The history of “breaking the ice”
Originally an “icebreaker” was the term for a boat that went through the pack ice and served to break it up. It has also come to mean something that relieves inhibitions or tension between people, so that they begin to talk freely with one another. Sometimes people feel shy at parties because it means speaking with people that they do not know well. It can be intimidating to speak to strangers especially if they are older or in positions of authority.
Using meet and mingle mystery party games as icebreakers
We have a special format of our mystery party kits called “meet and mingle” kits which cater for large groups. These “meet and mingle kits” are great party icebreakers as everyone has to mingle and talk to one another about their clue(s) in order to solve the mystery. They act as an equalizer also, because everyone is in the same boat – they are also trying to solve the mystery and they know just as much or as little as you do.
With this format only the rules and a report or two are read out to the whole group and people mingle and talk about their clues and find out about other people’s clues and pass on what they find out. This works better for large groups for informal parties as it is easier than trying to get everyone to hear every clue.
The following kits are great icebreakers as they are available in meet and mingle format:
- Celebrity Celebrations (for up to 100) – a celebrity mystery with characters like Elvis and Marilyn Monroe
- Out Of The Game (for up to 50 guests) – a baseball mystery set in the 1940s
- Murder of the Great Chef – a classic murder mystery set in the 1940s – our gangster mystery
- Murder on the Prairie (for up to 50 guests) – set in the wild west with cowboys and can-can girls
- Mystery in the Library (for up to 100) – set in a library where the book characters come alive at night
- Poetic Justice (for up to 50 guests) – a mystery with famous poets and other authors from the 1920s
- Storm Survivors (for up to 50 guests) – a sports themed mystery involving athletes
- The Balmy Bahamas Cruise (for up to 100) – a mystery about some celebrities that are on a cruise together
- The Case of the Missing Matchmaker – a romantic mystery
- Who Killed Santa? (for up to 100) – a mystery that is perfect for holiday parties
- Who Stole Cookies? – another mystery set in a library.
We generally recommend the meet and mingle kits for groups of 17 or more. But the other kits in either standard or play format are also good as ice breakers for smaller parties.
If you find someone is still shy and not talking to people at your party, it can help to go around the group with them for a little while. That way you can introduce them to people and show them how to talk about their clue. Once they see how friendly everyone is, they will begin to relax and to get into the spirit of things.
The lines in each kit are often quite amusing and so that can also help break the tension. Laughter as they say is the best remedy. People also add to the fun through their costumes and their creative dressing in order to be more like their character.
Other dinner party ice breaker techniques
Question and answer icebreakers
Have enough cards so you have one for each guest.
- Write out icebreaker questions on half the cards, and the answers to those questions on the other half.
- When guests arrive give each a question OR an answer. If there is an equal number of men and women, give the questions to the women and the answers to the men or vice versa.
- Tell them that each guest with a question has to ask everyone their question until they find the person with the right answer. When a person is asked a question, they must give the answer, or the question, which is written on their card. When they find the person with the correct answer, they introduce themselves and chat.
Note: Our Celebrity Celebrations mystery dinner party kit contains an optional trivia quiz game which works like the above icebreaker game. The Case of the Missing Matchmaker also has a matching party game that works this way.
Find out their name game
This icebreaker game is a good way of remembering people’s names and putting everyone in a relaxed and friendly mood.
- Have everyone sit or stand in a circle.
- Get the first person to say their name and something they like starting with the same initial. For example: “My name is Mary and I like muffins.”
- Then get the next person to introduce the first person (Mary) again and then himself or herself saying, “This is Mary and she likes muffins, my name is Jack and I like jumping”.
- Go around the circle with every person introducing everyone from the very first person (Mary). If you have a very large crowd this can be a bit difficult but everyone can help out. Using the same initial helps to jog the memory. This icebreaker game gets everyone laughing, especially if people use peculiar things that they like.
Note: When using our mystery party games, we always suggest you give each guest a name tag showing the name of the character they are playing. At the end of the party, if people don’t know each other, it is fun to have people guess what each of them does in “real life” after having played fictional characters all night. This is also when you can introduce everyone using their real names.
It’s a great icebreaker and fun to have everyone to write down their first impressions of one another.
- When guests arrive have someone tape a piece of card onto their back and give everyone a pen or pencil.
- Ask the guests to write their first impressions of that person on the card on their back.
- Ask them to write witty and nice comments – bright eyes, figure to die for, seductive smile, soothing voice, lovely legs etc.
- When everyone has written comments on everyone’s card, have each guest read out the card on back of the person beside them.
Here are some icebreakers with ways to introduce yourself to someone new so that you can find out more about them and get to know them better. You may like to get your guests to introduce themselves using these icebreaker ideas.
- Find someone you’ve never met before and ask them to tell you three interesting things about themselves. Try to avoid questions like “where do you live?” and “how many children do you have?”. Questions like “what book is on your bedside table?“, “what was the most important thing your mother taught you?” and “what music drives you mad?” can elicit more interesting and often humorous answers. It also gives everyone quite a bit of information about what the person is like.
- The interviewee then does the same thing to their interviewer.
- After about 15 minutes of chatting, each person introduces his or her partner to the others, using the information gained.