By Katie Moosbrugger
Growing up in my home, holidays were big family nights. It was a time when grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins (and sometimes friends) came over, and after dinner, we’d play games until all hours. We still try to have holidays like these when we can, and no one ever grows tired – or too old – to play!
My husband, on the other hand, used to always go out on big holiday nights. Once he was old enough, he’d meet up with friends at a local bar or restaurant and they’d pack the place. I know nights like these can be big reunions for college-aged kids, but the idea of leaving a house full of family always sounded strange to me. Then again, my husband is the youngest of 10, so maybe getting out of the house wasn’t such a bad idea!
If you’re looking for some fun family games, I have a bunch listed below. And if you have additional ideas, please share in the comment section!
One of our all-time favorite game to play is Dirty Santa (also sometimes called White Elephant, among other names), where each person contributes a gift (we cap ours at $20) and is given a number. Then we open, swap and steal gifts by taking turns according to our number. I know a lot of you are familiar with this game and there are several variations you can follow. We are now at the point where our children (and nieces and nephews) are all old enough to participate. They love it, and it’s actually a great lesson in gift giving and receiving for kids.
Kristie with TMoM shares a fun “musical chairs” twist on Dirty Santa: If you have a large group of people, have everyone choose a wrapped gift and pass then pass the gifts around in a circle while listening to Christmas carols. When the music stops, whichever gift you are holding is yours!
My Favorite Things
The idea for the game actually originated from Oprah’s popular My Favorite Things show, and it’s a cute way to entertain with friends and family, or as an alternative gift exchange with your bunco, supper club or book club groups. I blogged about the rules for this fun gift exchange idea HERE.
A few years ago we started playing Sequence. I love, love, love this game! As many as 12 people can play this game, and as few as two. And it’s not too tricky to teach young kids to play. Plus they also have variations of the game for younger kids too. (Great Christmas present, hint, hint). You can find it HERE on Amazon.
One game our family has played for years, with our own twist, is Pictionary. We’ve never owned the actual board game; instead we purchase a large pad of drawing paper and come up with our own list of movies, TV shows, and book titles. Our game is a whole lot more challenging than the boxed version. I mean, how would YOU draw “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” or “Moesha”? Those are just two titles I remember being pretty big party stumpers! HERE are other Pictionary-inspired games on Amazon.
Another game we added to our holiday tradition is Skittles. This is a game my husband and I discovered at a New Years Eve party a few years back, and now our kids enjoy it too. It can be kind of tricky for the little ones to do (although an adult can get the spinner started for the child), but it’s a perfect crowd pleaser for anyone ages eight and above! I found this game online at Amazon.
If you like the Pictionary idea, how about a Christmas Carol Pictionary Relay? For this game, team members come up with a list of Christmas Carols their opponents have to guess by drawing the title of the carol. Then once that team identifies the song, they must sing it as a group. Hilarious!
Don’t forget to bring a pack of cards with you! Our new family favorite is Blockhead. Rachel also shares other fun card games for adults and kids alike HERE.
Other Game Ideas
~ Another silly game idea is unwrapping a gift (wrapped in several layers) with oven mitts on. When it’s your turn, you have just seconds (set to a kitchen time) to unwrap the layers before passing the gift off to someone else.
~ If you liked the “Dirty Santa” gift exchange idea, then how about “Dirty Dice”? I found these rules online:
Step1: Everyone brings a wrapped gift and it’s placed in the middle of a room.
Step 2: Once everyone is seated, two dice are passed to each person to roll (a larger group of people can pass two or three pairs of dice). Whoever shakes a double retrieves a prize but can’t open the gift, and so on until all gifts are taken. Everyone who has a gift (some have none, some might have many) opens their gifts for everyone to see.
Step 3: Now the game gets dirty! A timer is set for 15 minutes and the dice keep going around the room to each person and if someone shakes a double they can steal an unwrapped prize from anyone. Every time a double is rolled, a prize gets stolen.
Step 4: When the timer runs out, it’s the end of the game.
If you play this game with young children, you might want to change it up so everyone gets a gift. You can do that by letting people continue to roll doubles in the beginning until everyone claims a gift (and skipping those who already won a gift) – then move on to the stealing phase of the game.
More game ideas can be found HERE. Have you tried any of these? Let us know. Or what are some of your favorite family games?