5 Party Games to Encourage Connection

A group of friends celebrating Christmas, laughing

It’s the holiday season—time for parties and play! Whether you’re feeling joyous or lonely, connection is what we all long for. In the book The Gifts of Imperfection, author Brené Brown reminds us, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all women, men, and children.”

As we put down our smart phones long enough to notice the twinkle lights and join in the jolliness, here are some fun ideas for connecting at your next gathering.

1. Jingle

This one is a great getting-to-know-you type of game. Here’s how you play:

  • Gather a group. Designate someone as the leader and hand them a bell.
  • Begin to “mingle” (or “jingle” if it’s a holiday-ish party) by dancing or cha-cha-ing around the space singing “mingle, mingle, mingle!” (or “jingle, jingle, jingle!”).
  • After a certain amount of time, the leader should ring the bell, and everyone should find a partner.
  • The leader then asks all partners to connect in one or two silly ways (“elbow to elbow!”, “thumb to thumb!”, or “forehead to forehead!”).
  • After partners are touching, the leader asks a question, such as:
    • How many siblings do you have?
    • How many countries have you travelled to?
    • What’s your favorite yoga pose?
    • What is your go-to holiday comfort food?
    • If you could be any animal, what would it be?
  • Share your answer with your partner.
  • After a few moments, the leader should ring the bell and everyone should resume mingling.
  • Repeat five or six times. Not only will you have gotten to know some folks better, you’ll have some new conversation starters up your (ugly sweater) sleeves.

2. Smile

An oldie but a goodie. This can be played anytime, anywhere. Great for parties and everyday life. Here’s how you play:

  • Curl the edges of your mouth up.
  • Decide if you’ll show teeth.
  • Aim the manifestation of your inner light toward someone. Anyone. See if they smile back.
  • Repeat!

Here are the two great things about this game: a) no one even needs to know you’re playing a game, and b) even if you don’t feel like smiling, the physical act of manipulating the many, many muscles of your face into the international symbol for “I see you, I recognize you, you are accepted” causes neuropeptides, serotonin, and endorphins to be released. This means that when you play this game you’ll feel good, which in turn bolsters your immunity, making you feel good longer.

Even if you start out forcing yourself to smile, you’ll probably start smiling genuinely. This will likely create a ripple effect: those who are lucky enough to receive your beaming smile will feel a glow from within and may muster an authentic smile themselves (you’ve heard that smiling is contagious, right? Well it is!). Not only will you have made someone’s day, you might even get a heart-to-heart conversation out of the deal. Go ahead, try it now!

3. Breathe

This one is best done in a quiet setting. You can gather a group of friends and pair up, or you can find a partner and a corner at a party.

  • Find a partner and introduce yourself.
  • Sit comfortably back to back. You can cross your legs or keep your knees bent with your feet on the floor. Sit close enough that you can feel your partner supporting your back.
  • Allow your hands to rest on your knees and close your eyes. Breathe naturally for a few moments.
  • Next, without using your words, begin to coordinate your breath with your partner’s breath: inhale together, exhale together. Focus on full, deep breaths. Notice how it feels to breathe in unison with another. Notice the emotions that arise as you sit. Close your eyes and just be.
  • After a few minutes of sitting together, take in one big breath and retain it for five seconds, then exhale audibly.
  • Turn around and share with your experience with your partner. Listen with compassion.

4. Laugh

What better way to connect with others than sharing a laugh? Here you’ll need a little space for this laughing puddle pile. Gather a group.

  • The first person reclines on the ground and rests their head on a pillow.
  • The next person reclines and rests their head on that person’s belly. The next person rests their head on that person’s belly—and so on.
  • Begin by breathing full, deep breaths.
  • Then, begin laughing; start with a giggle, a chuckle, a snort, a guffaw. Fake it till you make it and watch it catch on.

Studies show that laughing and smiling reduce anxiety and stress and increase joy and gratitude (no surprise there!). This game ends when/if the laughing peters out. You can return to easy breathing and finish with hugs.

5. Handshake

Here is a simple and sweet way to connect:

  • Face a friend and bring your right hands to touch.
  • Extend all fingers straight up and wrap your thumb around your friend’s hand in a handshake “hug.” You’ll likely feel like you’re a kid again and a joy bubble of nostalgia may make you burst into uninhibited grins or giggles (see game #2 for all the benefits of doing that).
  • Share a happy childhood memory of play or a time when you felt free.
  • Repeat with another friend with your left hand.

An alternative add-on to this game is to make-up your own private handshake, a sure sign of friendship and belonging.

We have thousands of nerves and energy receptors in our hands, loving extensions of our heart chakras. Touching another person’s hand in an intentionally compassionate manner offers connection and comfort.


Connection is what we all long for, especially during the holiday season. We invite you to reconnect to what you desire most this year at our signature meditation and yoga retreat, Seduction of SpiritClick here to learn more.


 

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About the Author
woman smiling in yoga pose

Lena Schmidt

Certified Yoga Instructor
Whether it’s exploring the local trails, playing pretzel on the yoga mat, or diving into a book on inner peace, Lena loves an adventure. You can find her teaching yoga in San Diego, leading retreats near and far, and empowering others to be the change they wish to see in the world. Learn more about Lena at www.yoginilena.com The spiritual aspects of yoga have aided Lena in the never-ending search for peace, calm, and positivity within, and she’s passionate about sharing these tools with others. She is intentional about taking yoga off the mat and loves finding the bridges between the heart and mind, the individual and community, and mindfulness and expression...Read more