I’ve been playing drinking games since I was sixteen, and had played just about every established drinking game known to man by the time I graduated high school. College is a time of experimentation and self-discovery: for some people, that means reading Nietzsche and falling in love for the first time. I chose to devote my entire creative energy towards inventing progressively stranger and more intricate drinking games.
I’ve built drinking games that revolve around card games, dice games, word games, lateral thinking puzzles, tests of physical prowess, and every popular movie and TV show from the last 30 years. I’m compiling all these games into my memoirs (working title: I Can’t Believe I’m Still Alive Either: The Alli Reed Story); in the meantime, I tried to destroy your childhood by turning all your favorite kids’ party games into excuses to get embarrassingly, inexcusably hammered. I figured I ought to test these drinking games out first — for science — and I took pictures, so good luck trying to get hired anywhere ever again, “friends.”
Game 1: Pin the Tail on the Donkey
This is a game where, traditionally, an adult will blindfold a child, give them a sharp piece of metal, spin them around until they’re disoriented, and set them loose in a crowd of unarmed children. Naturally, it’s become a staple at birthday parties around the world.
The adult version is basically the same, except the blindfolded person is also drunk and there are a few more rules. Each part of the donkey comes with a different instruction, listed here from most desirable to most punishing:
- Tail: should you somehow manage to actually pin the tail on the donkey, you get to make every other player take a shot of your choice.
- Head: Double Down — you get to go again. If you land on the tail, everyone takes two shots of your choice; if you land anywhere else, you double that punishment.
- Leg: grab hands with the player of your choice and engage in a one-legged balance fight. First person to put their other foot down finishes their drink.
- Donkey body: the person who went before you decides what you drink.
- Outside the donkey: the two people with birthdays closest to yours mix their drinks together and you chug it.
Preparation required: Moderate. You’ll need some large piece of paper to draw on (in my case, the back of a piece of Disney Princesses wrapping paper, in keeping with the 6-year-old-trapped-in-a-25-year-old’s-rapidly-disintegrating-body theme), someone with enough artistic talent to draw a recognizable donkey, and some tape, because seriously, don’t blindfold a drunk person and give them a thumbtack, dumbass.
Entertainment value: Moderate. There were a couple of runs of everyone getting the donkey body, which got tedious, but that was cancelled out by the schadenfreude of watching your blindfolded friend walk in entirely the wrong direction and knowing that he’s ten seconds away from chugging a Coors Light mixed with a double shot of gin.
Drinking level: Moderate. Only one person ever got the tail, so you’ll generally only drink on your turn. That said, it’s likely one of your friends will get to decide what you drink at some point, and if your friends are anything like my friends, you’ll be drinking a shot of Captain Morgan mixed with Scorpion Strike Hot Sauce. (Tip: do not have friends like my friends.)
Overall score: 7/10
Game 2: Pass the Parcel
The wet dream of blind consumerism, Pass the Parcel is a game where a present is wrapped in several layers of paper, and between each layer is a small prize. You pass the present around in a circle while music plays; when the music stops, whoever’s holding the parcel unwraps the top layer and keeps the prize.
Wrapping an actual shot between each layer seemed unwieldy and soggy, so I decided to put a different drinking instruction on a piece of paper between each layer, including:
- Waterfall (all players begin drinking their drink, but can only stop when the person to their right stops; the person who unwrapped this instruction is the only person who can stop first)
- You and everyone wearing the same color shirt as you drinks
- Starting with you and moving clockwise, all players name a sexual position; the first player to hesitate or repeat a position drinks
Preparation required: High. You’ll have to come up with at least 7 or 8 drinking instructions, find an empty box and something to wrap it in (wrapping paper, newspapers, old notepads filled with your hopes and dreams that you obviously won’t be needing anymore), and then actually wrap the damn thing.
Entertainment value: High. There’s the adrenaline of passing the box as fast as you can, the anticipation that the music might stop on you, and the Christmas-morning excitement of opening a present. Plus, each layer is a sort of mini-drinking-game, so you’ll never get bored.
