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21’s or 21, is a classic drinking game which doesn’t require anything, well besides the drinks, to set it up. But its simplicity and the freedom to customise the rules is what makes it beautiful. Just gather your friends in a circle and you’ll already be prepped to start! Here’s our complete guide on how to play 21’s, accompanied by some rule ideas to design your own drinking game rules!

21’s Drinking Game Rules

Alright, so the first thing you need to do is get your friends and sit in a circle. Before playing the game, you guys can hold hands, chant some positive affirmations and declare what you love and appreciate about one another. You can also choose to forgo this wholesome intro ritual.

21 drinking game

Anyway, going around the circle, everyone says a consecutive number starting from 1 (so like 1,2,3…) until someone reaches 21. Once someone gets to 21, everyone can have a drink. The person who got to 21 must make a rule about one of the numbers in rotation (besides 21). So, they could say that when someone reaches 4, they have to scream instead of saying “4”; otherwise, they have to drink. Hopefully, you won’t get a noise complaint from the neighbors.

Lets’s say someone says “4” instead of screaming; not only do they have to drink but the counting must start over. So the person next to them has to start from 1 rather than 5. As the game goes on and more rules are established, you guys are probably gonna be going back to 1 pretty often.

After 21, the circle starts from 1 again. And whenever someone gets to 21, they have to make a rule about one of the other numbers (the rule for 21 is saved for last). You could also count up to 15 if you have a particularly small group.

If someobody forgets a rule linked to a number, just don’t tell them. If that number comes to them, they’ll have to drink. But eventually, they’ll figure out what it is when they see what other people do.

21’s Drinking Game Rule Ideas

Coming up with rules for each number can be pretty fun. Here are some rule ideas we came up with:

  • Instead of saying a number when it comes, you have to say 14, or like any other number.
  • When a certain number comes to rotation, the order of the circle has to go backwards. So if the circle goes clockwise and someone reaches 8, the counting then continues counter-clockwise. This one’s pretty easy to mess up.
  • Another basic rule: replacing numbers with words. The more complicated the word, the better 😉
  • Switch up the language: so instead of saying “four” for example, you would say “cuatro”.
  • You have to whisper the number instead of saying it in your normal voice. This rule is probably the easiest one to mess up. So believe me, there’ll be a lot of drinking involved.
  • Similarly, you can also make a rule that you have to scream a number rather than saying it normally.
  • Clap your hands instead of saying a certain number.
  • Bark instead of saying a number. If you guys decide to go with sounds instead of numbers, the game would soon become a confusing circle of people making the strangest noises. That can also be pretty fun.
  • When you reach a number (let’s say 17), you have to have a drink with the person who said “6” during the same round.
  • Instead of saying the number, you have to say the name of someone in the circle and they have to take a drink. The group probably shouldn’t take advantage of this and try to get only one person super drunk. But hey, we can’t tell you what to do.
  • When you land on a number, you have to say the name of a capital city around the world. You can’t say the name of a city twice. Put your geography knowledge to use!
  • The previous rule can be extended to fit with other categories. Some of our favorites are: car brands, nickelodeon tv shows, words in a foreign language, dog breeds, and football teams.
  • Let’s get physical: Perform an action instead of saying the number. It could be standing up, doing a squat, or like jogging in place for a couple seconds.
  • Say the number in a super deep or extremely high-pitched voice.
  • Don’t say anything at all when a number comes up. If the others forget this rule, it can be pretty funny when they wait for the awkward silence to end, rather than moving on to the next number.
  • Raise your hand up high instead of saying a number, everyone must follow along and the last one to do it has to drink.

We hope you guys are gonna have fun playing along with some of these rules and making up some of your own! For more drinking game guides and ideas, you can always check out our Party Guide.

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