a woman in profile, painted in watercolor, sitting at a table in a cafe, sipping tea

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Group Art Activities for Your Next Gathering

When you host a gathering of friends and family, group art activities create fine memories and a lot of giggles.

You don’t have to corral every attendee into the fun, but being prepared with props and a few inexpensive supplies might help lure the timid to the dinner/art table.

Below you’ll find 3 art activities for a gathering of friends and family that won’t break the bank, or require seasoned art-making-skills.

dinner table caricatures are an excellent art activity for hanging out and digesting before dessert. A woman seated near a Christmas tree is drawing with paper and pencil and laughing at her subject - a man in hat and sunglasses wearing a kerchief and snickering.
Dinner Table Caricature Portraits – Simple, Fun Art and Giggles with Friends and Family

Dinner Table Caricature Portraits

Drawing cartoons of each other at the dinner table – after the dishes are cleared – while everyone is visiting and digesting – will make you all laugh.

While dessert pies are warming in the oven, pull out simple supplies to draw caricatures of each other. A box of pencils, erasers, regular printer paper, a few props, and some cheerful encouragement are all you’ll need.

If you adorn your family and friend models with sunglasses, hats, wigs and beards, the challenging parts of drawing a face are simplified into flat shapes. The “I can’t draw” members of the party might be encouraged with this simplification trick.

Use your own props, or order a pack of flat paper props (below) based on the preferences of your tribe. Feel free to add speech bubbles, or fun eyes, noses and mouth stickers like these.

Ask each participant to label their cartoon with the sitter’s name, and a “drawn by _________” and the date. In 50 years, the younger kids in attendance will recall the particulars of the activity with those added details.

Flat, paper cut outs of Christmas themed masks on sticks so they can be helps near faces for photos or drawing. Hats, bow ties, beards, antlers, pipes and moustaches in Christmas colors
These props will make drawing each other festive, and easier, since the shapes are flat and simple. They also mark facial features with more of a cartoon caricature, which will be easier to render for the non-artists in your bunch than realistic facial features.
Silly caricatures drawn in pencil on paper, showing faces in santa hats and sunglasses, cat in christmas hats , from dinner table caricature portraits
Encourage your guests to keep the drawings simple, and try not to fuss with too many details. Drawing is meant to be fun (just ask the children in attendance), and not an angst-ridden slog to create a masterpiece (an adult view).

Art Supplies for Dinner Table Caricature Portraits

  • Paper – you can use printer paper, or lined notebook paper, or a pad of blank paper. If you have enough sketch paper to share a few sheets with everyone, that’ll work too. It doesn’t have to be artist quality, since this is about fun, and not a focus on masterpiece art-making.
  • Pencils & Erasers – novice sketchers will want the option to erase and alter their caricature drawings, so an assortment of (glitter) pencils and a pile of eraser caps in fun colors will show your guests that the tools in art making don’t have to be fancy.
  • A good pencil sharpener – For folks with dexterity enough to hold a pencil level while twisting – this Alvin sharpener is great (and you can replace the blades??). If your guests need something fast and full proof, this is my favorite little work-horse of an electric pencil sharpener in my studio.
  • Props – This 29 piece paper cut-out prop set for photo booth fun (or selfies) adds costume options to your guests’ portraits. These colorful hats, glasses and beards are especially helpful for folks who are unsure of their drawing skills. The flat paper cut-outs simplify facial features into less challenging, drawable shapes and outlines. If you don’t want to buy a prop set, pull out all your hats, sunglasses, and wigs in a pile on the table.
a portrait of a woman at a table strewn with wine glasses, with her chin resting on her hand and a window behind her, looking off in the dustance, pondering
Joyce 5.5 x 8.5 Watercolor on Paper (private collection)
two sweet potato halves carved into stamps. One with a star and the other with a heart, dipped in blue and pink paint, and stamped in multiple impressions on a sheet of paper

Group Art Activities: Potato Print Stationery, Envelopes and Wrapping Paper

With a few potatoes carved into fun shapes, ink pads (or a little acrylic paint spread on paper plates), and paper, your guests can make beautiful stationery, or wrapping paper.

A stack of plain white envelopes, or 8. x 11 paper can be stamped around the margins to create unique, hand embellished stationery.

If the younger folks in your party plan to write thank you cards for the presents they’ve been gifted, this project will supply their stationery and envelopes.

