6. Charades

Equipment: nothing

How do you play charades ? Surely everyone knows this? It is a perennial favourite with my partner “I can’t ever think of anything else to play”. The key rules of charades are as follows. One player thinks of a TV show, Film, Book, Song or Band and the then acts out the appropriate title by miming to the rest of the players who form an audience. Obviously it must be something that is known to all the players.

The player who acts is not allowed to speak and stands in the centre. He or she first signals the genres from which the Title comes by miming ‘Film’ (winding up a movie camera-this is hung over from mechanical wind up days of movies) ‘Book’: opening in middle using hands as opposite pages. ‘Song’ is denoted by notes spilling from the mouth gesture from mouth to outside, and ‘Band’ by air guitar playing. Other a categories are possible. we have included types of animal for younger players. The audience shouts out the genre.

After establishing the category, the performing player then normally illustrates the number of words in the title using his/her fingers and, again and throughout, players in the audience shout out the answers ‘three words!’ or whatever. If the easiest way to mime the title is to  mime a particular word, then the performing player denotes the word number by  holding up the number of fingers. The mime of the word may not be immediately successful, the audience shouts out suggestions until then have the correct answer at which point the player puts one finger on their nose and points at the player who gave the correct answer. Or they could just do thumbs up. If the word is not guessed quickly, the performing player may try a different word.

If it is too hard to mime particular words, the performing player may break words into syllables, and mime each syllable individually. Syllable numbers are denoted by tapping fingers on forearms, in the same manner as word numbers except with fingers on flesh.  Another convention is to make a giant circle in front. This means ‘the whole thing’. The whole story can then by acted out. There are various other convention in charades that most people adopt. the first is to have two fingers make a ‘T’ shape if the word is ‘the’. The second is to have small words ‘in’ ‘on’ etc represented by a tiny distance between forefinger and thumb. The third is to waggle your earlobe meaning ‘sounds like’ or essentially ‘rhymes with’. Then the player mimes the word the correct word rhymes with.

Once a player in the audience has guessed the title correctly, it is this person’s turn to act as performing player. Parents should ensure all players get a fair number of goes. So there it is: Charades. I hope I have explained it adequately. Writing this series of instructions has at least proved to me that it really is much simpler to watch a game in order to learn it than to read (or write) a complicated set of rules.