Category | Icebreakers

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Game Description
This game is based on the familiar English idiom to be “left holding the bag.” “Left holding the bag” refers to a situation when a person is abandoned by others involved so that they bear the blame or responsibility. Example: Everyone rushed home after the party left the room in a mess so the youth leader was “left holding the bag”. The phrase is a variation of one which dates back to about 1600 — to “give one the bag (to hold)” in which a person was left with an empty bag while others took all the valuable contents.

Game Materials

  • A bag (You can use just about any bag for this but the game is more fun if it is a cloth bag that makes very little sound when dropped.)
  • You’ll also need solid chairs for everyone as things usually get a little wild with youth diving for chairs. There should be one less chair than the number of participants.


Game Preparation

  • All the youth are seated in a circle and one youth stands in the middle holding a bag.
  • Safety Tip: Place the chairs in a tight circle with no gaps or you might have some youth miss the chairs and end up on the floor!


Game Play

  • Select one youth to be in the center of the circle, “Holding the bag”.
  • The youth in the middle of the circle must then walk around the circle and take the hand of another seated youth. (If you have an almost equal mix of girls and guys you can ask them to grab the hand of someone of the opposite sex.)
  • That person then leaves his/her chair and takes the hand of another youth and so on.
  • This continues until the first youth drops the bag and everyone runs to a seat.
  • The youth left without a seat picks up the bag and the game begins again.


Play a few rounds and then add some items to the bag:

  • Slips of paper, each with icebreaker styled questions like: “what is your Favorite Ice-cream? Most embarrassing moment? Happiest memory? Best vacation? Favorite movie? Favorite book?” etc.
  • Slips of paper with a forfeit on each one. You can find examples of forfeits here: Game Forfeits
  • Slips of paper with review questions from a previous lesson.
  • Slips of paper with personal questions to introduce the topic of the next lesson.
  • Charades that youth will need to act out for the rest of the youth to guess. (Can give points and have girls vs guys teams for the guessing)
  • Items of clothing in the bag (pillowcase) – youth must pull something out and wear it.


Take it to the Next Level

  • In real life, have you ever been left “holding the bag?” What happened?
  • What feelings might a person have when they are forced to take the blame for someone else’s actions?
  • Are there times when we let others take the blame for things we have done?
  • Was Jesus “left holding the bag” when the disciples abandoned him at his arrest? Is it the same thing? Why or why not?


While we have to take responsibility for our own sins, Jesus wants to take the blame – He has stood in our place to take the punishment for us. There may still be consequences, but through His death on the cross we receive God’s forgiveness. He took the punishment for us!


Get Icebreakers ebookIcebreakers Ahead: Take It To the Next Level

This 170 page resource not only provides 52 of the world’s most popular group icebreaker activities and games, but also includes lesson ideas and discussion questions to smoothly transition into conversations about the issues common to most groups.

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