Ballyhoo - a game for Christmas

A game for 4-8 honest adults. The game is best enjoyed with good friends but is also an excellent introduction vehicle for new people joining the circle. Fine wine, good food and a roaring fire have been known to assist with the play.

To gain the most number of points AND/OR to find out as much as possible about everyone playing.

  • pens for all,
  • 3-7 small(ish) pieces of paper per person
  • a hat/container to hold the folded paper

Game play

Question round
This round starts with one person and continues until all players have asked a question. The first player is usually the one that's got that burning question and can't wait to blurt it out.
  1. Everyone thinks of a unique question to ask.
    The more provocative the question and the more likely the question to reveal the better.
  2. A person asks their question out loud.
  3. Everyone, including the questioner, writes onto a piece of paper:
    • The question (or a shortened version)
    • Their own answer
  4. All pieces of paper are folded up and put into the hat/container.
  5. The next person asks their question (cannot repeat an earlier question)
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for each player

Answer rounds
The questions are all mixed up (a la tossing a salad).

This round starts with one person and rotates left ("clock wise") around the circle.
Means of choosing the starting person are left to the players; suggestions are:
  • A drink-off
  • Arm wrestle
  • First one to the hat/container
  • Choose a card from a pack, highest wins
The following is repeated until the wine is all gone:
  1. A person ("it") puts their hand into the hat/container and pulls out one piece of paper
  2. The question is read out loud (even if it's their own question)
  3. "It", using their cunning, memory and inside knowledge chooses a player that they think wrote the answer to the question. They point and say, "You!"
  4. The pointed at person ("You!") must honestly state whether they the wrote the answer to the question
  5. Yes, it was "You!"
    1. Add 1 point to "It's" score
    2. Throw away the question/answer used
    3. "It" remains the same person
    4. Go to step 1
  6. No, it wasn't "You!"
    1. Fold the question/answer back up and pop it back into the hat/container
    2. "It" is passed onto the next person in the circle
    3. Go to step 1
Note: A question may be answered the same way by more than one person; unless you are chosen then keep schtumm ("quiet").

Game ends
When there are no more questions to ask AND/OR everyone has learned quite enough thank you very much.

Quicker games
  • Don't point score
  • Set a limit on the number times a person can be right - 3 seems a good set - before being "It" is passed on automatically
  • Don't put incorrect answers back into the hat/container but simply have someone own up to the answer. This rule tends to come into play towards the end of wine fulled disclosure.
  • Limit the number of players - 8 doesn't sound a lot but it can take some guessing

Questions from the playing field
Whilst the following questions have lead to 'interesting' answers they are provided only as samples and not as a definitive list - use your imagination people!
  • If it was a no-consequence act, who would you sleep with?
  • Who would you like to see killed?
  • How much do you earn?
  • What era does your soul feel connected to?
  • What was your first act of lurv like?
  • How much money would you like to earn?
  • Who was your teenage hero/heroine?
  • Where will you be this time next month?
  • Who would you turn gay for? (popularised by an Australian TV/radio host)
  • Who was your first crush?
  • ...

This game was originally laid out by an unknown Australian person.
It came to New Zealand/Aotearoa via Maxi on her visit to the "land of the long white cloud" back in the Yuletide of 2001.

Note: the name, Ballyhoo, came across from the Australia as well and is not in anyway connected with anything else you can find - it's just a name.

See also, "Do You Have To!?!", A Game For Parents


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