Imaginary Party is a creative exercise that works well with larger groups.
Benefits of this activity
- Enhances critical-thinking
- Encourages creativity
- Improves listening skills
- Many variations
- No props needed
There are many games and exercises out there that involve using a ‘key’ to solve a problem. ‘Come to my party’ is just one of these games, encouraging lateral thinking while having fun.
The ‘secret key,’ which is never obvious at first glance, is what you must decipher in order to solve the puzzle. Once you discover the ‘key’ it is very easy to complete the task at hand.
The group can be standing or sitting for this game, as long as everybody can clearly hear each other. Explain to the group that they must decipher the ‘key’ in order to work out the secret. The secret is a part of this specific game where members are invited to an imaginary party.
Once everybody is gathered together, announce to them that they are all invited to your party. The only requirement to join the party is for them to bring a certain ‘thing’ with them. This ‘thing’ can be food, an item or even a person etc.
To start everyone off, inform them you are going to bring a bunch of carrots. Allow the group to follow up with what they will bring to the party.
The Key: the ‘thing’ should be a word that has two of the same letters next to each other.
In other words, for you to be invited to the party, you will have to bring the correct ‘thing’ For example, berries, Bobby, scissors, beer etc.
During the game, give some subtle clues to help those who are struggling a bit to work out the ‘thing’. For example, say things like you can bring “scissors but not a fork” or “Bobby but not Mary” or “berries but not bananas”
So as to keep the group motivated, inform them that everybody will decipher the clue within 10 minutes. Applaud those who do get the clue and encourage those who are still trying. Those who have not brought something that can be spelt with two consecutive letters, cannot join the party, not yet anyway.
To start, the group will be a bit confused, but as the game progresses you will notice people catching on. During the game offer clues along the way, ones that get more obvious the longer the game carries on. For instance, tell those who are still struggling to consider what all the ‘things’ or words have in common with each other. Continue the game until all members have deciphered the ‘key.’
Contextual Framing Ideas
Introduce the game by inviting all members of the group to your imaginary party. Everybody must bring something to this party, but there is a catch. Every ‘thing’ you bring may not be accepted, it has to be correct in order for you to be invited.
On many occasions, each of us has probably been in a situation where something was right in front of us, but we just didn’t see it. Those of us with glasses may know the feeling, lost yours recently? Sometimes it may even be on top of our heads before we realize where they are. Well, this game is something like that…
Step-by-Step Instructions to facilitate Imaginary Party
- Have the group assemble so that everyone can hear each other clearly
- The aim of the exercise is to identify the ‘key,’ which will then unlock the secret to the challenge.
- Inform the group that they are all invited to your imaginary party.
- In order to be invited, each person must bring something. This ‘thing’ can be anything, such as an item, food or a person.
- Get some volunteers to start by asking them what they will be bringing.
- The Key: words with two consecutive letters in them
- The person must bring the correct ‘thing’ otherwise they are not invited.
- Example of the correct ‘thing’ includes: Bobby, Berries, Beer, Scissors, Book etc.
- During the game applaud those who decipher the key and encourage those who are still struggling.
- Provide more and more obvious clues until all members of the group discover the key.
Facilitators and Leaders Tips
This game can be played anywhere and can easily be played on a bus or around a campfire. You will be able to encourage some lateral-thinking, getting everybody to think outside the box. Sometimes the answer is obvious, but on other occasions, it may be hidden. You can use this exercise to make connections with things that occur in real life. The ‘key’ to certain things can be very subtle, yet it has an effect on the end result.
For example, picking up on subtle body language and gestures, which can affect the learning outcome of any classroom or group. The main aim of this type of exercise is not to annoy and frustrate a group but should be a fun learning experience. In order to achieve this, make sure you don’t play for longer than 10 – 15 minutes. Always provide the group with clues as the game progresses, so that everyone can discover the ‘key.’
When playing the game, ask the group to not share their answer of the ‘key’ with others. Make sure everybody understands that they will all be able to decipher the solution within a few minutes. Those who discover the ‘key’ for themselves will have more of a sense of accomplishment. Some members of the group may feel intimidated by the thought of playing a lateral-thinking game. They may have done something similar in the past and had a bad experience. These people may decide not to participate from the beginning. Take note of some presentation methods in order to avoid any negative responses to this activity. Introduce the exercise in a clear way in order to prevent misunderstandings.
- Bring everyone’s attention to the fact that the objective is to identify the ‘key.’ The activity doesn’t really have anything to do with a party, that is just for added fun. The game will help to enhance listening skills as well as bring focus onto the meaning of subtlety.
- The group should be made aware that the answer will come to everyone. This is important, as it will help to encourage interest. Inform the group the game will only last 10 – 15 minutes.
- Only use this type of game a maximum of once or twice, not everyone is favourable towards these exercises.
Debriefing and Reflection Strategies
Here are a few questions to ask the group, which will help them to process their experience of playing the game ‘Come To My Party’
- What were you feeling when playing the game, specifically when you didn’t know what the ‘key’ was?
- Did you feel stressed and under pressure to discover the ‘key’?
- What ‘clicked’ inside your mind, that helped you uncover the ‘key’?
- What did you feel when you discovered the ‘key’?
- Did you show empathy to those who hadn’t yet discovered the ‘key’? How did you do this?
Variations of Imaginary Party
- Key variations: Change the ‘key’ for example, all the ‘things’ must begin with a certain letter – Apple, Axe, Anthony…
- There are many more lateral-thinking games to play: Crossed or Uncrossed, The Man in the Moon, Jonny Oops, Magic Numbers and Dead or Alive?
- There are also games that focus on subtlety and building trust, such as ‘The Rock’