5 Super-Fun Games That Only Require a Pen and Paper

published Feb 24, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: WolfCreative/Stocksy

The silver lining to spending more time at home as a result of the pandemic is that many people now enjoy simpler diversions like board games and puzzles. But if you’d rather avoid another heated battle over Boardwalk and Park Place or you prefer to do jigsaw puzzles on your own (everybody’s got their own system), you might be ready for some new activities to enjoy with friends and family.

Whether your next gathering is virtual or in person, here are five fun options that require just a pen and some paper. Warning: Hilarity may ensue for children (and adults) of all ages.

Finish the Story

Write the first line of a story on a pad. For example: Once upon a time, there was a young girl who had a dog. The next person writes a line to continue. Before passing it to the next person, they fold or cover up the paper so that only the last line of the story is seen. Each player adds a line to the story to continue it, but they only have the previous line to serve as inspiration. Depending on how many people are playing, you might want to go on for several rounds of play before wrapping up the story. Once it’s finished, read the story to see what odd and often hilarious twists and turns the story has taken.

Blind Portraits

The thing about drawing games is that they’re more fun when you can’t draw, and this one proves this point incredibly well. Give the “artist” a pad of paper, a pencil, and a subject — which could be another person in the group or an inanimate object in the room. The artist should study the item for a minute or two, then the blindfold goes on for an attempt at drawing the person or object. An alternative way to play this game is to allow the artist to keep their eyes on the person or object as they draw, but they cannot look at the pad of paper to see what they’re drawing. Display the finished portraits and enjoy a few belly laughs.


You don’t need the Scattergories board game to have some fun with friends. Choose a series of broad categories like “cartoon characters” or “things that are blue.” Set a timer, divide into teams, and have each team write down as many words or phrases that fit the category. When time is up, each team reads their answers. All teams must cross out any items that also appear on another team’s list. Each unique answer scores a point for that team, so the idea here is to come up with uncommon answers wherever possible. The team with the most points at the end of several rounds of play is the winner.

Who Am I?

Grab a pen and a stack of sticky notes for this game. For every player, hand out a note with the name of a famous (or infamous) person that they can stick to their forehead or their back. Each person has to move about the room and mingle, asking a series of yes-or-no questions to determine their “identity.” Depending on the size of the group, you might also want to have each person find their counterpart. For example, once a person determines they are Meghan Markle, they have to find Prince Harry. 

Paper Telephone

The regular telephone game involves a simple sentence that is passed down the line by whispering, which results in it being altered based on what listeners think they heard. This side-splitting premise is applied to drawing in this version. On a pad of paper, write out a simple sentence, such as “I ran down the street.” The next player must create a drawing depicting that sentence. The third player must write a sentence describing the picture without seeing the first sentence. Then the next player draws a picture of the second sentence. This cycle continues down the line until the paper returns to the person who wrote the first sentence. Unless you’ve got some real artists in the group, you’ll likely have some belly laughs when you see how different the final sentence is from the first based on the drawing interpretations.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 5 Fun Games to Play That Only Require a Pen and Paper