Surpass the Parcel

From Ludocity
Surpass the Parcel
Designer: Kevan Davis and Holly Gramazio
Year: unknown
Players: 12+
Stuff required: A prize, lots of wrapping paper, printed instruction sheets, a scoreboard.
Crew required: One.
Preparation: Wrapping.
Time required: 20 minutes to an hour.
Place required: A large,
Activities: Ambient, finding, trading.
This is a playable game - it's finished, tested and ready to play.
This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)
An example instruction sheet.

An ambient game of pass the parcel to be played at a larger party or gaming event, where the parcel moves around the venue in search of particular types of people.


Buy a decent-sized prize; a box of chocolates or larger. Wrap it in successive layers of paper as per standard Pass the Parcel (with a few sweets inside some of the layers, if you feel like it), but on the outside of each layer, attach a printed instruction sheet. An instruction sheet should take the following format, with a large, empty box between the first and second bullet points:-

  1. Find somebody here who is taller than you, give them this parcel, then write your name in the box below.
  2. This will be worth one point to you. (You can give the parcel to someone who's shorter than you, but you don't get to write your name or get a point.)
  3. You can not take the parcel again until this layer has been unwrapped.
  4. If you are leaving the playing area, even to go and play a different game, do not take this parcel with you. Give it to someone else.
  5. Occasionally throughout the night, someone will honk a horn and announce that it's unwrapping time. If you're holding the parcel at this point, unwrap one layer and read the next set of instructions.
  6. The discarded layers will be collected, and a running total of everyone's points will be kept on the wall near the door.

Replace "taller than you" with other, different criteria for each layer - "find somebody here who has longer hair than you", "who has lived in [city] longer than you", "who has an alphabetically-earlier name", "who travelled further to get here", and so on.

You can also throw in some minigames; "Challenge someone to Rock, Paper, Scissors. If they win, they get the parcel. If you win, they get the parcel but you can write your name in the box first."

The final layer of the parcel should be "Find somebody with more points than you.", and doesn't have a box for name scoring.


Release the parcel into the wild, with or without fanfare.

Every so often, sound a horn (or some other noise) and shout out to see where the parcel has got to. The current holder should unwrap it and hand you the removed instruction sheet; transfer the names onto the scoreboard, and continue the game until the final layer has been removed. Whoever removes the final layer gets the prize inside it.

Alternate Gameplay

Every layer of the package entitles the un-wrapper to a small prize (from the moderator), but disqualifies the un-wrapper from winning the big prize. This creates an incentive to pass the parcel to another player (a la "Hot Potato"), but offers a token reward for the disqualified players.

Play history

  • We played "Surpass the Parcel" at the first BARG meeting as a way of instigating mingling and finding out more about the people who were there. [Write-up]
  • Surpass the Parcel was played in the US at several events in Pittsburgh in December 2010, organized by Adam Nelson of Obscure Games. Another version of the instruction sheet, with minimal text:

Handout thumbnail for Surpass_the_parcel_instructions_3.pdf.

Download Surpass_the_parcel_instructions_3.pdf
Graphic-heavy Surpass the Parcel instructions