How To Play The Hat Game

The Hat Game is a great fun family game – two teams try and guess what’s written on slips of paper pulled from a hat! Despite its simplicity it can be hilarious.

This page has our instructions on how to play this brilliant family game. These instructions are also included on our handy Printable The Hat Game Download.

What You Need

To play The Hat Game, assemble these items:

  • A hat or some other similarly sized container
  • A few sheets of paper, or a printout of our Downloadable Instruction Sheet
  • Scissors
  • Pens if you want to write your own suggestions
  • A stopwatch or phone app that can time for a minute

1. Cut out the slips

Cut up the paper into slips approximately 7 x 5 cm in size. If you’re starting with a sheet of A4, fold it in half four times and cut along the folds to get 16 pieces of A8 which are about the right size. If you’re using the suggestions from our printable Hat Game instruction sheet, cut along the dotted lines!

2. Write on the slips

If you’re not using the suggestions on our PDF, you need to add your own words or phrases onto the slips of paper. Distribute the pens and paper slips amongst all of your players so that everyone can add some. We recommend a combination of topical names or items known to your group, with a mix of easy and obscure. We’ve put together a list of example words and phrases to use in the Hat Game to get you started (these are the same ones included on The Hat Game PDF download). Fold the slips in half and put them in the hat.

You need about 25 paper slips for a good game, more if you want to play for longer or have a lot of players. Keep to an odd number to avoid a tie.

3. Get into teams

You need to organise yourselves into at least two teams. The game works with three or more teams but we find two teams works best. Each team needs at least two players, but it doesn’t really matter how big the teams get. It’s not a problem if the teams have different numbers of players.

4. Start Playing

When you have a hat full of paper slips, it’s time to start playing the game! Teams take it in turns to take control of the hat, with one player trying to communicate to their team what’s written on as many slips of paper as they can, in one minute. The team that doesn’t have control of the hat uses the timer to time when the minute is up.

One Minute Per Team

After a minute, the other team takes control of the hat and continues to work through the remaining paper slips. Teams keep taking it in turns, one minute each, until the hat is empty.

The important thing is that teams keep all the paper slips they have guessed correctly – teams need to count these to determine their score at the end of each round.

Three Rounds

The genius of the game is that you have one set of things to guess but three different rounds in which to guess them. When the hat is empty, all the slips then go back in the hat and you move on to the next round.

Round 1: Unlimited Words

In the first round, there are no restrictions on how the player communicates what is written on the slip of paper to the rest of their team, except they may not use any of the words written on the paper.

Round 2: Only Three Words

In the second round, players may only use three words to describe what’s on the slip of paper to the rest of their team. None of those three words may be words written on the paper.

Round 3: No Words At All

In the final round, each player may only use mime to communicate what’s on the slip of paper to the rest of their team.

The Winning Team 

The team with the highest score after three rounds are the winners!


If you love the game as much as we do, check out the fantastic set we've put together which contains everything you need to play in a beautiful little box!

Exit mobile version