Last Christmas, I got together with my wife’s family. It was a great Christmas. One night, though, someone suggested we play a game, and some of the younger attendees immediately declared, “Cards Against Humanity!”
Now, I like that game. With the right crowd, it can be a blast. This wasn’t it, though. Too many in-laws, too many people being uncomfortable, too many people not feeling like they could play at their highest (er, lowest?) level. A girl who just married into the family looked mortified the entire time, completely unable to play in front of her new mother-in-law. It wasn’t exactly in line with the Christmas spirit.
That wasn’t the right game to play (for that crew; it might be for your family), but there are a million fun games to play at Christmas with the whole family. You can find formal games, informal games, brain-teasers, laugh generators, and everything in between. As long as people are having fun and enjoying each other’s company, it’s a good game.
Our Favorite Games to Play at Christmas
There are two different types of games we want to talk about here. There are games that you can play during Christmas (or any other time of the year!) and specific Christmas games. Let’s start with the first one.
Games You Can Play During Christmas
Any game, at its heart, is about having fun with other people. So, a game doesn’t have to be Christmas-themed to be a good Christmas game. It just has to bring you together. Here are a few ideas, along with ways to jolly it up for the season.
This game is one of our favorite icebreaker and discussion games. You give people a word prompt and they have to talk for one minute about what it means to them. This can take a lot of forms. If you say “BBQ,” they might talk about their favorite food, a particularly memorable BBQ they attended, or maybe about their plans to have everyone over one of these days for a feast.
It’s a great way to get people talking, to see how their minds work, and to learn a little something about them. If you want to add a Christmas twist, have the prompts be things like “favorite gift,” “Santa,” or “Christmas tree.”
With lightning questions, you get a longer prompt and have to answer quickly. These prompts can be opposites (think “chocolate or vanilla” or “Marvel or DC”), quick answers (like “first celebrity crush” and “Can you keep a secret?”) or strange personal ones (i.e. “Do you think people think you’re cool?” or “What sound would you make if you were freezing cold?”). This can get as weird as you’d like. People have to answer right away—minimal thinking!
If you want to Christmas it up a bit, pick questions related to the season. “Real or fake tree,” “Was Rudolph a glory hog,” “egg nog or wassail,” and so forth. Bonus points if anyone actually knows what wassail is.
There are great board games for everyone in the family, and a game night is a way to make sure everyone is involved. A great game selection has something for all ages. Jenga, for instance, is a game that doesn’t get old.
There are hundreds of “brain games” out there now, as well as a lot of games revolving around pop culture and memes. Make sure you aren’t alienating anyone, of course. I think you’d find that even the older crowd will get goofily competitive in Connect 4. I know I do.
Name that Tune
Everyone loves a good game of name that tune, as even current game shows can attest. That’s why it’s fun to put on a playlist and have people (or teams) try to guess a song first. If you want, you can let it keep playing and turn it into a singalong.
I think you can guess how to add some more Christmas spirit. Just get a Christmas playlist, as traditional or eclectic as you want, and see what magical mayhem ensues. At some point, everyone will be singing along, feeling the warmth of the people they love shielding them from the cold nights. And I don’t know what’s more Christmas than that.
Specific Christmas Games
The best Christmas games revolve around presents. Here are two of our favorite classics:
Ah, yes, the beloved, dreaded, fun, maddening, competitive, joyful Yankee swap. It’s a good way to have a riotous good time and maybe dig up old family grudges over who got the best bedroom growing up.
Okay, that’s probably not going to happen. But there’s something about a Yankee swap gift exchange that gets the juices flowing. You can plot which gift to steal and how to make sure you get the one you want. You’ll laughingly shoot daggers when your gift is stolen. In the end, everyone will be crying from laughter.
If you want something where everyone gets gifts and no one gets anything stolen, then go with Secret Santa. This may be the most fun game of them all. Everyone gets a gift they want, from someone who put thought into what to buy. It’s warmhearted and appropriate for people of all ages. To spice things up even more, you can add themes that make it fun for the whole family.
Not to mention, organizing a Secret Santa game is really easy if you use online tools. When you start a Secret Santa through an online generator, you’ll be able to:
- Easily share the Secret Santa rules with everyone involved.
- Shop items from the world’s top online sellers or add unique text-based requests.
- Create wish lists and easily share them with your Secret Santa.
- Buy directly from their list; no need to go to stores.
- Ask anonymous questions if you need to clarify anything.
This way, the game is simple and convenient for everyone, and everyone can get what they want.
It’s a game where everyone wins. We win because everyone plays, together. No matter what your game, no matter the rules, the points, the last square everyone is rolling dice to get to, that’s the real goal: to be together. That’s the only victory any of us ever really need.
Ready to kick off your Secret Santa game? The Elfster Secret Santa generator makes it easy to set up the game. Just register and start a Wish List to begin the festivities! You can also play the game on an iPhone app or Android app.