Ice Breaker Activities and
Fun Team Building Games

ice breaker activities for family

Ice breaker activities make excellent team bonding activities and get to know you games. In a large group, an icebreaker game lightens the mood and increases interaction. These are perfect ice breaker party games for the family reunion.

Who says that because you're family you'll know one another? It's just not so. Families grow and change just as much as the individuals in them. Since your last family reunion, chances are good that a lot has changed. Cousin Sally is remarried and has 4 step-kids, Uncle Harold lost 50 pounds, and your nieces and nephews suddenly grew 12 inches and look like their older siblings. (How does that happen, anyway??) You need a few good ice breaker activities!

Group ice breakers and introductory activities:

  • make excellent getting to know you activities at the beginning of any special event or function, including (or perhaps I should say "especially") the family reunion
  • facilitate interaction
  • make getting reacquainted a natural and fun part of your reunion
    and
  • create an energetic, positive atmosphere

Read on for Great ice breaker party games in the following categories:

Ice Breaker Activities for When People Arrive

Fun Icebreaker Games

Introductory Activities

Teambuilding Icebreakers

Icebreaker Games for Kids

ice breaker activities
for when people arrive

It's always a good idea to have something for people to do when they first arrive. Not only will fun team building games and ice breaker activities provide for interaction and bonding opportunities for your family, but they will jump start the conversation and help guests avoid potential awkward moments. I like these particular ice breaker activities because they're completely optional - they offer something to do if your guests need them, but they're not required and it's not terribly obvious if someone chooses not to participate. 

Mystery Counting

Fill a jar (or several jars of various sizes) with candy. Guests write on a small piece of paper how many pieces of candy they think are in the jar. The one closest to the actual number, wins the candy.

Mystery Counting variation

Instead of candy in a jar, guess how many seeds are in an orange or number of words on a newspaper. Guess the length of a string wrapped in a ball, the quantity of water in a bucket or the weight of a head of lettuce.

Mystery Touch

Place various items in several containers (such as paper bags or cardboard boxes) and let participants feel inside each and guess the contents. Look for items that vary in texture and contain an element of surprise. Try squishy balls, sand paper, plastic toy figures, ooblek, fleece fabric, grass, marbles - whatever you can think of.

Family Timeline

Mount several pieces of paper or poster board in a row along a wall. Draw a horizontal line and begin a timeline by filling in basic dates, such as when the "Mom and Dad" of the gathering group were born and the "today" date of the current family reunion. Invite everyone to help complete the family timeline by filling in birthdates, anniversaries, current events, etc.

 -take the E-Course -

PLANNING & PRINTING FAMILY REUNION MEMORIES
Work through the family reunion planning process by
focusing on three phases of printed materials.

It's Free!

Baby Pictures

Collect baby pictures beforehand from family that will be in attendance. Have participants guess which picture belongs to whom. For clues, you could provide current pictures in addition to the baby pictures, or provide list of names to choose from.

Pictures Variation

Alter these ice breaker activities as needed. For example, instead of identifying reunion attendees by their baby picture, use pictures of ancestors (ages could vary) and let attendees guess who's who.

Do You Know Me?

As people arrive, give each individual an index card and a nametag of another person. They must circulate and ask questions of everyone about the person on the nametag, using the phrase "Do you know me?" The index card is used to jot down clues, conversations and information collected. When everyone arrives, or at the end of a designated period of time, each person uses their notes to introduce the person on their nametag.

fun icebreaker games

These group icebreakers and ice breaker activities are perfect get to know you games for the family's initial gathering at the reunion.

Talk Fest

Form two rows of people and have them stand back to back. On a given signal, everyone turns to face each other and talks non-stop - about anything and everything - for 30 seconds.

Broom Dance

This is a variation of musical chairs, played with an odd number of people and one broom. While the music plays, everyone dances in pairs. When the music stops, everyone has to switch partners. One person will end up having to dance with the broom during the next song or until the music stops again.

Dictionary

Someone picks an unfamiliar word from the dictionary and asks everyone to write a made-up meaning to the word. Everyone takes turns reading their definition and then guessing the correct version. If you want to keep points, divide into teams and pick one word and definition to read to the other team. Each member of the guessing team has a chance to say "yes," that's the true meaning of the word, or "no," it's not. The reading team scores one point for every "no." Score the most points by finding strange words with unlikely definitions.

Two Truths and a Lie

Everyone writes three things about themselves on a piece of paper - two true statements and one lie. Each person then reads their own statements and everyone else tries to guess which one is false. 

Two Truths and a Lie Variation

Alter ice breaker activities as needed. For this variation, gather everyone's statements, which were written withOUT names attached. Then read one card at a time, first guessing who wrote the statements and then guessing which statement is false.

Human Bingo

Give everyone a piece of paper with a series of questions on it, in bingo format (squares). Guests must circulate and find someone who can answer "yes" to a question and sign their name in that square. No one can sign for two questions. Play until everyone (or not) gets a "bingo."

sample bingo squares:

has been a competitive athlete
has completed a 5K
knows how to ballroom dance
can name ___ (number) of cousins
is from ___ (state or town)
has traveled abroad
can speak more than 2 languages
knows when the family picture is scheduled
shares your same zodiac sign

Show & Tell

Beforehand, ask everyone to bring something to the social/dinner/reunion that means something special to them. Take turns sharing. (If they brought nothing to "show," participants simply "tell.")

Ice Breaker Activities
As introductory activities

These ice breaker activities are meant to help everyone remember each other's names.

Autographs

Games that include collecting signatures make great ice breaker activities. Find the person's name on your list (or in the family directory) and get them to sign. Better yet - find out how each person is related and then get them to sign.

