Non-Cheesy Dinner Party Games for Adults

Avoid awkward silences, boring conversations, and small talk, and give your dinner party a facelift by preparing one of these five, dinner party games for adults. I promise it’ll have your guests more engaged, laughing harder, and bring out just the right level of competition without making you cringe.

Come dine with me dinner party game for adults

1. Come Dine With Me Dinners

This dinner party game for adults takes a bit of preparation and time commitment. However, it’s totally worth the planning if you and your friends like to cook.

What is it?

Come Dine With Me is a game based on the popular British food show, Come Dine With Me. On the show, a group of 4 couples (strangers), take turns dining at each others’ homes. At each dinner party, one of the four couples, hosts and cooks everyone dinner. Guests rate their experience from ambiance to food, and the marks are tallied up at the end of the four dinners to determine a winner.

In this case, you’d do it with a group of friends, not strangers, and throw in a bit of prize money.

Why do it?

Everyone likes a little bit of competition, and this is precisely that. Plus, you’ll have four dinners to look forward to by committing.

How to play?

  1. Pick your team. Round up three couples who like to host and cook and confirm they’re ready to commit to four dinner parties.
  2. Select the dates. Select four dates that work for everyone can make over the next month or two.
  3. Create a budget. Select a maximum budget for the dinners (for example, up to $150, including drinks), so people don’t go overboard with expensive ingredients.
  4. Find out about allergies and preferences. Make a list of everybody’s allergies and dietary requirements in a Google Doc. Be sure to include the calendar of events as well. Share with everyone in the group.
  5. Decide how much you want to wager. Decide on a fair dollar amount each couple has to contribute (say $20) and how you will be judged.
  6. Select the order. Randomly select which couple goes first using a picker like Wheel of Names.
  7. Have fun. Dinner party away!
Blind taste test with beer

2. Blind Taste Tests

What is it?

Blind taste tests are one of my go-to dinner party games for adults. They’re friendly competitions that reveal the preferred and least liked type of food or drink. Chris and I have done taste tests for so many different things – from wine to coffee to California rolls and they’re always a blast.

Why do it?

Firstly, taste tests are fun. They almost always teach you something new about a particular food or drink and demonstrate the influence of packaging and branding.

Prove to your wine-snob friends that expensive wine isn’t always better. Or, prove that gas station coffee is just as good if not better than the hipster coffee roastery in town that sells it for three times the price.

It’s fun to see people’s reactions, discover what people like, and make engaging conversation throughout the night. Plus, having your guests bring part of the dinner lightens your load puts you ahead of the game to host a stress-free dinner party.

How to play?

If you’re not sure how to host a blind taste test, read this post Chris and I wrote on The Unconventional Route, giving you easy steps to throwing a blind taste test at home with your friends.

Drawing from a Telestrations game
When the term “stuck on a deserted island” turns into something completely different.

3. Telestrations

What is it?

Telestrations is a simple dinner party game for adults that requires a tiny bit of prep and a lot of imagination.

Sure, you can use the actual board game Telestrations, but if you don’t have it, it’s not a problem and is almost better when you get to decide the topics. It’s a fun pre or post-dinner activity that unleashes peoples’ creativity, without being too serious.

Why do it?

Telestrations is a perfect dinner party game for adults to play if you’re short on time, yet still want to plan a little pre or post-dinner activity. It works well for groups that don’t know each other that well and reveals peoples’ creative abilities and ability to work under pressure.

How to play?

Before your guests arrive, prepare the notepads. Use scrap paper and create mini pads of paper with enough sheets of paper for every guest. For example, if you’re a group of eight, you should have eight pieces of paper in each notepad. In the top right-hand corner, number the pages 1 through 8. Staple the sheets together and set aside.

When you’re ready to play, give everyone a pad and a pen.

To start, everyone must write down one phrase or word that the others will have to draw and guess on page 1. Let’s use “Canadian winter” as our phrase, for example. After I’ve written the statement, I pass my pad of paper to my right. My neighbor then draws what he or she thinks what a Canadian winter looks like to them, and draw it on page 2. My neighbor’s neighbor then looks at this drawing on page 2 and describes what they see, in writing, on page 3. The game finishes once your stack has gone around the table, and you get it back in your hands.

Then, you get to share the evolution of your story with the group. Feel free to embarrass your friends showing off their childish drawings and wild guesses.

4. Salad Bowl

What is it?

Salad Bowl is a fun variation of charades that can be a great dinner party game for adults or kids. You don’t need much and it can be an easy introduction and ice-breaker or a hilarious ending to a sloppy night.

Why do it?

It requires zero prep (you just need paper, pens, and a bowl) and it’s easy to play with any group. It’s also relatively short and doesn’t take all night.

How to play?

Ask everyone at the table to write down five words on the slips of paper you provide. They might be the name of a famous person, a city, a movie or book, or even a favorite food. Fold up all the papers and place them into a salad bowl.

Divide the group into two teams (or three if you’re more than 10 people) and explain the rules of the game. The goal of the game is to get through the most number of words in the bowl by explaining the words/phrases the quickest. Team 1 goes first, then Team 2 and there are 3 rounds.

Round one: verbal clues
The player picks a word from the bowl and describes it to his teammates without actually saying the word. Once the word is correctly guessed, he or she can pick up another word from the bowl and continues picking until his 1-minute turn is up.

Round two: charades
In the second round, the player picks a word from the bowl and acts it out without talking. Once it’s guessed, he picks a new word and continues until his or her turn is up.

Round three: one-word clue
For this last round, a player picks a word from the bowl and gives one verbal clue to get his teammates to guess the correct word. The team with the most points after all three rounds wins.

dinner party games for adults - cocktail competition
In Medellin for one of our dinner parties, we prepared syrups, citrus, and alcohol for people to make their cocktails.

5. Cocktales

What is it?

Cocktales is the name of the game that we played on my birthday a few years ago. Each guest prepares a cocktail that has to do with the host(s), and the group rates the cocktail based on presentation, story, and taste. If you’re the host and don’t want to be the center of attention, pick a theme instead of a person.

Why do it?

This dinner party game gets your guests’ creative juices flowing and allows people to feel comfortable early on in the night.

Tip: Be careful not to pour full-sized cocktails here (get couples to share, at least) otherwise, your dinner party will get a bit sloppy. I speak from experience.

How to play?

Let your guests know about the competition in advance. Decide whether or not you want to provide all the ingredients for people, or just the basics. I think providing the basics is more than enough and allows people to get more creative. I also recommend letting couples make one cocktail unless they’re keen to make one each.

Here are some essential bartender pantry items you could provide:

  • ice
  • cocktail shakers
  • glasses
  • simple syrup
  • citrus (lime and lemons)
  • bitters
  • shot glasses
  • soda water
  • blender

Prepare scorecards on scrap paper with space for people to write down comments about each category (presentation, story, and taste). Collect enough pens for everyone as well. Ask guests to rate their favorite cocktail from worst to best.

When your guests arrive, put numbers in a hat and let people choose the order they present. Give everyone a maximum of 5-7 minutes to prepare their cocktail and a couple of minutes to present them. After everyone has gone, go around the room and have people discuss each cocktail and name their favorite.

You can prepare a small prize for the winner (an ice-cube tray or a bottle of bitters) or just let them revel in their glory.

Feeling Inspired?

Hopefully, you have some new ideas for activities to play with your friends at your next dinner party. I’d love to hear what your favorite dinner party games for adults are and how you make your dinner parties more memorable.

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