The game of 20 questions is a classic Victorian parlor game that is a kind of group trivia pursuit activity. The rules of 20 questions are simple, in that one person thinks of an object or activity (such as an Apple or ‘Washing the dishes’) and the rest of the party has to guess what it is by asking no more than 20 questions which can only be answered with a Yes or No.
The game is described elsewhere on the internet, in some detail, but this type of game makes an entertaining addition to any themed party.
All the host needs to do is research some facts on the party theme and then ask the questions herself during the party and have the guests try and guess the answers using the 20 questions format.
By way of example, let’s say you are hosting a ‘fairy tale’ themed party and you want the guests to guess various fairy tale stories. The story has to be well know to the audience (let’s say the first answer is Cinderella). The guests then need to ask questions such as “Does the story have a princess in it?” or “Does the story have a witch in it?” or “Does the girl marry the prince?” As the host you might want to assist the younger party guests in forming their questions as they will be tempted to shout out random answers of stories.
An alternative to this format, that is similar, is to give the party ‘clues’ about the object or activity. For example, in the case of guessing the fairy tale story, you could tell the guests – ‘This story involves a girl’, followed by’ This girl visits her Grandmother’ etc. until the party guesses: Little Red Riding hood.
For teens and adult parties using 20 questions
This format also works for teens and older themed parties, for example The Victorian Tea Party, The Great Gatsby or Vintage Hollywood. All that is needed is some prepared themed facts about people, places and customs which can then form an interesting 20 questions game.
For teens and adults the more obscure the question the better, one example I use in my Victorian Tea Party experience is the following question of Victorian etiquette:-
“In rising from a chair a lady must never – Do what?”
The sort of questions, that follow, could be:-
Does it involve her making a noise? – Answer No (thank goodness!!)
Does it involve her using a hand gesture? – Answer No
Anyway I am sure you can come up with your own themed obscure questions that will amuse the guests.
The correct answer to the above question of Victorian etiquette is:-
Use the arms of the chair to ‘push herself up’.
If your guests guess that answer, then they are playing the game well.