Who Am I

Place nametags of other people on each person's back. Participants have to ask everyone else questions to figure out the name on their back. When they find out who they are, participants can switch the nametag to the front. This game is often played with names of famous people. But you could also use names of ancestors or fictional characters. You could even alter the game by using nametags of other family members in attendance. Have everyone ask questions that will lead them to the real person who's nametag they are wearing.

M&M's

Without stating why, invite everyone to grab a small handful of m&m's but not eat them (yet). For every m&m, each person must say one thing about themselves. This also works well with a roll of toilet paper. Pass the roll around and invite everyone to tear off some toilet paper - as much as they want. Then each person must say something about themselves for every toilet paper square.

Do You Love Your Neighbor

This is one of my favorite ice breaker activities. Everyone stands in a large circle. One person, the caller in the middle of the circle, begins by asking someone, "_____, do you love your neighbor?" He/she can answer one of two ways. If he/she says, "Yes, I love my neighbors, _____ and _____, but I REALLY love people ______ (who have May birthdays, from Texas, who are wearing red, etc.)," then everyone matching the stated criteria must find a new spot in the circle, at least three spaces away. The person answering the initial question may also say, "No, I do not love my neighbors, _____ and _____," at which point those two people must trade places. In either scenario, the person without a spot after everyone moves, is the next caller.

We'd Like to Welcome

This is one of those ice breaker activities that work well at the beginning of your family dinner or picnic. Create a list of categories or characteristics reflective of the members of your family. (Or you could format this game as a getting to know you quiz.) Announce each category one at a time, inviting everyone to whom the statement applies to stand. This is a great attention grabber, plus it's fun to look around and see who's done what. Start with something like, "We'd like to welcome all members of the ___ family."

relevant welcome statements:

everyone over the age of 75
individuals who have joined the family since the last reunion
all teenagers
everyone out of state
everyone attending college
those who have gone on a date in the last month
everyone who arrived by car/plan/other
everyone with a May birthday
those who love to golf
anyone who has given birth
all grandparents
first-time moms
those who love to cook
those who hate to cook
those who never cook
those who wish they could cook
everyone who has checked their email (or Facebook) at least once today
those who do not own a cell phone
those who are wearing pink underwear
everyone who belongs to a family

Shoe Game

Everyone takes off their shoes, ties them together and places them in the center of the circle. Someone comes forward, chooses a pair of shoes and makes a statement about the shoes' owner based on the condition and/or characteristics of the shoes. (For example, "This person loves fashion.") The owner of the shoes then introduces him/herself and picks out the next pair.

Where Were You?

Pick a date or year and give each person the chance to tell what they were doing during that time.

ICE BREAKER ACTIVITIES
AS TEAMBUILDING ICEBREAKERS

Teamwork games are great for families because they become family bonding activities. Even more than corporations and college teams, families need to function as cohesive units, as teams. Wondering how to improve communication skills within the family? Use fun teambuilding games.

Gum Art

(This is one of those ice breaker activities that teenagers should love.) Give everyone big chunks of bubble gum to chew and divide into groups. Using only toothpicks (NO hands), groups work together to create a beautiful gum sculptures. Award prizes such as, "the gooey-est," "most creative," etc.

Human Knot

Everyone stands in a circle and holds hands with someone else in the circle. You cannot hold hands with either person standing directly beside you. Then, without letting go, everyone must climb, bend, twist and turn to untangle the circle. To change things up, add blindfolds to one or many participants. Groups of 8-10 work best.

Frozen T's

Before hand, place a crumpled or folded t-shirt in a plastic bag with several cups of water and freeze solid. Make one frozen t-shirt for each team and keep them frozen until it's time to play. When it's time to play, the first team to thaw the shirt enough for someone to wear, wins.

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Nonverbal Introductions

Similar to a game of charades, have everyone introduce themselves or pantomime something about themselves, without talking. Work as one big group or divide into teams and keep score.

ICE BREAKER ACTIVITIES
BECOME ICEBREAKER GAMES FOR KIDS

Just like adults, kids can benefit from fun icebreaker games, too. These are easy ice breaker activities that you can have in your back pocket in case you need them or have them set up on a side of the room and ready to go as guests arrive.

Balloon Bounce

How many times in a row can you bounce a balloon off your head? Stand kids in a circle and have one child go at a time OR have all the children take turns bouncing the balloon without letting it touch the ground. (If you're going to be outside and there's a chance of wind, save everyone some heartache and choose another game!)

Bean Bag Toss

Place a bean bag some distance away on the floor and create a line from which players stand to toss a second bean bag. The object is to get one bean bag as close as you can to the other bean bag - but withOUT having them touch.

Cereal Box City

This is one of many easy, fun team building games for kids. Provide a bunch of empty cereal boxes, some tape and a large work space. Have the kids work together to build a giant city. Add other recycled items and small toys, such as cars and people, as needed.

Treasure Hunt

Build a simple treasure hunt for the kids. If coming up with your own clues is too much brain strain (been there, done that), I recommend giving Treasure Adventures a try. They have many "print and play" treasure hunt games for all ages and functions.

Jelly Bean Hunt

Spread a bunch of different colored jelly beans in the grass. Then assign each child (or pairs or groups of children) a color and give them a small bag. On a given signal, they are to collect that particular color (and only their assigned color) of jelly beans. See who can collect the most within a given amount of time.

What's Missing

Place 8-10 random items on tray. Let the children look at and try to memorize what's there. Take the tray out of the room and remove 1-2 items from the tray. Present the remaining items to the group and let them figure out what's missing. 

submit your own ideas

What are your ideas for ice breaker activities and fun family reunion games?? Please share!

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