Your teen might have the gift of gab when it comes to socializing with friends, but she probably clams up quickly when amid a less familiar group of peers. Fortunately, you can ease the tension at any teen event and get it off on the right foot. Play a few engaging games to break the ice and get your teen group mingling right away.
Get your teen group mingling with a game of "Who Am I," customized to your teen by using the characters from her favorite television show or movie. Write the names of the characters on cards and affix one to the back of each teen as they arrive. Now the group must mingle and ask questions to figure out which character they are. You can also play a game of "Famous Matches" where each teen can see the name on their card but must keep it hidden and ask questions to find their famous mate. Alternatively, help the teens learn a little about each other through silent interviews. Make up a list of questions and write down a different set of five questions on each card. Pair up the teens and have them find a nonverbal way to communicate and answer the questions.
Your teens will already have something to talk about when you help them find the things they have in common with other members of the group. Have the group go on a human scavenger hunt, searching for others with similar hobbies. Start by having each guest write a list of 10 facts about themselves, such as their hobbies, favorite animals, the places they've traveled and their best class in school. When everyone is ready, have them mingle and write down the names of other teens who share the same interests. Alternatively, you can make up bingo cards for each teen, each with a different characteristic, hobby or interest in each space. Have the teens find others with those interests and fill in the spaces with their names.
Find out how many good detectives you have in your teen's group with a game that tests their ability to spot the lie. Divide the group in two and start the game with your teen. Have her list two true things about herself as well as one lie. Now the other team has to try to determine which statement is the lie. A correct guess earns them a point while an incorrect guess earns your teen's team a point. Continue taking turns back and forth between the teens until everyone has had a chance to play. Playing the game in teams helps to create a little team spirit, making socializing more comfortable. You can also play this game by having each teen list just one statement about themselves for the other team to guess whether the statement is true or false.
Challenge your teen's memories with a personality-revealing game of story evolution by having the teens describe themselves instead of a story. Have your teen start the game by coming up with a self-descriptive adjective, followed by her first name (shy Isabella, sporty Luca, fashionable Natalia or silly Victoria). Next she tosses or bounces a basketball across the circle to another teen in the group who must recite your teen's descriptive name and come up with one of his own before tossing the ball across the circle again. Keep going until everyone's name has been added to the list, and see how many times the teens can list the names in the correct order for fun. You can use a beach ball to help the kids learn about each other. Inflate the ball and write questions all over it with permanent marker. Inflate the ball and have the teens toss it around, answering the question located under their right thumb when they catch the ball.