A roll of kraft paper stamped in colorful stars or hearts will result in beautiful, handmade wrapping paper.

Sheets of paper and enveloped with repeated designs stamped across the top or around the border in purple or green ink, from impressions made with potato prints
Your Potato Print Stationery and Envelopes can be much simpler than the marks shown here, and they’ll be just as fun!

Art Supplies for Potato Print Stationery and Wrapping Paper

  • Potatoes make great stamps, and they carve easily. Use russet potatoes, or sweet potatoes.
  • Carving tools (for the grownups) can be as simple as a paring knife, or an x-acto knife for more details. If you have small cookie or vegetable cutters like these, they can be used to push into the sliced end of a potato half as a template for stars, trees and flowers, etc. You can even pre-cut the shapes into the potatoes a few hours in advance of your project to avoid the mess and carving-time for your guests.
  • Paper – this acid free, bleedproof marker paper is 8.5×11 so it will fold into a standard envelope after the stamping art dries, and notes are written to loved ones.
  • Paint – this set of 24 colors of acrylic paint will wash up with water, and dry on the paper permanently. Mix the colors on paper plates, and spread the colors thinly and evenly with a brush onto a separate, clean plate for stamping the potato into the pigment. Collect color and then press the paint coated surface of the potato against your paper in repeated and overlapping colors and designs. You can also use inked stamp pads in a variety of colors.
cookie or fruit cutters in shapes that will make perfectly fun potato prints. A flower, a heart, a star a scalloped circle, etc.
Kraft Paper Trace Portraits held proudly by two little artists

Group Art Activities: Life Sized Trace Portraits on Kraft Paper

With a roll of kraft paper and a pencil, you can create the equivalent of drawn snow angles. Trace life sized outlines or shadows of each of your guests.

Smaller folk can lay down on the paper to be traced by an adult. Larger guests can stand in funny positions in front of a flashlight. Another guest can trace their shadow onto kraft paper taped to a door or wall.

The tracing can be loose and gestural. Your guests should be encouraged to strike a pose that will be interesting to embellish.

Hand out crayons, stickers and water-washable markers. Guests can add the details of clothing, jewelry and make-believe adornments like crowns, speech bubbles, wings, tails and hats, etc.

Be sure to snap photos of the trace portraits and their subjects. The youngest attendees can smile and reminisce over your fun party when they’re older.

tracing shadows in the sunshine with little ones as a craft project or art activity
If you’ve got nice weather and a sidewalk or a driveway at your gathering, use big chalk to trace the shadow outline of each of your guests holding hands in a long line of family love.
rolls of kraft paper are perfect for life-sized trace portraits, either traced from shadows, or around people laying in fun positions on the paper.
This roll of kraft paper is long enough to accommodate silhouette traces for kids and adults, so everyone at your gathering can be copied paper-doll style, and filled in with humorous details.

Art Supplies for Life Sized Trace Portraits

a watercolor portrait of a girl at a table next to a window and a bouquet of carnations
Girl with Carnations – watercolor on paper (sold)

Art Activities Connect People

Parties are fun, and holiday gatherings often bring people together after long periods of “too busy to visit”. Bridging that gap in time can be facilitated with a smidgeon of supply-gathering and skosh of encouragement.

You don’t have to be the Martha Stewart of hostessing. Especially if there are kids attending your gathering.

Put a box of art supplies on a table, speak a few lines of direction, and watch the fun begin.

Adults should take some queues from children on being creative. It’s about the fun during the making, and not so much about the results or the accolades, right?

I hope you inject a little art-fun at your next gathering of friends and family. If you’re not hosting, ask your host/hostess if you can bring supplies needed to arrange one of these fun group-art activities. Or, forward this post to them.

Either way, I’m sending hearty wishes for sputtered giggles, and art-infused memory making at your next, festive gathering of friends and family.

Thanks for stopping in, and I’ll see you in the next post –


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Have a ginger bread house kit available for little folks attending your holiday party. Image shows an adult and two littles assembling a ginger bread house.
If you’ve got little ones at the table who don’t want to draw grownups, having a gingerbread house kit to assemble is always fun too. (If you bake, here’s a ginger bread house cookie cutter set to have the parts ready to build, home made. ?)
Spend More Time with your Art Supplies
Click the puppy for a free, online mini course with six tips to help you make more art.

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