Charades Rules (To Play with Family and Friends)

Charades is one of the most popular party games in the world. Depending on your creativity, improvisation skills, and willingness to act goofy, it can be hilariously funny. This step-by-step Charades rules guide explains how to play it.

Imagine that you’re trying to explain something specific – like a funny saying or the name of a movie – to someone who doesn’t speak your language. 

You’ll use your hands, facial expressions, and probably your whole body to impersonate the word. But sometimes, even the most creative performance is not enough.

That’s Charades, in a nutshell, one of the funniest guessing games ever. If you’re planning a game night with your friends or relatives, you cannot go wrong with it (see more nice game night ideas).

This action-packed party game is great for both young and old, and no two games are ever the same. Similar to Hedbanz (check Hedbanz rules), the player’s task is to guess a particular word or phrase, but this time, you cannot use a single word to describe it. 

This Charades rules guide will cover the following: 

  • What is Charades?
  • What you’ll need to play Charades
  • Charades rules
  • Easy Charades words
  • Hard Charades words
  • How to play Charades (video tutorial)
  • FAQs
  • Other similar games to Charades (our guides)

Read on and learn how to play Charades with your family and friends.

What is Charades?

Charades is one of the oldest still played party games in the world. People played it in parlors from at least the 18th century. Now it’s a common pastime at family gatherings, kids clubs, and schools.

Number of Players: 2+ players

Ages: 4+

Difficulty: Easy 

Length of Play: 20 – 40 minutes

Category: Word guessing party game

Similar to: PictionaryHedbanz, It’s In the Bag 

Main Objective: Players perform and guess charades in rival teams earning points for each success.

Why We Love It: Charades is hilarious as you can perfectly adapt it to your skills, interests, or even real-life experiences, making it highly personalized fun.

What You’ll Need to Play Charades

Charades is a classic party game you can play with or without a ready-made game set. If you decide on free play, all you need is paper, a pen, and lots of creativity to invent your charades (I will provide you with some inspiration shortly!)

Nevertheless, you can also make it easier with one of the commercial Charades game sets, providing you with all you need to play right out of the box.

Since the concept of charades is not licensed, the game sets are made by different producers and can differ greatly. My favorite is Family Charades by Outset, which comprises six categories that work as individual games.

The package contains:

  • 30-second sand-timer
  • Six decks with charades cards (60 cards each)
  • One spinner 
  • One pencil
  • One score pad
  • Set of instructions
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08/04/2022 06:22 pm GMT

Charades Rules and Gameplay

Playing Charades is very easy. There are a few rules to follow, and scoring is straightforward. However, some players might need time to learn how to play it well, letting go of their reservations and unleashing their creativity.

In this guide, I will explain the rules of the Family Charades game set mentioned above. Nevertheless, they can also be applied to free play or similar sets with some adjustments.

Starting the Game

First, pick one of the six decks of cards. Each targets a different category of players:

  • Picture Charades: No words, just pictures. This is ideal for preschoolers (4+). 
  • Kids Charades: This simplified deck is suitable for kids of school age (7+).
  • Family Charades: Hillarious charades for both kids and adults (8+)
  • Animal Party: Funny animal sayings – wacky fun for the whole family (10+) 
  • Hollywood: Movies, music, fun facts from the pop culture (12+)
  • Time Capsule: Nostalgic 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s charades (14+) 

Note: You can even play two charade games simultaneously. For example, if one of your teams includes younger players, they can use the Kids Charades deck, whereas the all-adult team will play with another deck.

When you’ve picked your game:

  • Shuffle the selected deck of cards and place them face down on the table. 
  • Divide the players into teams. Each consists of at least two players.
  • Pick a scorekeeper – a player who keeps a record of both teams’ scores.

How to Play Charades

The team with the youngest player goes first. They pick one of their players to be the actor(every team member should try this role during the gameplay).

