How to Play Pass the Hat

by William Jackson ; Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Hats (the sillier the better)

  • At least six people

Looking for a new game for your kids to play, something that isn't tag or duck-duck-goose, something that epitomizes good old-fashioned fun? Pass the hat might be just what you're searching for. It's fun and easy. So, let's play!

Have at least six payers, with five of them standing in a circle, a little less than an arm's length apart. They should all be wearing hats, and the sillier the hats are, the better! The sixth person will stand in the middle of the circle. She is the leader. You are now in starting positions.

The leader calls out, "Left," then begins counting, "One, two, three." The players are required to use their left hands to remove the hat of the person on their right and place it on their own heads before the count of three. If a player doesn't have a hat on her head by the three-count, that player is out of the game.

The leader calls out, "Right," then begins counting, "One, two, three!" The players are required to use their right hands to remove the hat of the person on their left and place it on their own heads before the count of three. If a player doesn't have a hat on his or her head by the three-count, that player is out of the game.

If the leader wants to keep the hats moving left, he or she need not shout "Left" each time, but only once, then simply begin a count ("One, two, three!") each time afterwards. Until the leader calls out a direction, the hats should be passed in the direction of the previous call.

The leader begins the counting slowly. As the game progresses, the counting becomes faster and faster, just to make things more exciting. As people fall out of the game, the circle tightens, until there are only two people facing each other. These are the winners!

Tip

  • This game is great with music! The more people, the better.

Tip

  • Be warned--this game is apt to become hysterical!

About the Author

William Jackson has written, reported and edited professionally for more than 10 years. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, high-level government reports, books and online. He holds a master's degree in humanities from Pennsylvania State University.