Icebreakers (Get Acquainted Activities)

Since your guests may not be well acquainted (and may be very bashful), Mister Spiffy has devised some simple techniques to get around this. These techniques are often called "Icebreakers". Since Mister Spiffy thinks Icebreakers are what you do to a popsicle, he just calls them "Get Acquainted Activities".

"Give Me Your Juiciest"

Give each person an index card with another reunion guests name on it (preferably someone they don’t know all too well), and a pen or pencil. After giving them a moment to stew in their own juices, get up on your soapbox and proclaim, "Now, everyone, mingle with everyone else (except the person whose name is on the card) and find out everything you can about the person on your card"! Mister Spiffy urges you to find embarrassing stories or facts about the people – it’s so much more fun that way. Afterwards, get back together and have everyone stand up and introduce the person on their card and the things they found out about them.

Greedy People Are Sooooo Fun

Sit in a circle. Pass around a bag of M&M’s (for more fun, buy several bags and dump them all in a huge bowl). Tell everyone to take as many as they want, but not to eat them yet. Mister Spiffy notes that every group has the people who reach in with both hands and scoop half the bowl – don’t worry; they’ll get theirs in the end. Once everyone has their M&M’s and is asking when they can eat them, inform the group that for every M&M they took they have to tell someone about themselves. "Argh! 100 M&M’s!? Um, one, my name is Chuck. Two... I am tall. Three, I…play the clarinet." Fifteen minutes later… "Ninety-nine, I have a brother. One hundred…uh…uh…my brother’s name is Matt! Done"! This is one of Mister Spiffy’s favorite icebreaking games, to watch the guests writhe in agony.

A good variation on this game is to pass around a roll of TP ("toilet paper" for those who have never "decorated" a teacher's house) and tell everyone, "Take as much as you ‘need,’ if you know what I mean." Then, for every sheet of TP, they have to write something about themselves on it. Then you can share the TP, or do whatever else with it.

Police Lineup

Here’s a good way to make people talk. Gather them all together and say, "Okay, line up by your height." Don’t doubt Mister Spiffy’s sanity yet; he knows that you don’t have to talk to line up by height. This is just a warm-up. After that, have them line up according to birthdays. Then shoe size. Then the age at which they were potty-trained. They’ll have to talk there, that’s for sure. Need some more sample line-up questions? Here you go.

  • Line up according to how many days it took for you to learn to ride a bike
  • According to colors of hair, dark to light
  • How many math teachers you actually liked (Mister Spiffy had three)
  • How many times they repeated third grade
  • How much they like Bill Clinton (you may get a clump at the end of the room on this one)
  • How many books they have read in the past two months
  • The number of times they have eaten takeout in the past three weeks
  • The size of their favorite animal (blue whale to small bacteria)
  • How much they would have to be paid to eat roadkill (usually it’s around "a bazillion dollars")
  • How much roadkill they would eat for the specified amount

Finding A Perfect Match

You’ll need a handout with questions and places for signatures underneath each one. Have each person answer the questions on the blank provided (not the signature blank), and make sure they use ink so they can’t change their answers. Then get on your soapbox (yes, again) and have them mingle and find people who answered things the same. When they do, get their signatures under the answers they have in common. A good limiting rule is that you can’t have one person sign more than two of your questions, but Mister Spiffy says that isn’t really necessary. Want some help on good questions to ask?

  • What year were you born?
  • What color are your eyes?
  • What is your favorite baseball team?
  • What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
  • Can you roll your tongue?
  • If you had to choose from eternal youth, endless wealth, and a year’s supply of dog food, which one would you pick?
  • If you could obliterate the career of one musician, who would it be?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • If there was a warrant for your arrest and you had to escape the country, where would you go?
  • If you were in a situation where you could shoot the Taco Bell dog and throw its body in a rapidly flowing river without ever being caught, would you do it?
  • Have you ever done anything you shouldn’t have with a magnet and computer accessories?
  • Do you suffer from any of those things that prohibit you from going on roller coasters (i.e., motion sickness, back and neck pain, heart conditions, under 46 inches tall, et cetera)?

Ah, the possibilities! The person who has all their questions signed (or at least the most, if none could find all of them) wins.

"I’ve Done Something You Haven’t Done"

Have each person introduce themselves and say something that they have done that they doubt anyone else has (Mister Spiffy usually says, "I doctor family reunions"). If someone else speaks up and can honestly say that they have done that too ("I’ve had a kid too, mom – you’ve got grandkids, remember?"), then the person has to keep trying until they find something no one else has done.