The actor draws one card from the draw pile. He is not allowed to show it to anyone else. Then it’s time to spin the spinner, one of the distinctive elements in the commercial version of Charades.

Spinner: How does it work?

Each card contains three charades. The spinner determines which one should be performed:

  • #1: Act the first charade
  • #2: Act the second charade
  • #3: Act the third charade
  • You Pick: Pick the charade you want
  • They Pick: Opponents pick your charade
  • All Three: Act all three charades in any order

Performing the charade

Next to each charade is a number indicating how long the actor is allowed to act (and his teammates to guess). It can be either 30, 60, or 90 seconds. 

This period is measured with the included 30-second sand-timer(turn it around as many times as you need). If you perform “All Three,” the period is automatically set to 90 seconds total.

When an actor performs a charade, there are several actions to avoid:

  • No verbal communication (including humming, etc.)
  • No silent articulation or drawing in air/on objects with fingers
  • No pointing at any objects, furniture, or person

Otherwise, you can use your whole body, face, and gestures to demonstrate the meaning of your charade. Your teammates will guess the charade within the given time.

Note: If you play with the same people frequently, you will develop your joint language of gestures for various words, making winning much easier. It is recommended to change the charades often to keep the game fun. 

How to evaluate a charade

Your teammates must guess the charade fully and accurately – just like it stands on the card (e.g., correct tense, order of the words, etc.)

The rules are relaxed if you play the pictures charades(intended for preschoolers). You can accept any guess that understandably interprets the picture. You can also play without a timer or stick to one team to eliminate the pressure.

When the time runs out, place the used card at the bottom of the pile. Then the next team (clockwise) is on the turn.

Charades Scoring 

  • If your mates guess the charade correctly and in time, your team scores 1 point.
  • If your teammates don’t guess the charade correctly, you score 0 points.
  • If you catch “All Three,” your team scores 1 point per each guessed charade.
  • The scorekeeper will log the score into the score card.

Who wins Charades?

The game continues for 12 rounds. Then you count the scores. 

The team with the highest score wins the game. 

Easy Charades Words

Have you decided to play a free game of Charades without an official game set? Here’s an inspiration for some simple charade words you can start with:

airplanespoonbinoculars
boatdoorbicycle
babystairschew
eyesrugchewing gum
nosecomputerclap
headdoorbellslap
earsbathknee
scissorsfloorankle
coughgrassneck
coldsnowquiet
phonesicknessscared
laughbirthangry
scissordeathmad
coughyelltired
coldfightasleep
phonekisscheek
blinksmilechin
hairbrushcameraarm
sneezeplaystationfinger
spinbasketballwhistle
hammerfootballiron
bookrugbylick
toothbrushtennissneeze
jumphorsehug
cargolffrog
lampringplease
glasswatchyes
tienecklaceno
flydressbroom
balltrousersladder
archersockstail
ghosthatstop
balancecoatwalk
shoelacessofaback
sicktablealligator
balloonpillowbaseball
banana coffeeblow
peelpenblind
monsterpencildeaf
hiccupdrawingwink
stompplayingstand
hurtsunbathingsit
hungrysweatingcircle
slipspittingsquare
karatecryingtriangle
ladderbeggingtickle
scaresteelingbreak
fishingkickingglue
dizzydiggingchicken
readflowercrow
hot  soapbite
firechairpoint
waterfridgecard
rainelephantsnail
sunpenguinscratch
housekangaroopig
riverfishknock
treecrabknuckles
cyclingcowtear
watching TVgoatshoulder
swimmingturtlebutt
runningbatstomach
flyingblinkingpain
sleepingclimbingmuscle
drivingfallingmedicine
skiingwritingold
skatingpaintingyoung
drinkingsweepingmusic
typinglockingsinger
eatingkeywhisper
showeringsewingstir
meditatingneedleguitar
singingcuttingdrums
dancingshavingsaxophone
exercisingrobotmicrophone
prayingbeeearphones
yawningspiderbutterfly
cookingdentistjuggle
lionkillerpants
rabbitreadingshirt
mosquitohammerskirt
sharknailboots
monkeysawskates
dogvacuum cleanertouch
catmake-uptaste
bearlovewindow
snaketonguemirror
mousefeetshower
lipstickpalmpunch
heelsbigsmell
moneysmallstink
milkfatperfume
alcoholslimmarch
policefastsoldier
luggageslowgun
motorcyclehappyshoot
doctorsadsword
bottleprettyprincess
knifeuglydragon
squatnosesuperman
hiteyebrowking
bowelbowqueen
givepushswallow
receivelip

