Mixers and Icebreakers:
What is a mixer? A mixer is an ice breaking activity done at the beginning of an event to give people a chance to get to know and become comfortable with each other. They are often ridiculous games that are not intimidating for new people. Below is a list of entertaining mixers and explanations of how to do each one. To put these mixers into the NFTY Program Format, plug them into the Mixer Template, also found on this page.
Have people sit in a circle. Each person should say their name and which cartoon character they would date if they were, in fact, cartoon characters. You can also have people say their favorite kind of cheese, favorite kitchen utensil, songs that would be the theme songs to the movies of their lives, what superpower they would want, first thing they would do if they were Harry Potter for a day, most embarrassing moment, favorite out-of-style fashion, the fake definition of what their name is backwards, etc. This is a basic way to release much of the group’s tension, and is meant as an introductory activity. (Materials: None. Estimated Running Time: 5 minutes)
Ask participants to stand up in a circle, and give pillows to two volunteers. Explain the game: the leader will call out the name of someone in the circle and the people in the middle run to hit this person with pillows. The person who was called must say the name of someone else in the circle, and the people in the middle will then run to hit them instead. The people with pillows can hit their target as many times as they wish until that person calls someone else’s name. If the person whose name was called can call out someone else’s name before getting hit with a pillow, they may remain in the circle. If they get hit with a pillow legitimately, they must step out of the circle and are out until the next round. People in the circle can only call the same name once in a row, or they are out. The last two people remaining become the people with pillows in the following round. (Materials: two pillows per group. Estimated Running Time: 10-20 minutes.)
“Groupie Rock Paper Scissors”
Partners are to play one round of Rock Paper Scissor. The winner moves on to compete further, while the loser follows him/her and cheers her on (becoming a groupie). Every time that someone wins a round, their opponent and their opponent’s groupies become their groupies. This process continues until there are only two people left. The final round is two out of three. PP’s are now back in one large group and can start a new program or play again. (Materials: None. Estimated Running Time 5-10 minutes.)
Each group has between 7-12 people. One person stands in the middle with everyone else standing shoulder to shoulder in a circle around him or her. The people on the outside must pass an apple around the circle without the person in the middle catching them. Each person must also try to take a bite of the carrot and swallow without being caught. The person in the center is continually guessing who has the apple. If someone is caught holding the apple, he or she switches with the person in the center. The person in the middle when the apple is completely gone loses. This game can also be played with carrots, zucchinis, cucumbers, etc. (Materials: Several apples. Estimated Running Time: 10-15 minutes.)
“The Interrupting Game”
The group sits in a circle with one person standing in the center. That person says something about his or her name and something about his or her self. If someone has something in common with that person they stand up, interrupt them and say their name and what they have in common with that person. They continue about themselves until someone else interrupts them and so on and so forth. (Materials: None. Estimated Running Time: 5-15 minutes.)
“Middle School Dance Tag”
Tells participants to face their partner and put their hands on their partner’s shoulders (kind of like middle-schoolers do at their dances). The object of the game is to step on their partner’s feet as many times as possible. First person to step on the other person’s feet 10 times wins. Once game is complete, participants start over. Have participants rotate after a few games. (Materials: None. Estimated Running Time: 5-10 minutes.)
“Chinese Knee Tag”
Participants start back to back. On the count of three participantss turn around (to face their partner) and grab a hold of their wrist, not their hand but their wrist (they should be holding the same hand i.e. their right). After a minute or two, PPs try to tag the back of their partner’s opposite knee. (Demonstrate first). Once a participant has tagged his or her partner, they keep trying until the GLL stops them to move onto the next mixer. (Materials: None. Estimated Running Time 5-10 minutes.)
“Flamingo Knock Down”
Participants start back to back. On the count of three, they turn around, cross their arms over their chests, lift one foot off the ground, and try to knock their partner off balance so they have to put their foot down. The goal is not to knock their partner down, and they may not use their free leg to kick the other person. Once they have succeeded in knocking their partner off balance, they keep trying to do it again until told to switch partners. (Materials: None. Estimated Running Time 5-10 minutes.)
