The family that plays together stays together.
With that in mind, here’s our selection of well tried and tested family party games, perfect for your festive gathering. They can cause a great deal of hilarity and don’t cost a penny to play!
Particularly good for larger groups, these games have been part of my life, some for as long as I can remember. Most of them can be simplified to include younger children too.
If you have some great family party games you’d like to share, then we’d love to hear them. Why not get in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter?
1 The Name Game
Hilarity for all ages, this one is a must at any gathering, not just at Christmas. One person (the umpire) proposes a subject – it can be literally anything. We have had everything from Disney Characters to obscure subjects such as ’emotions’! The umpire leaves the room and each member goes out in turn to give his/her answer. The umpire writes them down and, when everybody has given their answer, returns to the room and reads out the answers in a random order. He may do this a couple of times if there are a lot of participants as the idea is to try and remember all the answers. Starting with the youngest (or anyone really), he/she picks one of the answers they remember and tries to match it to someone – e.g. Auntie Deb, are you ‘Aladdin’? If guessed incorrectly, the person asked then tries to guess e.g. Max, are you ‘Mary Poppins’? and so on until everyone but the winner is guessed. As a correct guess is made, the person sussed out joins the person who guessed him/her to join forces to guess the next and so on. They can confer on any names they still remember plus their own name if not already guessed. Usually at least one name is forgotten by everyone except the sneaky person who said it and he/she is the winner! Our family is incredibly competitive and will not allow the umpire to reread the names once the game has started, but the choice is yours ….
2 The Dictionary Game
Someone begins by choosing an obscure word from the dictionary. They will be the umpire for this round. He/she reads out their word of choice and everyone writes down their best definition on a piece of paper. The definition can be as imaginative or bizarre as you like (but the aim is for people to believe you)! Everyone pops their suggestions into a hat. At the same time the umpire writes down the actual definition and throws that into the hat too. When all the entries are complete the umpire reads them out. Everyone in turn votes for what they think is the real definition. You get one point if you vote for the actual definition and one point for everyone who votes for your version. Keep going until everyone has had a go at being the umpire. Whoever has most points at the end wins. Tip: Let the umpire go through them first so that he/she can decipher each and read fluently. And do not underestimate small children – I have been completely trumped by imaginative 6 year olds on this (especially when the umpire has pre-read and corrected any small errors to grammar etc!)
3 Two Truths and a Lie
Good as an icebreaker and also fun when you think you know someone inside out! Great for when you’re sitting around the table, too full to move. Each player shares three things about themselves. Two of these must be true and one false. Everyone gets the chance to interrogate and grill the speaker in turn to discover how well they can back up their claims. When everyone has had the chance to ask their questions, the group decides together which statement they believe to be the false one. This is the most fun part as everyone struggles to reach a consensus. When a majority decision has been reached, you announce your verdict and discover whether you’ve successfully deciphered fact from fiction. The things I’ve discovered about my family!
This is a fabulous game, but a bit wordy to explain, so bear with me. It’s best for big groups. Each person writes down a name of a famous person or a character on slip of paper (several names per person if a smaller group). The more names you have, the longer the game will be. Fold up the names and put them into a hat or bowl. Divide the players into 2 teams. The game consists of team members guessing the names on the slips of paper throughout three rounds. The team who guesses the most names after the three rounds wins. Here’s how it works.
The first round is describing. Each team in turn sends a player up to the front. A ‘designated timer person’ starts the time – choose a time that works best for you, but about 30 seconds usually works well. As soon as the time starts, the player draws a name from the hat and starts getting his teammates to guess by saying anything except the celebrity’s name, or any part of it. He/she goes through as many names as possible until the time runs out (allow a designated number of passes if playing with younger peeps or inter-generational). Both teams save any correct slips. Keep rotating teams and players until all the slips of paper have been guessed correctly.
Each team counts up their correct names and writes down their total. Then put all the slips of paper back in the hat for round 2!
Round 2 is miming. Just like in round 1, players come to the front, draw the same slips of paper, and try to get their teammates to guess as many names as they can before the time runs out, but this time players can only act. Round 2 should be somewhat easier because everyone’s heard the names once before. Just like in round 1, each team saves their correct guesses (do not put them back Uncle Pete!) and counts up the total at the end. Then, put all the slips back in the hat for the final round.
Round 3 is similar to round 1. Players get their teammates to guess names by talking—but this time are only allowed one word. Guessers have the advantage this round of having heard each name twice before, so memory comes to play as much of a role as guessing does. You might find that a shorter time, like 10 seconds, works better for round 3.
At the end of the round, count up each team’s wins and total up all three rounds. The team with the most correct guesses overall wins.
The game could also work well with movie titles, books, etc. Or you could easily put a themed spin on the game depending on your ages and interests.
Somebody chooses a word and everyone must write a telegram as an acronym of this word. So, if the first word is “Christmas”, then the first word must begin with C, the second with H and so on. To match the telegram style your sentence must contain information in the form of an urgent message. The telegram’s content must also relate to the original word. A notable example is “Please Help I’ve Lost Overall Sense of People’s Happy Yearnings” (PHILOSOPHY).
Award three points for the top telegram in each round, two to the second and one to the third. You will need to establish who gets the points by consensus. At the end of four or five rounds declare a winner.