This Thanksgiving danger words game will have teams competing against each other to see who can guess Thanksgiving themed words! Just watch out – if they guess the danger word instead, your team loses the round!
One of my dreams in life is to be on Ellen’s Game of Games show. I absolutely adore her and the games are so much fun! Or another dream would be to work for the show and help come up with games – but you know I kind of like my current job, so maybe just be on the show.
This Thanksgiving danger words game is a simplified version of the danger words game on her show and one of my favorite Thanksgiving games ever.
I also love my Harry Potter danger words game but this is about Thanksgiving, not Harry Potter games, so anyway.
The basic idea of this game is that you split into teams and players are trying to get their team to guess a word WITHOUT guessing the danger word. It’s hilarious, easy enough that all ages can play, and a great way to break up the eating and football on Thanksgiving.
Plus, I’ve created a bunch of Thanksgiving themed danger word pairs you can use to play so literally all you have to do is print out the cards and instructions then play!
You really don’t need much to play this game – just the danger words, scissors, and a pen and a paper to keep score. Oh and people – you definitely need people!
You can also grab an optional timer if you have people in your group that may take a really really long time to come up with clues. I recommend 30 seconds or less or the game will get really really long.
I love printable games that don’t take much setup at all!
Or if you want to get really fancy, you could buy the actual board game and use the game (they do a sponge in the face or something if you guess the danger word). Then just use these Thanksgiving words instead of the words in the box. Save the words in the box for another day!
How to Play
First things first, you need to get the game all ready to go.
1 – Set Up the Game
Start by cutting out the individual cards (try not to look at them too closely if you’re going to be playing – that’s cheating!). Put the cards in a brown paper bag or envelope until you’re ready to play.
2 – Divide Into Teams
Split your players into two-person teams. On the show this game is played with just two teams, but we’ve played it with a bunch of two-person teams and it’s worked just fine. Maybe max it out at say six two-person teams.
Give each team a number (team 1, team 2, team 3). You’ll need this to keep track of who goes first for clues, etc.
Read my section below on playing with larger groups if you have more than twelve people playing! And if that doesn’t work, just try a different game like maybe Thanksgiving charades, Thanksgiving would you rather, or this Thanksgiving dice game.
3 – Split Into Clue Givers and Guessers
Once you have your teams – pick one player on each team to be the first clue giver and one person on each team to be the first guesser. Guessers go on one side of the room, clue givers go on the other.
4 – Give Clues
Have one of the clue givers pick a clue card out of the bag/envelope of clues and show it to all of the clue givers. Each clue card will have both a large word at the top and a danger word at the bottom.
The large word at the top is the clue you want your team to guess. The danger word at the bottom is the word you do NOT want your team to guess.
Starting with team 1, they should give a ONE WORD clue to their teammate to try and get them to guess the word, without guessing the danger word.
There are a few rules for clues:
- Cannot use any part of the main word or the danger word
- Cannot be the word in another language
- Must be one only word, no hyphenated words or phrases
- Must be a clue that describes or relates to the actual word, not the spelling/writing of the word (e.g., A if the word is apple would not be okay but red would.)
- No explanations allowed – just the clue
5 – Guess Words
Once team 1 gives their clue, their teammate guesses what they think the word is. Is they get it correct, the round is over and they win one point for their team.
If they guess incorrectly, team 2 would then get a chance to give a word and guess the word – same rules apply as above.
Keep going through teams until a team has guessed the word. If you get through all the teams and no one has guessed the word, go back to Team 1 and make your way back through the teams again.
IF a team at any point guesses the danger word, the round is immediately over. If you’re playing with just two teams, the other team would win a point. If you’re playing with more than one team, no one wins a point for the round. Instead the team who said the danger word would receive a punishment.
Depending on your group and how you want to play, some of the punishments we’ve done in the past include:
- Skip a turn in clue giving the next round
- Lose 3 points
- Some physical punishment such as a pie to the face, have to drink a bottle of water, eat something gross, etc. There are lots of good ideas in these kid-friendly truth or dare questions that might work
If you’re going to do one of the physical punishments, make sure players know what they’re getting into before you play.
6 – Switch Guessers
After a word has been guessed, you’ll now switch who is giving clues and who is guessing on each team. No need to switch spots or sides of the room – simply switch.
Same rules apply, the teammate who was guessing the word first is now just giving the clues.
The other big change with subsequent rounds is that you need to start at the team after the one who started the game before. So for instance, if Team 1 gave the first clue in round 1, Team 2 would give the first clue in round 2.
Giving the first clue can be either an advantage or disadvantage depending on what the word(s) are, so you need to keep rotating the starting team.
How to Win
Continue playing for as long as you want or until all of the danger word cards are gone. Once they’re all gone, whoever has the most points total wins.
I always like to keep a running tally of points somewhere that people can see them. A big white poster board + permanent marker works well for a large scorecard, or you a big dry erase board with dry erase markers is another favorite.
If you don’t have any of those things, a regular pen and paper works too!
Playing with a Large Group
While this game is designed to be played in pairs, it’s really easy to play in a large group! And really you have two pretty easy options depending on what you want to do.
Split your group into teams with even numbers – stick to six teams or less.
You have a couple of different options for how to play with larger teams:
- One person guesses each round and the rest of the team discusses and gives clues together as a team.
- One person guesses each round and the rest of the team switches off giving a clue to the guesser.
- One person gives clues and the rest of the team works together to come up with the word they want to guess, kind of like in this Thanksgiving Family Feud game.
The one thing to keep in mind is that no matter which way you do it, make sure that you are rotating the “one person” in the scenario above each round. So team member A might guess the first round, team member B might guess the second round, etc.
And if you’re going to do the version 2 where teammates switch off giving clues to the guesser – rotate through those as well. So team member A might give the first clue in round 1, team member B might give the first clue in round 2, etc.
If you’re playing with the entire family including young kids, I recommend doing teams of at least 3 and including the kids with older teens/adults. Then use version 1 or 3 above and let the kids help come up with ideas for the group.
More Thanksgiving Games
These are some of our favorite Thanksgiving games for the entire family! If you need more, you can always check out my Thanksgiving activities page as well!
- Thanksgiving trivia
- Thanksgiving bingo
- Thanksgiving pictionary
- Skittles gratitude game
- Fall party games
Download the Danger Words
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The file will include:
- 50 Thanksgiving danger words
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