Hosting a socially distant party? These are the games you need

Emilee Geist

Whether you want to sit and relax with a giant jigsaw or work up a sweat playing egg and spoon, these are the best games to play while keeping your distance: iStock/The Independent
Whether you want to sit and relax with a giant jigsaw or work up a sweat playing egg and spoon, these are the best games to play while keeping your distance: iStock/The Independent

As lockdown measures continue to relax, we’re beginning to enjoy some of the freedoms many of us took for granted pre-pandemic.

Since 4 July, family and friends have been allowed to visit each other’s homes, with no limit on how many people can gather indoors or out, providing they are from two different households and social distancing measures are followed. The 2m rule has also been reduced to 1m.

This, of course, means weekend plans and socialising have become much more exciting as we can finally see friends and family, some for the first time in four months.

It’s safe to say we’ve all had enough of quizzes after months on Zoom and we can’t always rely on the British weather for a barbecue, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mark a reunion with some fun, albeit at a distance.

To help you plan a day of hosting, here’s our favourite indoor and outdoor games you can play, to keep your guests entertained.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Outdoor games

If you’d planned a holiday with friends but it ended up getting cancelled, commiserate together at home with some outdoor games to boost spirits. Throw a few drinks into the mix to really get the party started.

In our guide to the best garden games, this Professor Puzzle giant toppling tower (Summer Outdoor, £35) won a spot as a must-have for any Jenga fans.

A colourful take on a traditional game, this toppling tower set is sure to keep everyone entertained (Summer Outdoor)
A colourful take on a traditional game, this toppling tower set is sure to keep everyone entertained (Summer Outdoor)

Instead of the usual wooden bricks, this game features five colours and a die, which when rolled will tell you your fate. It’s portable, easy to play and clean too.

If you’re looking for a hint of nostalgia, the Great Garden Games Co sports day kit game (Oliver Bonas, £18) is also a great option for competitive players who want to relive their school days.

Recreate a school sports day with this retro kit (Oliver Bonas)
Recreate a school sports day with this retro kit (Oliver Bonas)

The kit contains two bean bags, two rubber eggs and wooden spoons, two batons, two three-legged race bands, two wooden relay batons, a games booklet and two chalks. There are 50 games to play, so you’re getting a lot for your money

Speaking of sports, us Brits have mastered the art of rounders, and it’s something guests of all ages can get involved with.

Which is exactly why your party shouldn’t be without this personalised family rounders garden games (Not On The High Street, £59.50). You can even take it down to the local park to play a few games after dinner.

Score a rounder with this kit which allows you to easily social distance at the same time (Not On The High Street)
Score a rounder with this kit which allows you to easily social distance at the same time (Not On The High Street)

The four bases and wooden rounders bat in the set can be personalised with your team name, and it also includes a ball and a carry bag for easy storage. Brush up on the rules of play with this guide by Rounders England.

Board games

A good old-fashioned game of Monopoly is always a good idea, even if it means by the end everyone isn’t speaking to one another.

Creating a monthly games night is a great way to regularly see friends and family. In our guide to the best, we found that Monopoly voice banking (Argos, £16) was the most popular choice for kids aged eight and over.

The classic board game has had a modern upgrade with this voice-activated version (Argos)
The classic board game has had a modern upgrade with this voice-activated version (Argos)

It’s a twist on the classic board game, with an interactive, voice-activated Mr Monopoly banking unit which keeps tabs on players’ money and properties so there’s no cash or cards to think about.

If you’re missing a typical pub quiz to test your general knowledge, this Smart Games 30 seconds (Smart Game Shops, £29.99) does just the job.

Put your general knowledge to the test with this easy-to-play game for four people and more (Smart Game Shops)
Put your general knowledge to the test with this easy-to-play game for four people and more (Smart Game Shops)

The quick-fire game is designed for four or more people, in which players have 30 seconds to describe five names on their card for teammates to guess without saying the actual names. From rhyming tactics to hints, how you deliver your names is up to you and topics range from pop culture to landmarks and music.

This Very British Problems board game (John Lewis and Partners, £22.99) is a great way to laugh at our cultural quirks and test your friends.

Find out just how awkward you are in this game about very British problems
Find out just how awkward you are in this game about very British problems

Containing 160 quintessentially British scenarios, a playing board and pieces, a notepad and wipe-clean scoreboards and pens, it’s designed for four to eight players. Work your way around the board until you have a winner who answered the most questions correctly. We can see this becoming a real family staple this summer.

Card games

A pack of cards can provide hours of fun, without the need for any physical contact and before and after playing. They can easily be cleaned with an antibacterial wipe after each round too.

Anyone that’s a fan of good old-fashioned charades should try this Big Potato Obama llama 2 game (John Lewis & Partners, £21.99).

Each charade in this game is a rhyme, each one more over-the-top than the last (John Lewis and Partners)
Each charade in this game is a rhyme, each one more over-the-top than the last (John Lewis and Partners)

The pack includes 500 ridiculous cards to act out, ranging from a pot noodle marrying a noodle to King Kong playing ping pong that will really test your teamwork skills and have you howling with laughter.

For smaller groups, play Cards Against Humanity (WHSmith, £29.99) for hours of laughs during a garden party.

Card games don't have to be boring, this set will have you in stitches (WHSmith)
Card games don’t have to be boring, this set will have you in stitches (WHSmith)

The premise is simple, each round one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone has to answer with their funniest white card.

You can also download it for free online and play over a video call with friends who couldn’t make it, or are in a different part of the country.

Arts and crafts

If you’re a creative bunch, invest in an arts and crafts kit for a wholesome group activity. Everyone will go home with something handmade which is a nice touch.

We’d recommend working on your masterpiece outside or across a large table or floor space to ensure you can work at a distance from one another.

In our guide to the best kits for adults, we enjoyed the MakeBox+Co the love paper box (MakeBox+Co, £24.99) which has a sustainable ethos. Founder Hannah Read-Baldrey uses biodegradable materials where possible and all the packaging is recyclable.

Create your own artwork with your guests by using this papercutting kit (MakeBox+Co)
Create your own artwork with your guests by using this papercutting kit (MakeBox+Co)

From paper flowers to macrame, you’re spoilt for choice on projects to work your way through, and the tools come included so you won’t have to root around a forgotten drawer to find that pair of scissors.

“In our papercutting box, we received a cutting mat, scalpel and blades, along with a selection of sturdy cards, tattoo-inspired patterns and even a box frame to display your favourite design,” said our reviewer.

This Willow and Finn luxe candle making kit (Willow and Finn, £49) also impressed us, as self-care and candles go hand-in-hand, and amid a global pandemic, we all deserve a bit of TLC.

Created by British candle maker Willow and Finn, which uses soy wax, it’s eco-friendly too.

With everything you need to make your own candles, this set is ideal for a group activity (Willow and Finn)
With everything you need to make your own candles, this set is ideal for a group activity (Willow and Finn)

When we reviewed it, everything arrived in a smart recycled box with a magnetic lid for storing all your gear in between sessions.

Inside comes 500g of soy wax, two small amber jars, one big amber jar, a digital thermometer, a whisk, a melting pot, wicks, wick holders and three essential oil blends.

We found there to be enough materials to fill the three containers with some leftover too. ”We’d never made candles before but found the instructions stress free to follow and were left thrilled by how professional our results looked – they could have been sold in a shop,” our reviewer said.

For more inspiration, read our guide to socially distanced gatherings here

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Socially distanced gatherings: Everything you need to keep them fun

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