What it is: A reverse game of hide and seek where, instead of one person seeking while everyone else hides, you have one person hiding while everyone else seeks.

Best for: At least 6 players or so, up to a group maybe twice that size.

What you need: A place to play. This is an ideal indoor game, but could also be played outside in a yard or park as long as there are lots of good places to hide.

How to play: First, set the boundaries for your playing area. Then choose one player to be It. We’ll call him Tim. Everyone else but Tim closes their eyes and counts out loud together to a predetermined number, like 50. (The larger your playing area is, the higher the number can be.) While everyone is counting, Tim goes and hides. He can choose anywhere he wants, like inside a blanket closet, for example. Then he sits quietly and waits.

After the rest of the players are done counting, they call out, “Ready or not, here we come!” And then they start to seek. The seeking is done every-man-for-himself style: no teams, just individual players looking for Tim by themselves. Everyone tries to find Tim first.

Say Anna is the first player to open the blanket closet and find Tim. First of all, she’ll want to make sure no other player is watching her. Then as quietly as she can, she slips into the blanket closet and hides along with him. Now Tim and Anna both are as still and quiet as they can be, still trying to avoid being found.

Maybe Louis is the next player to happen along and find Tim’s hiding spot. Now he squeezes in, too, and the three of them hide until they’re joined by a fourth, and a fifth… And everyone hides right along with Tim. If the blanket closet runs out of room, players do their best to hide close by, but it’s best if everyone can fit into Tim’s original hiding spot. (Are you seeing why the game is called sardines now?)

The last person to find Tim is the new It, and a new round starts!

It’s a fun game and (good for adults needing some peace) a quiet game. It’s kind of eerie in a way, too, which I guess is part of the fun. But when there’s 10 of you and you’re all searching for one hiding person and you’re looking and looking and start realizing the other players searching with you are dwindling and dwindling, and you have no idea where they’re all disappearing to, and you keep searching, and finally you open the blanket closet to see all 10 of your friends crammed in there – yeah, all part of the fun.

It’s also kind of hilarious, trying to fit as many people as you can into what’s usually a small hiding place. Sometimes the hiding place is larger, though, like in a walk-in pantry, and that’s perfectly fine too (and a little easier). It’s always, fun, too, to hide along with a group of your friends and cover your mouths and try not to giggle. It takes some of the lonely suspense (which I’m not a fan of) out of the normal version of hide and seek.

Variations: For some other games along the theme of hiding and seeking, check out the classic hide and seek, as well as kick the can, hit the dirt, and capture the flag.

Man, typing all of this up is making me want to go and play! I haven’t played sardines in far too long. 🙂

Happy hiding!


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