Hard Charades Words

Once you’re ready for a real challenge, you can try some of the following mind-boggling charade words for advanced players:

listdollarpretend
taskcredit cardroam
religionquicksilvermaster
thinktemperaturerecord
guessaltitudedistribute
offendsincomment
argumentspamsample
expandmapdiscipline
rebuildprotesttube
removeholidaygem
toleratehysteriamigration
streamstudyopposite
wi-fitokeninsurance
freshnicknamemortgage
fictionmilitarycheck
liquidmeadowcompose
scorehelpcrime
creaturefinishoffice
packingstartswordfish
coolingcruelswap
managershimmersilk
directornastyrubber
politicianglamourbulletin
lawyerneighborhoodcoast
judgealleycorrosion
actorbullyvow
designerdiamondenergy
liarnightdefect
comediandayfunicular
latesummerelectricity
earlywintermagnetism
becomeautumncharisma
forgetspringhospitality
memoryremembercharging
millionmonitorgroceries
meetingsendfigure skating
datefretcharter
timeonlycheese
friendshipprintbutter
cheatgasolinechocolate
testribbonstew
spellbeachpassport
correctforestpenalty
wrongreacteviction
tonecampdiscovery
voicepesticideanimosity
noteplanmiracle
puddingloftfirefly
pastariskdoubt
beerchatbest
betverifysituation
losebadmintonmood
winbidetguilt
quitbloomtournament
escapemistwax
travelstarfoam
hikecrispydecay
tomorrowdarkmold
yearshadowdisc
borderworshipforeigner
colorkindstrange
methoddreambetter
safetymodernoriginal
believemeltnever
hopequestionbattleship
peaceanswerinternet
jokereverythingevacuate
kitchennothingforce
restaurantmaybeengine
artorganizescrew
trophyzoomspot
shameupdatejar
leavediplomatemeasurement
postindependentdimension
deletetouristcinema
repeatlessonfeast
receptionnourishplot
dividerichtool
politepoorweb
humbleprimitivebust
badtricklawn
goodlooptrail
newsbarnhighlighter
selfishfameduration
luxuriousposcardmorning
pizzasimpleevening
subwayguesttax
scootervisitcurrency
wishsteamlaw
shufflefumefee
goldmatchtreasure
silverpuzzleaccount
harddiscussioneducation
easyculturevote
thoughtnutsfort
climatepitalternative
satellitetripnation
wreckroundaboutstate
logicsigngrease
depressionoil

How to Play Charades – Video Tutorial 

Charades Frequently Asked Questions

Can two players play Charades?

Yes. Although Charades is usually recommended for at least four players, enjoying the game even in a pair is not impossible. You will play as two competing individuals guessing the charades of each other. 

Can you use clues for Charades?

Players can agree on whether they do or do not allow using clues during the game of Charades. Typically allowed clues include revealing a number of words, number of syllables, etc.

What are Charades’ goals when playing with children?

Teachers and parents acclaim Charades for promoting children’s social awareness, non-verbal communication skills, and imagination. It is also often recommended for kids with special needs.

Other Similar Games to Charades (Our Guides) 

Looking for some exciting Charades alternatives? Here are our guides to other similar party games you should try: 

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