I Am None Other Than George Washington Carver, Who Worked With Peanuts

Write the name of famous people on pieces of paper and tape one on each person’s back (don't let the person know who's name is on their back). Everyone now has to guess the person on their back by asking other people around the room yes or no questions about the person. "Did I chop down a cherry tree?" "No." "Was I a good guy in history?" "Yes." "Hmm. Attila the Hun?" "Ah…no."

A variation on this is to use famous places or monuments (example – Sydney Opera House, Mount Rushmore, White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Taj Mahal). A warning from Mister Spiffy – try not to make people’s places fit their characteristics. If a corpulent Great Aunt Opal finds out that she was Mount Everest, she may harbor hard feelings if she discovers other people’s places also matched their physical looks.

"I Got My Name Because My Mom Liked the Beastie Boys"

Ah, names. What better way to introduce yourself than to share your name? None, according to Mister Spiffy’s immense knowledge. Have each person stand up and tell what they know about the reason they have their name ("I’m named after my great-great-great grandma who did cartwheels through cow pies because she thought it would get her a man"). It can be your first, middle, or nickname, or if you happen to know where your last name comes from that always works too. Mister Spiffy’s got a fairly amusing history to his name, but that’s a different story entirely.

"My Picture Is A Fish. What Else Need I Say?"

Have people draw a picture that describes them, then tell why. Mister Spiffy once knew a family that was really rather strange, and this icebreaker turned out to be quite the bladder buster. We had pictures ranging from road accidents and spotted moose to children sitting on clouds and a king wearing his crown upside down. The explanations were even better. Make sure that people know they will have to explain it, otherwise they will just try to be funny.

Straight-Faced Unabashed Liar

Each person gets an index card. Then pull out your soapbox again and tell them all to write down three statements about themselves – one true and the others lies. Then they will stand up and read out their information whilst the rest of the group tries to guess which statement is true. To really befuddle the listening ears, pick the most outrageous stunt you’ve ever done for truth and make more realistic (but still untrue) statements your lies. Although this is an icebreaker, Mister Spiffy says it’s also fun to play with people who have been together for a long time – like a party with close friends. Then it’s even harder to think of a true statement that no one would guess.

Truth or Dare, Without the Dare

Everyone sits in a circle. Ask a question and go around the circle, with everyone answering it in their own way. This can be a ton-o-fun if you ask the right questions, therefore Mister Spiffy provides for you a list of questions that will help get the laughter started.

  • What was your most embarassing moment (or at least one of them)?
  • If you were a pie, what kind of pie would you be?
  • If you were to choose a vegetable most resembling your personality, what vegetable would you pick and why? Mister Spiffy’s note – a tomato is a fruit.
  • Choose one word to describe yourself
  • Choose one word to describe the person on your left
  • What thought first crosses your mind when you hear, "Once upon a time…"?
  • Which Disney character are you most like, and why?
  • What is the most attractive trait you could hope for in the opposite sex?
  • Who was your favorite character in "Star Wars"?
  • If you were to grow a mole on your forehead, what shape would you want it to be?
  • What is the best carnival ride you’ve ever been on?
  • Have you ever swallowed a coin or other monetary element?

Like Mister Spiffy said, it can be a milk-spewer. If you just get the right people (the slightly twisted branch of the family) you can be laughing all night.

"B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O and Bingo Was His Name-O"

Get Acquainted Bingo. Create a bingo card of characteristics that a person might have, or just use the one Mister Spiffy made below. These can be physical characteristics (like hair color), things the person has done (flown in an airplane), or things which match the bingo player (same color eyes). Pass out the bingo cards to all family members, and have them try to get a bingo (or blackout) by finding other family members that have these characteristics. Mister Spiffy has a rule that you can only provide two matches on another person’s card (even if more than two items are true). This way you have to ask more people nosy questions.

Find Someone Who...
Has green eyes Is the same height as you Knows the words to the Gilligan's Island theme song Has driven a tractor Collects something for a hobby
Was born the same month as you Has built something out of wood Is over 6 feet tall Lives in a house with a basement Has been to Mexico
Knows how to rollerblade Is your cousin FREE Lives more than 500 miles from you Has brown hair
Can roll their tongue Has piloted an airplane Owns a farm animal (horse, cow, etc) Is over 50 years old Knows how to set the time on a VCR
Is under 15 years old Has pierced ears Plays a musical instrument Has been to more than 5 family reunions Has served in the military