Do people sit around drumming their fingers at your Christmas parties?
Give them something to remember at this year’s get-together! Create a home made Christmas Game that everyone can enjoy.
All you have to do is brainstorm, design, and present! This article will help you through the steps.
What Type of Game?
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You should have a holiday theme. Your guests will already be in a festive mood, so you can capitalize on that. Your game should be based on one of the classic party games. Examples include:
- Charades – Christmas books, Christmas movies, Christmas songs
- Trivia – two teams try to answer questions about Christmas
- Word Games – pass out pencil and paper and play Categories
- Singing Games – do The Twelve Days of Christmas
- Parlor Games – sit around the table, pass ornaments from hand to hand, according to your rules
What Kind Of Crowd?
The best way to figure out what type of game to make is to think about your guests. Do they love to sing? Are they brainy trivia-lovers? Are they more interested in traditional celebrations? You want to tailor your game to the general temperament of the gathering.
Who Will Play?
Everyone doesn’t have to play. However, if you keep the game light, you’ll attract more players. If there will be many children present, make sure your game involves and engages them.
When to Play?
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If you’ll be serving dinner, play after everyone has eaten. Perhaps you could introduce the game before desserts are served. This is especially good if you need everyone to be around the table.
Don’t start too early, even if dinner is not part of your party. Give your guests time to relax, talk and enjoy the atmosphere.
If you’ve done this before, your guests may be anticipating this year’s excitement. Don’t torture them, get things rolling as soon as the time is right.
Things To Avoid
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Don’t try to cram everything you can think of into your game. My worst attempt was a combination of arcane puzzles, trivia, hidden clues and mystery Christmas card messages. The brainy folks tried to muddle through, the kids were bored and the older guests simply refused to participate. Keep it simple.
Also, even if your crowd is a hard-drinking bunch, don’t exacerbate that with a drinking game. I’m just saying. It sort of goes against the spirit of the holiday (there goes the obligatory pun, sorry!)
A good Christmas game will leave you and your guests feeling refreshed, joyful and full of good cheer. This means you can forget about fierce competition, super-difficult tasks and child-unfriendly games. It also means that you should be a little bit silly. My most successful party game was called “Who Kicked Rudolph”. Players played hot potato with a handful of home made cards and sang verses from The Twelve Days of Christmas when they got “stuck” with a particular card. It made no sense, but we had a roaring good time!
Courtesy Mitchell Allen
If you go for trivia, try to create questions that everyone has a chance to answer. In other words, make some kiddie questions, some general-knowledge questions and some questions for the “old-timers.” For a tradition-observing gathering, create categories relevant to the songs, stories and messages that are meaningful to your group.
A singing game should evoke merriment, but not embarrassment. Some people are shy about singing in front of others, so make sure they can be allowed to recite the lyrics if they prefer. Name that tune is one idea that by-passes individual or group singing in favor of mental recall. If you have a way to create a CD or tape with pauses between songs, you can make a great party game with very little preparation beyond recording the tracks and jotting down your answer key.
Photo by ^@^ina
Although I cautioned you against arcane puzzles, there is no reason that you can’t design a multiple-level puzzle adventure to print out for everyone to enjoy.
One of my projects was based on the Twelve Days of Christmas (you should be noticing a trend, here.) I made up a simple puzzle based on each day. One day was a logic puzzle. Another day was a matching puzzle. A third day was a counting puzzle. These puzzles were frivolous and easily recognized as classic puzzles. That made them fun for everyone.
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Home made means just that. Don’t go overboard with props. Look around the house for unused decorations, old ribbons and the like. Trust me, once people start playing, they won’t care that the scrap paper has a coffee mug ring on it! Of course, if your game requires lots of writing, do purchase supplies if you don’t have enough on hand.
On the other hand, you may find inspiration from the materials at hand. If a scavenger hunt appeals to you, consider creating a list of items based on the holiday:
- Piece of gift-wrap with a snowman
- Blue tissue paper
- Christmas card from Hallmark
- Two different items from the nut dish
An answer key is the one item you must have, depending on the type of game you create. The last thing you want to happen is for an argument to erupt over the correct answer. Obviously, you need an answer key for trivia games. A printout of lyrics may be a sanity-saver for your song game. Finally, a list of all the hiding places can help you give clues to younger players in a scavenger hunt.
By the time you’ve designed your game, you may have a picture in your head of how it will proceed. Do yourself a favor and write down exactly where everything goes, including the players. During the excitement of the party, you’re bound to forget a few minor details that could affect the game.
Photo by Todd Huffman
Part of the setup is writing the rules. Make sure they are as clear as possible. If you have family members who will assist you, get them to review the rules. Fix any confusing or conflicting instructions.
If you have materials, keep them all in a special box until the day of your party. Give yourself plenty of time to lay out the materials, especially if you’re doing a scavenger hunt. Go over the rules with your helpers and assign setup chores to each assistant. Double-check that the answer key can be reached easily. Finally, put the rules back in the box until the guests are ready to play.
Photo by KitAy
Finally, it is time to unleash your game. Do it with flair, but don’t go over the top. It’s best to casually ask if folks would like to play a game. If the response is not what you expected, don’t worry. I’ll bet there is an after-party you can drag it to! The point is, don’t force the game on your guests. If the party is large enough that a small group can break off and play without damping the festivities then go for it!