Have participants choose a partner, introduce themselves, and discuss and demonstrate their favorite dance move (or make up a dance move together, time permitting). Plays music and tells PP to dance in that style with their partner briefly. When music stops, have participants start over with a new partner, each rotation should take no more than a minute. Sample styles: salsa, cha-cha, freestyle, swing, slow, disco, rap, ballroom, line, etc. (Materials: music and some way to play it loudly such as iPod with sound system or boombox with cd. Estimated Running Time: 10-20 minutes).
Before the participants arrive, blow up balloons for them and place a random word inside of it. When they get there, instruct them to form groups of 2 and hand each group one balloon. Partners must work together to pop the balloon using their bodies, not merely stomping on it. After they pop the balloon, they must come up with a funny story about the word and at the end, everyone must share their stories. (Materials: Strips of paper with random words, balloons. Estimated Running Time: 10-20 minutes.)
Have everyone find a partner and move the group into a close, confined area and designate invisible boundaries calling it the “subway car.” Everyone must stay inside the subway car. Have one of the partners raise their hands and they are “It.” That person is to chase their partner without going out of the bounds. When the runner is tagged, they must spin in a circle shouting “I’m it, I’m it” so that their partner can run away. (Materials: small space. Estimated Running Time: 5-10 minutes.)
This is a cooperative version of "regular" tag. You should designate a few people to be "freezers". Then tell everyone else to scatter in all directions. The freezers count to ten, and then take off after the runners. Once they tag a runner that person becomes one of the freezers. A player is safe from being tagged only when he or she is hugging another player. Players can only maintain a hug for 5 seconds. (Materials: None. Estimated Running Time: 5-10 minutes.)
Have participants find a partner. Explain that throughout the entire game they can only walk. Each partner pair will designate someone to be “it.” The “it” partner will count to ten while their partner walks away. If a person gets tagged by their partner, they are now “it” and must count to ten while their partner walks away. Feel free to have participants switch partners halfway through. (Materials: None. Estimated Running Time: 5-10 minutes.)
“Three Little Pigs”
Each group must plan their own re-enactment of the Three Little Pigs to present to the group. But each group must act it out in a different style (examples-Opera, rap, western, Shakespearean, Film Noir, Jack Bauer, slo-mo, etc.) Feel free to use any other children’s story. (Materials: None. Estimated Running Time: 15-20 minutes.)
Have everyone close their eyes. The goal is to count to 30 with only one person speaking at a time. You start over if two people say the number at the same time. (Materials: None. Estimated Running Time: 5-10 minutes).
“No Means No”
Leader explains the significance of the necklaces to the group –participants can enjoy themselves and act normally, but the word “no” is banned for the rest of the night (except during programs). If a participant says the word “no,” they forfeit all the necklaces they have to the participant whom they said “no” to. At the end of the event (or night), whoever has the most necklaces wins a prize. Encourage participants to approach those with more necklaces to make them say “no”, and even if an participant has lost all of their necklaces, they can still play to steal necklaces from those who have more. (Materials: necklace per participant. Estimated Running Time: full evening/night.)
Each participant will take one strip and will look to “assassinate” the person on the strip. To assassinate a target, a person must say the catchphrase (“Bang Bang, You’re Dead) to their target quiet enough that only their target can hear (if anyone else hears, the assassin “misses”). The target then gives their most recent target to the assassin, and this becomes the assassin’s new target. Here’s the twist: the person who was assassinated becomes the bodyguard for the person who killed them. If the person whom they are “protecting” is assassinated as well, they become the bodyguard of the person who assassinated them and so on (picture Groupie Rock-Paper-Scissors, such that by the end there will be a few assassins walking around each with their own entourage of bodyguards). The person to successfully “outlast” and “assassinate” all of their peers is the winner, and receives the prize at the end of the event. Explain that this game is not to be played during programs, meetings, or services.
More official version: To guarantee that the game moves forward and that there is only one winner, the creator should only include those who would like to play, and make a circle with everyone’s names (A-B-C-D-…-Y-Z-A). All other rules stay the same. (Materials: strips with participants’ names OR master list. Estimated Running Time: until the end of an event.)