Ocean Family Road Trip

Parlour Games

We’ve been playing a few Parlour Games lately and they are hilarious. They are a great way to simply laugh and have fun with people.

Here is an excerpt from the book UNBORED by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Carsen, of our two favorite Parlour Games:


“In each round of Wink Murder, one player is randomly assigned the role of Murderer, and one the role of Detective; the other players are Victims. Write “Murderer” and “Detective” on slips of paper, mix the up with other slips that read “Victim,” and have everyone pick a slip out of a bowl. The players sit in a circle; everyone must be able to see everyone else’s face. The Detective reveals her identity to the group, then the round begins. One by one, the Murderer makes eye contact with a Victim and “murders” him – by winking at him. (If you are winks at, you must “die” dramatically.) The object of the Murderer is to wink-murder as many players as possible before the Detective identifies him. The objective of the Detective is to identify the accuse the Murderer. She may only make one accusation; if she guesses incorrectly, the Murderer wins.

Wink Murder variations

There are several variants of Wink Murder. In one, the Detective must sit in the center of the circle of players. In another, the Detective is allowed to make one or two wrong accusations. In another variant, an Accomplice may kill on Victim; if she is accused, the Murderer wins. In the game Vampire Murder, the Murderer is a Vampire; she kills not by winking but by baring her teeth.”


“One player leaves the room; the others choose an activity that she commonly performs. For example: “ride the bus to school,””watch baseball on TV.”The player who left the room is then called back in. She tries to discover what the mystery activity is by asking yes/no questions, substituting the word “coffeepot” for the verb. For example: “Do I coffeepot outdoors?””Do I coffeepot with friends?” She continues until she’s figured in out; or you can give her a certain number of tries.

A Coffeepot variation

Here’s another version of Coffeepot. One player leaves the room; the others choose a common noun or verb. The first player returns, and tries to discover the mystery word by asking each player a different question. The answers don’t need to be truthful, but the must include the mystery word – however, instead of actually saying that word, the player says “coffeepot.” For example, if the mystery word is “minivan,” and the first question is, “What does your family do for fun?” the answer might be: “We take our coffeepot to the park and we go rollerblading.” If the second question is. “Who is your favorite movie monster?” the answer might be: “King Kong, because he squashes coffeepots as he stomps down the street.”

We usually play Coffeepot with nouns. Once you’ve played a few rounds you can pick tricker words. I got “electricity,” Joe got “gluten.” Judy got “the poop currently in Sam’s diaper.” Ellie was laughing as Judy questioned “can I write with it?” “Is it hot.” Ellie was slapping her leg, scrunching her nose up and throwing her head back giggling. Jerome got “light saber” which is made of a mineral but not real.

What I love most about Parlour games is how they get everyone laughing. How dramatically can Grandma die during Wink Murder? Wow Grandma, I didn’t think you had that in you. When the 4 year old Detective guesses you immediately without you making a move!

As a worldschooling Mother, I’m always looking for the learning in whatever we are doing and Parlour games are great for public speaking skills. Sometimes while playing, the kids have had to address an audience of 25 plus! Sometimes you have to argue your point, think out of the box, and take risks. Maybe you’re going to guess wrong and the crowd may laugh. Coffeepot is great for improving your memory, logical thinking and problem solving. Quick fire questioning and persistence wins out in the end.

In Wink Murder, kids also practice the important art of reading and displaying body language. Is everyone looking at the murderer giving them away? Is someone shifting uncomfortably in their chair or grinning stupidly?!

Next time you are hanging out with another family or some friends,  give Parlour games a whirl and have some fun.

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