Drinking level: Moderate, although that’s only because most of my instructions only had one player drink. There is endless flexibility and possibility to get your whole group drunker than a bachelorette party at Mardi Gras; it’s basically the Lego of drinking games. If you can dream it, you can drink it.
Overall score: 9/10
Game 3: Hot Potato
I don’t need to do any research to know exactly how this game developed originally. Some exhausted, broke parent ran out of ways to entertain their children, grabbed a potato from the barren cupboard and said, “Here, throw this around and…sing a song, and then…whoever’s holding it when the song ends loses, I guess? Now go play outside while Mommy finishes her grape juice.”
In my hands, Hot Potato became a sloppy, beautiful, and surprisingly dangerous hybrid between catch and karaoke. Fill a flask with your favorite hard alcohol, pick the chorus of a popular song, and have everyone sing that chorus while chucking the flask at each other. Whoever’s holding it when the chorus ends has to drink from the flask and pick the next chorus.
Preparation required: Low. All you need is a flask that can be sealed securely and a solid knowledge of ‘80s power ballads and Disney musicals.
Entertainment value: High. You’re throwing a metal flask at your friends’ faces while singing “Sk8er Boi” at the top of your lungs, which is exactly what I imagine Thomas Jefferson had in mind with his “pursuit of happiness” bit.
Drinking level: Moderate. We had ten people, with an average chorus lasting a minute, so you’re drinking max once every ten minutes. I had originally scored the drinking level for this game as “low,” but then realized I may have a slightly skewed understanding of what “low” means in this context. Draw your own conclusions.
Overall score: 8/10
Game 4: Egg Race
In an inarguably dickish move during the Great Egg Shortage of ’38, rich families would have their children put an egg on a spoon and run an obstacle course, trying and usually failing to keep the egg from smashing on the ground, while the omega-3-starved working classes looked on in horror.
I like to think we’re a little more civilized in 2013, so we did the same thing but with alcohol. Fill your shot glass to the brim, pick a course, and whenever you cross the finish line, you can give whatever’s left in your shot glass to anyone who finished after you.
Preparation required: Moderate. You need at least one shot glass per person, and since several of these glasses will likely be lost in battle, you might want to pick up some plastic ones.
Entertainment value: So, so high. I might be biased because of the friend who was in the lead until he ran full-force into a parking sign.
Drinking level: Depends how fast you can run. If you finish first, you’ll end the night sober. If you finish last, especially if you’re recovering from a losing fight with a parking sign, you’ll be given more than enough alcohol to forget your woes (until your “friend” publishes the story online, that is).
Overall score: 7/10
Game 5: Red Rover
I’m going to level with you here: we were all very, very drunk by the time we got to this game. For those who don’t know how Red Rover is played, you divide the group into two teams, who stand shoulder-to-shoulder holding hands and facing the opposing team. Team 1 picks a target from team 2, and then calls out, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send [target’s name] right over!” The target then must run at full speed towards team 1 and attempt to break the grip of two of its members with the sheer momentum of their body.
It did not end well.
Preparation required: Just get drunk enough that this game seems like a good idea.
Entertainment value: It’s all fun and games until you wake up in the morning with a sprained wrist/pulled hamstring/bruises literally everywhere, seriously, how did I manage to bruise my armpit? And why does it hurt when I breathe? What goddamn idiot thought this game was a good idea in the first place??
Drinking level: We were so drunkenly competitive that we forgot it was supposed to be a drinking game. We just played Red Rover.
Overall score: Don’t play this game. Seriously, reader, I care about your health and well-being and no good can come from this. Just…okay? Promise?
Conclusion: This experiment led me to the same conclusion that humanity has come to over and over for centuries: every single goddamn thing is better with alcohol. I imagine this article has put me on some Child Protective Services watchlist, but in case I manage to get away with having kids, my future offspring are in for one hell of a childhood.