Many bonfire parties typically consist of people relaxing, listening to or playing music, and just hanging out. You can break out a few traditional campfire games to liven up the occasion. Bonfires are usually lighted at dusk, so playing games will keep everyone occupied while they wait for the fire to begin. Choose games based on the age of most of the people as well as the size of the group.
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Play simple, traditional campfire games for small children. To play Telephone, one child starts a phrase and whispers it into the ear of the child closest to her; the process continues until the phrase gets to the last person. That child then repeats what she has heard -- a phrase usually much different from how it started. Another game to play around the fire is Hot Potato. An object is passed around the circle while music plays. The player holding the object when the music stops is out.
Teens may be more interested in just hanging out around the bonfire, but you might be able to get them to play a couple of games. Truth or Dare is a classic teen game in which a player has to answer a question about himself honestly or perform a dare, usually a wild stunt or something slightly embarrassing. Another teen game is Two Truths and a Lie. For this game, each person says three statements about himself, one of which is untrue. The rest of the group must try to figure out which statement is the lie.
Plenty of recreational activities are available for people of all ages to play near the bonfire before it gets too dark. These include playing Frisbee, volleyball and touch football. If people of all ages are at the bonfire, organize teams that have an even number of children and adults to make it fair, unless the children want to challenge the adults. For a beach bonfire, if it's still daylight and lifeguards are on duty, you can swim or surf as well.
Large Group Games
For large groups, try interactive games that get everyone up and moving. Ideal for a bonfire in a large, wooded area, Manhunt is a more challenging version of Tag. Everyone hides from the person who is "it," but as she finds each person, the person must join her and help her find the other people. The last person to be found wins the game. Another game for large groups is Capture the Flag. Players are divided into two teams, and each is given territory and a flag to hide. Each team must also designate a jail area for captured members of the other team. Teams try to sneak onto the other's territory to find and grab their flag and bring it back to their side. Any team members caught on enemy territory are put in the jail area until they are rescued by being tagged by their teammates. The first team to grab the other team's flag and make it back to its side wins.