Telephone Pictionary: The BEST party game for Adults and kids!

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Telephone Pictionary is the BEST, funniest, most entertaining party game I have ever played.  The Telephone Pictionary game only needs pencils and paper to play it, and it's great for both adults and kids.  Be prepared to laugh so hard you cry when you play Telephone Pictionary with your friends and family.

Telephone Pictionary party game instructions

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How to Play Telephone Pictionary

Do you remember playing telephone when you were a little kid?  Sitting in a circle, whispering something from kid to kid, and laughing at the end when you'd hear what the original phrase transformed into by the end?  That's the general principle of this game, too, but with WAY funnier results.  And it's so much fun that we've even converted die-hard-party-game-haters into fans.

How Many People do you Need to Play Telephone Pictionary?

You really need a minimum of four people to play telephone pictionary.  The sweet spot is between six and twelve people, but you can absolutely do it with even larger groups, too.  It doesn't work with fewer people, unfortunately.  

Graphic of Telephone Pictionary Instructions

Telephone Pictionary Instructions Step 1:

Count how many people are playing the game.  Make a stack of paper for each player.  Each stack of paper should have as many sheets of paper as the number of people playing the game.

For example:  If seven people are playing the game, each person needs a stack of seven sheets of paper.

Tip: I cut pieces of printer paper in half for this game.  Half a sheet of paper is plenty big for what you need to do.

Graphic of Telephone Pictionary Instructions

Telephone Pictionary Instructions Step 2:

Have each person number the pages in their stack of paper.  

Stack of paper and a pencil for playing Telephone Pictionary

I recommend everyone numbering the pages in the top right corner for consistency.

Graphic of Telephone Pictionary Instructions

Telephone Pictionary Instructions Step 3:

Each person should write a phrase on the top sheet of paper (the sheet marked #1 in the top right corner).  It can be absolutely anything.  I've had party guests use everything from "gerbils in space" to "A clown riding a skateboard robs a bank and gives the money to homeless children."  It can be ANYTHING.

Stack of paper with the words "aliens throw a party" written on it for playing telephone pictionary

Here's an example that we did for this post:  Aliens throw a party.

Graphic of Telephone Pictionary Instructions

Telephone Pictionary Instructions Step 4

Now the fun really begins.  Hand your ENTIRE STACK of paper (with the phrase written on page 1 on the top of the stack) to the person to your left.

Graphic of Telephone Pictionary Instructions

Telephone Pictionary Instructions Step 5

Read the phrase written on page 1, then move page 1 to the BOTTOM OF THE STACK.  Page 2 is now on top of the stack.  Draw a picture of the phrase written on page one.

Drawing of aliens throwing a party for a telephone pictionary game

Here is my rendition of "aliens throw a party."  I was pretty proud of it, but also kind of worried that the next person would think that a cockroach was throwing a party for Edvard Munch's The Scream.

Graphic of Telephone Pictionary Instructions

Telephone Pictionary Instructions Step 6

Pass the entire stack of paper (this time with page #2, with your drawing) to the left again.  You'll receive a stack of paper with a drawing on top.  Move that drawing to the bottom of the stack, and WRITE what you think the drawing was on sheet #3.

Drawing of aliens throwing a party interpreted as "nightmare birthday party" for a Telephone Pictionary game.

Evidently my alien party is the stuff of my husband's nightmares.  

Graphic of Telephone Pictionary Instructions

Telephone Pictionary Instructions Step 7

Continue passing the stack of papers to the left, alternating between writing a description of what you see drawn, and drawing a picture of the words written down.  

Keep going until you get your original stack back (you'll know it's yours because there will be no more blank pages left).  

Go around the table, having everyone share the hilarious ways that their initial phrase morphed as it passed from person to person.  Bring tissues.  You will cry with laughter every time.

Example of a Finished Telephone Pictionary Stack:

Phrase used to start a game of Telephone Pictionary

My starting phrase:  Santa wears a Rudolph sweater, and Rudolph wears a Santa sweater.

Drawing of santa wearing a Rudolph sweater, and Rudolph wearing a Santa sweater for a game of Telephone Pictionary

A truly exceptional rendition from my husband!  

Telephone Pictionary game

Aaaaand it only takes until the third sheet for it to go completely off the rails.  Since you guys aren't used to reading my youngest daughter's handwriting (and she really wasn't trying to do it well in the hurry of the game), I've translated:

"There is a cursed Santa (my other daughter thought it said 'saint') that is possessed with no hands, and a cursed reindeer (other daughter thought it said 'veindeer') that is possessed with another Santa's head pinned to his shirt."

Drawing from a game of Telephone Pictionary

I think that's a pretty excellent handless saint and veindeer.  ;-)   I would have loved to have seen where this would go next if we'd had more people playing for this example!

Can you Write Words in the Drawings in Telephone Pictionary?

We've always played allowing some words written in the drawings.  Nothing descriptive or labeling any of the items, but speech bubbles are ok.

Drawing from a Telephone Pictionary game

For example, the fish saying "whee!" on the roller coaster, and the sign on the ticket booth are acceptable.  I would not label the whole thing "Goldfish-Friendly Theme Park."

Do you have to be good at art to play Telephone Pictionary?

Heck no!  It's funnier if you're not a particularly good artist, in fact!  Half the hilarity comes from people saying things like "That was supposed to be an elephant?!?" as the stacks get shared.  But if you're a great artist, you're still allowed to play, of course.  This game is great for anyone old enough to write and draw reasonably representative pictures.

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