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The 5 Best Card Games to Play at Parties

Break the ice with these five can't-miss card games recommended by experts.

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When you host an event, providing some form of entertainment can go a long way in loosening up your guests and helping them get to know one another. Playing card games can be a great way to create those connections, pressure-free. But not all card games are created equally—especially in the context of a social setting. Some are too long and complicated, while others require too few players to engage all of your guests.

That said, others strike just the right cord: simple, fast-paced, entertaining, and inclusive of a big gathering. To find out which card games are best to play at parties, we turned to event planners and game experts to find out their favorites. Read on to learn which five fun games will get your party going.

RELATED: 6 Party Games That Your Guests Will Actually Want to Play, Experts Say.

Casino games

Happy young woman showing two aces while playing poker while sitting at a game table with her friends. Concept of themed celebrations of birthdays or corporate events in a casino or at home.

Which perfect card game to choose for your party will depend on the type of party and number of attendees, but Amanda Masick, a marketing executive at Event Solutions says that casino-style games such as poker or blackjack tend to work at most types of gatherings.

"These are our number one most requested games for company holiday parties and events (such as anniversaries, fundraiser galas, and appreciation events). From backyard parties sitting around a card table to hosted year-end parties at a penthouse venue, these are a can't-lose choice," Masick tells Best Life.

If you're hosting a grander event, Masick recommends renting tables and hiring card dealers to add to the atmosphere and experience. For smaller events, consider making smaller investments like a table topper and chips.

RELATED: The 6 Best Things to Ask Guests to Bring—If They Offer.

Crazy 8s


Crazy 8s uses a standard pack of cards and accommodates between two and seven players—making it an inclusive card game to play at parties.

"Card games aren't always a great option for parties because many of them have complicated rules and can lose a person's interest quickly," says James Blackwell, a gaming enthusiast and the founder and CEO of the online quiz company Quizgecko. "However, Crazy 8s is a more universally known card game that is quick, fun, and competitive. It's also really easy to explain to someone without taking up a lot of time."

RELATED: 6 Items You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen When Guests Come Over.

What Do You Meme?

Group of friends laughing and playing game
Impact Photography/Shutterstock

Lucas Wyland, founder of the game analytics platform Steambase, recommends What Do You Meme?, a card game specifically designed to entertain at parties. Though the game's creators specify that players should be over the age of 17, this game tends to be a hit among internet-savvy young adults.

To play, one person displays a captioned card. The other participants suggest the cleverest and funniest memes they can to describe the words or picture displayed on the captioned card. The player suggesting the most appropriate and funniest meme wins the game, Wyland explains.

"This game can liven up dull parties and involve almost everyone," he says.

RELATED: 5 Things You Should Never Do When Hosting People in Your Living Room.

Apples to Apples

Group of friends relaxing and playing cards together. Young people hanging out together around a table during a party playing a game of cards.

Another card-based party game that's sure to get everyone engaged in the action is Apples to Apples, says Rex Freiberger, CEO of Gadget Review, which reviews a range of products including games.

With one player once again playing the role of judge, the other players must match their "red apple" card featuring nouns to a "green apple" card featuring an adjective. The judge decides which player has come up with the funniest or best match.

"You can make games like this as competitive as you want, and you'll be able to get everyone laughing and having a good time," Freiburger tells Best Life, adding that this is a great game for "breaking party guests out of their shells."

For a more adult audience, you can also try Cards Against Humanity, which takes the concept up a notch with a raunchy sense of humor.

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codenames board game
Shutterstock / Antonio Batinic

There are few card-based games with a bigger cult following than Codenames. Both simple and family-friendly, it's a great game for just about any type of gathering.

"Codenames is a word-based game where players give one-word clues to help their team guess the correct words on a grid. It's fantastic because it encourages teamwork, creative thinking, and laughter as players decipher clues and make hilarious connections," says Ivan Marusic, founder of the game community site Game Taco.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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