Entertaining a large group can be challenging. The usual chit chat about the heat and humidity will only last so long. A few good games can break the ice, spawn contagious bouts of laughter and create an unforgettable gathering.
A scavenger hunt is a simple game that encourages guests to work together, and you can play it with a large group. Before the get-together, create a list of items that your guests have to find. Some items can be easy, but be sure to include some creative challenges, too. Group people into teams and send them searching, indoors and out, for items on the list. The first team that finds everything on the list wins. It's good to have a time limit as well in case no one finds everything. In that case, the team with the most finds wins. A scavenger hunt is also an easy ice breaker game. Create a list of things your guests have to learn from each other such as, "Who drives a pickup truck?" or "Who has five dogs?" The game encourages participants to get to know each other.
Spoons is a fun game for both adults and children. You will need a deck of cards and one spoon for each guest, minus one. Place the spoons in the middle of the table, equally accessible by all the participants. The dealer begins by dealing four cards to each player and placing the remaining cards in a pile, face down. Play begins when the dealer takes the top card, looks at it and chooses to exchange it with a card in his hand or pass it to the first player on his left. At the same time, each player takes a card from his hand and passes it to the player on the left while picking up the card being passed on the right, choosing to exchange it with one in his hand or pass it to the player on the left. Cards continue being passed until one player gets a four of a kind. That player then reaches for a spoon. The rest of the players can now reach for a spoon. The player without a spoon loses the round and receives an "S." The first player to spell SPOONS loses. Spoons works well with a large group because it's so simple to play, and you can teach it quickly.
Guessing games are always fun with a crowd because they encourage participants to work together and to talk amongst their teammates. Charades, Pictionary and Win, Lose or Draw encourage teamwork and interaction and bring out the artist and actor in everyone. For all of these games, divide the group into teams. For Charades, prepare answers ahead of time or have slips of paper and pens handy at the entrance. As guests arrive, have them write words or phrases for others to act out. For the drawing games, butcher paper or large dry erase boards work best for a crowd.
If you are playing outside, relay races can bring out the kid in everyone. Have guests keep balloons aloft while running, put adults on tricycles or host a sack race or three-legged race. Divide the group into teams, and let the friendly competition begin.