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How to Play Charades

We've all had a game of Charades, be it with close friends at a dinner party or with far and distant relatives at Christmas. Sure we've played, but how many of us know the proper rules… or any rules at all for that matter?

That's why we've decided to put together a comprehensive guide on how to play Charades, complete with short video illustrations of the most important gestures and hand signals. We even have a grid of Charades ideas that you can print, cut and use to play. Ready? Let's go!

Equipment Needed

  • Slips of paper
  • Pencils
  • Two hats or containers
  • A stopwatch or timer
  • A notepad (for keeping score)
  • Four or more players


Charades is a word guessing game in which players take turns to act out the titles of books, movies etc. without speaking for their teammates to guess as quickly as possible. To begin:

  • Split into two teams.
  • Each team writes the titles of books, songs, TV shows, plays, movies and famous quotations on the paper strips for the other team to guess and places them in separate hats or containers.
  • Select a timekeeper from each team. Make sure they're trustworthy!
  • Select a maximum time limit for each turn. Two or three minutes usually works well (depending on the number of players).
  • Watch the videos below to make sure everyone is familiar with the gestures. Add your own if you're feeling creative!

Charades Rules

  1. The first player to perform from Team A takes a paper slip from the hat or container filled by Team B.
  2. The performing player is given a chance to review the slip before the timekeeper from Team B counts them in to start.
  3. The performing player acts out whatever is written on the slip for the rest of Team A to guess. All without talking of course!
  4. If the team guess correctly within the limit the timekeeper notes down how long they took. If they fail to guess correctly the maximum time limit it recorded.
  5. The first player from Team B now takes their turn (following the above instructions).
  6. Each team takes alternate turns until all players have had a go at acting, or until all the pieces of paper have been used.

Alternative Ways of Choosing a Winner

  • The team with the lowest total time when all of the rounds are combined is the winner.
  • The team with the most correct guesses is the winner.
  • There is no winner; you just play for fun (suggested for overly competitive families).

Gestures To Indicate Categories

For your game of Charades to be a success it's essential that everyone is aware of the actions that are commonly used indicate the six main categories. If it's your job to organise the game, why not familiarise yourself by watching the videos below.

Other Useful Gestures

Now you've mastered the categories it's time to add some more gestures to your Charades arsenal. These will enable you to instantly convey important information to your teammates about the number of words, syllables and the part of the title you're currently acting. They can even be used to indicate the length of the word, or to fill in the smaller words like 'a, 'I' and 'the'. All this leaves more time for acting out the more complex elements.

Words For Charades

Now it's time to play! If you want to get going straight away why not take a look at our printable lists of words for Charades. All you need to do is cut them out, pop them in the hats and you're good to go. Coming up with Charades ideas that are fun to act and guess isn't always easy, which is why we've put a lot of thought into creating these super-awesome lists for you guys to use. Enjoy!