Beyond the Board Game: 5 Creative Party Background Activities

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Got some parties coming up? Want to have some fun activities for guests to do (in case the conversation is slow to start) but aren't really a board game or party game kind of host? We've got five fun party activities that can successfully run in the background of your party — so folks who want to play along can get involved, and those who don't can eloquently stay back. Some of these ideas might even leave you with some DIY art after the guests are long gone!

Party Post-It Message Wall
Great for birthdays and other events where guests might like to leave a message for the host or guest of honor, this simple idea also provides a bit of party decor by acting as a graphic and colorful textured wall in your home. The idea, spotted on Coco + Kelley, is pretty simple: just geometrically line up some blank, colored sticky note pages, provide a cup of writing utensils (make sure you don't put any markers that might bleed through the paper onto your wall) and jot down a few messages to start so folks know what to do. Consider writing out the instructions and framing them near the wall to clear out confusion.

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Before I die wall
Artist Candy Chang first started this community art project in 2011, taking over a public wall with the simple fill-in-the-blank, "Before I die, I want to..." There are instructions on making your own wall for folks to fill out on her website, so why not try incorporating something like this for a party? If the subject matter is a little too serious, you could easily change it to a more light-hearted question. The point is you'd end up with a wall full of clever and witty responses from your friends, family and party goers, a kind of wall that could be a permanent art installation in your house if you wanted to keep it. Don't want to do any painting? Just grab a roll of oversize paper (maybe use festive washi tape to hang it up) to let guests doodle their secrets on instead.

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Sumi Ink Club
I was visiting Austin art gallery Big Medium for an event last weekend. They had a Sumi Ink Club going in their gallery space — a participatory drawing project established in 2005 by Los Angeles-based artists Sarah Rara and Luke Fischbeck. They have a list of what makes an official Sumi Ink Club, so a party you throw might not fit all the requirements, but we love the look of a collaborative wall full of graphic black and white doodles. Why not encourage some sumi ink doodling at your next get-together? Big Medium went for a giant white cube, but you could roll out some paper on the ground, paint a big piece of plywood leaning on the wall, or if you're brave, even let folks paint directly on the wall! Just make sure you put a drop cloth down under where the painting might take place. And hey, you may end up with a neat piece of oversize art to display in your home all for the price of throwing a party, especially if you know a lot of talented and artistic friends!

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Hanging Polaroid wall display
In the era of selfies, few people are shy about snapping a shot of their face. So grab (or rent) a Polaroid camera for your party, hang up some string and clips on a nearby wall, and let guests snap photos of themselves throughout your party, letting them hang the developed photos as the night wears on. Or hang up some simple, cheap bulletin boards with fun thumb tacks and let folks tack up Polaroids. You'll end up with a fun art display on a wall in your home that has your favorite friendly faces in the shots!

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Home decor scavenger hunt
As an introverted loner that thrives with a to-do list, one of the favorite activities I've ever done at a party was a scavenger hunt in someone's home. But not the usual kind. This was in a home with tons of fun art, and all the questions on the scavenger hunt could be answered by finding the right art piece! It was just the right amount of easy and challenging, but also an interesting way to encourage guests to explore the home you've put so much time in. Perhaps a particularly great idea for a housewarming party? To get folks to want to play, offer some fun prizes (maybe some small art? Or some neat design books?) for whoever completes the scavenger hunt first.

(Image credits: Coco + Kelley; Candy Chang; Adrienne Breaux; 6th Street Design School; Janis Nicolay)

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