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The Funnest Types / Versions of Charades (That You’ll Enjoy!)

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Group Of Friends At Home Having Fun Playing Charades Together 1

Charades is a fun game, perfect for a party, family gathering, or team-building exercise. Because the game is so versatile, it only stands to reason that there would be a variety of types and versions of Charades. 

In my many years as a Charades champion (okay, not quite), I have come to appreciate a handful of versions that are particularly fun for a social gathering. I would like to share a few of my favorites with avid Charades players and newbies to the game too.

Types (and versions) of the game Charades:

  1. Traditional Charades
  2. Themed Charades
  3. Partner Charades
  4. Reverse Charades
  5. Free-for-all Charades
  6. Telephone Charades

The game of Charades focuses on one person acting out a word or phrase while a group of people tries to guess it. The game is non-verbal, so the clues are mimed and gestured. As you can tell from the many versions of Charades, it is a game that is fairly easily modified to cater to the type of players and, of course, the difficulty of each game/round. 

If you want to learn a bit more about each of the types and versions of Charades mentioned above, read on. 

A Closer Look at 6 Types and Versions of the Charades Game

While I am sure that there are many different themes of Charades out there, the abovementioned list is a fairly comprehensive compilation of the most commonly known types and versions available. You might have played one or more of these versions of Charades at your own family gatherings and parties. If you have not, you can quickly learn everything you need to know about each. Let us take a closer look at each one.

friendship, leisure and entertainment concept - happy friends playing charades

1. What is Traditional Charades?

Traditional Charades is the most popular version of the game. This version of the game focuses on the very first type of Charades game, which was a riddle parlor game popular in the 18th Century. Back then, the game focused on one person providing clues to solve a riddle. Talking was allowed.

The traditional version of Charades, as we know it today, is actually called “Acted Charades” and only became popular in the 19th Century. Nowadays, traditional Charades is based on one person acting out a clue or phrase non-verbally to a group of people. The players are divided into two groups that play against each other to score points and ultimately win. No talking or verbal sounds are allowed, and players are expected to deliver their clues and guess the answer, in a set amount of time. 

2. What is Themed Charades?

This is a version of Charades that I have encountered at most social occasions. Themed Charades has become increasingly popular in modern times because it is the most social and also the easiest version of the game. It’s easy to play, provides heaps of fun and entertainment, and somehow seems simpler than other versions. 

Before the group is divided into two teams and the game begins, a common theme is agreed on. All clues must then fall into that particular chosen theme. Take, for example, that the chose theme is “songs” – all clues must then pertain to songs. Because of the ease of playing themed Charades, it is a great version for newbies to the game.

3. What is Partner Charades?

Partner Charades is a popular version of the game for dinner parties, couple’s evenings, or small gatherings. I have played Partner Charades on some double date nights and thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend it for all couples – long term, new, or just friends. 

couples playing charades indoor and laughing

How do you play Partner Charades? It’s fairly simple to grasp the game concept. Instead of teams, people pair up with partners. Each person writes down 10 phrases or words and places them in a hat for other team’s players to act out. This places a bit of extra pressure on players as each “team” only has one person guessing at the word or phrase. As far as Charades games go, in my opinion, this is one of the most competitive versions. 

4. What is Reverse Charades?

Reverse Charades turns the whole concept of traditional Charades on its head. 

Instead of one person acting out or miming clues to a group of people, a group of people has to provide clues to just one person to guess a word or phrase. The group is still split into two teams, and the objective is to get one person to guess as many words/phrases as possible in just 60 seconds. Of course, there is a lot of pressure on the one person guessing the clue, so this tends not to be the favorite type of Charades for shy or reserved people.

5. What is Free-for-all Charades?

What if you want to play Charades but don’t want to separate the players into strict groups or pairs? Well then, Free-for-all Charades is for you. 

Free-for-all Charades is the most social version of the game and is fairly non-competitive. No groups or teams are formed. Instead, one person writes down their own word or phrase on a piece of paper and places it on the table (or a safe place). He/she then acts or mimes the word or phrase for the entire group to guess. The person who guesses the word or phrase correctly is the next person to act or mime. 

I personally love this version of Charades as it is all-inclusive and focuses a lot less on winners and losers. It is all about having fun and including everyone. 

diverse group of people around bonfire in campsite and playing charades during sunset

6. What is Telephone Charades?

Telephone Charades is a wildly fun version of the game, and it works quite differently from all other versions. In fact, it is quite similar to a game of “Broken Telephone”. 

In Telephone Charades, 6 to 7 or more players are lined up shoulder to shoulder, all facing in the same direction except for the first player in the line. The first player should turn and face the opposite way. A spectator or supervisor of the game shows the first player a slip of paper with a phrase or word that needs to be acted out and then shows the other spectators too. 

The first person then turns around and taps the next player on the shoulder and acts out the clue. That player then taps the next player on the shoulder and acts out their interpretation of the clue without using exactly the same mime/actions as the previous player. This continues until the very last player in the line who has to take a guess at and announce what the original clue was. The slip of paper is then consulted to see if they got it right.  

It’s hard not to have fun while playing Telephone Charades, so if you haven’t tried it before, I strongly recommend that you do. 

Store-Bought Charades or “Make Do” DIY Charades

When browsing around to find out more about the various versions and types of Charades games out there, I could not help but notice the plethora of product options to choose from. I wondered how people made a choice and if it was always a store-bought Charades that people opted for. You can log onto Amazon and see a variety of options, ready to be ordered at your fingertips, yet when I was a child; I do not remember having an actual game. 

It came to my mind that some groups of people do not even purchase store-bought Charades game packs. As kids, we would have our parents write possible words and phrases on slips of paper for us to act out, and it worked perfectly. Some weekends we would have themes and others we would not. I remember it being wildly fun. That is one version of Charades – the homemade DIY version. 

Another is the store-bought version, which I personally feel holds a lot of value. When I moved out of the house and started hosting my own social gatherings, I bought my very first Charades game pack, and it served me and social occasions very well. I have since invested in a variety of different versions and themes. 

Charades Apps

Charades app in store
Premio Stock /

For those who don’t like the idea of having a physical game, you can purchase a Charades app for your mobile phone from the App Store. These apps include timers and suggested words/phrases for you to use. I have used one of these apps to play Charades at a party before, and it seemed to work just fine. Lots of fun and laughter ensued.

That said, it’s quite important to note though that you don’t need to buy the game to actually play Charades

Lots of Fun Regardless of the Version You Play

As a Charades game enthusiast, I can quite conclusively say that it does not matter if you make up your own clues or buy a game pack. It also does not matter what type or version of Charades you are playing. It will be spans of fun, regardless. 

If you have not played Charades much before and would like to get started, try it out at your next party without a game pack and see how it goes. If you absolutely love it – as I suspect you will – then you have every reason needed to buy one or more types and versions of the game. Good luck and have fun!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.