase πŸ’¬: Making quotation marks in the air with both hands.
  7. Bigger/Longer Word πŸ‘: Stretching both hands apart to indicate a long or big word.
  8. Smaller/Shorter Word πŸ‘Œ: Pinching fingers close together to indicate a small or short word.
  9. Skip or Pass 🀚➑️🀚: Swiping hands across each other or making a forward pushing motion to indicate passing on a word or phrase.
  10. Letter or Initial ✍️: Tracing a letter in the air, usually the first letter of the word.
  11. Number or Counting ⌚: Tapping the wrist where a watch would be, to ask for a number or to indicate counting.
  12. Repeat πŸ”: Circling a finger in the air to indicate repeating an action or a guess.
  13. Opposite/Negative πŸ‘Ž: Crossing arms into an ‘X’ or giving a thumbs down to indicate the opposite of what was guessed or something negative.
  14. Location or Place πŸ“: Making a horizontal ‘L’ shape with both arms to represent a landmark or location.
  15. Animal 🐾 : Mimicking animal actions, like flapping arms for a bird or scratching an ear like a dog.

These gestures can be pretty helpful in helping players guess the category or specific words during a game of charades.

a group playing charades

Charades is a fun and engaging party game that encourages creativity and teamwork. Players take turns acting out words or phrases without speaking while their teammates try to guess the answer within a set time limit. The game is highly adaptable, suitable for all ages, and does not require special equipment. Remembering the basic rules – no talking, no props, and using standard gestures – will ensure everyone has a great time. Whether it’s at a family gathering, a party with friends, or a team-building event, Charades is a timeless game that’s sure to bring laughter and enjoyment.