So, you’ve gone through the greetings, checked to see if Santa's been, sat through an epic lunch and now just want to sit back and relax.
Then it starts! The sounds of cupboardS rarely opened, being rummaged through. Suddenly the box gets placed on the table and you look down to see a copy of one of the perennial favourites waiting to be played…. Again.
Now we are not saying these can’t be fun but I think its fair to say that some of the usual games played around this time take a fair old while to play and don’t always end in the spirit in which they were begun. If they ever end at all!.
How about some alternatives that don’t take anywhere near as long? Here are a few suggestions that are both fun and light.
Note. All these games are available in our relaunced online store and in return for such a shameless plug, you'll find a discount you can use for a limited time at the end of this article! - Just click on a game to find more info in the store. Merry Xmas!
So, in no particular order, here goes!....
A new game that challenges players to guess what each other is thinking. Choose either one or two words to describe three of the cards on the table. Every other player has to select in secret the words they think you are trying to describe. Its easy to play but more difficult to get good at. Plays three to six players too.
For example, i might use the word trash to describe these three cards in front of me ‘X-Factor’, ‘Bins’ and ‘Politicians’, but thats a personal choice!
At UK Games Expo this year I played in a game where a round of Trix looked like this…
… and the clue given was… ‘Luther’
Can you spot which 3 words we had to guess they were thinking of? - Great clue. (Feel free to answer in the comments below!). I got the three words and the clue-giver got double points for making it happen with only one word.
See Trix in our online store here...
Ideal for xmas, this involves the players wearing a headband in which they put a feather, without looking at it (otherwise known as ‘looking a bit daft’) but don’t worry, it gets a bit more strategic from here on in!
Each feather has a number on it and once everyone is ready you starting bidding. Each bid must increase and be less than all of the numbers on the feathers added together. But if the next person thinks you have gone to high they can shout Coyote and challenge your bid… with the loser receiving a tomahawk to the head. (Yes they simply slot in the headband and it’s not an attack with a lethal weapon and yes they are made of card but still - papercuts!).
Bluffing is a key part of this fun game which will have people laughing out loud. A great example of a game that, in schools, teachers will often explain carefully, expecting the children to struggle. Only to find they keep losing!
See Coyote in our online store here...
This is a game of fast and furious descriptions, again very simple rules and crucially accessible and challenging to all ages.
Each player is dealt a hand of cards, on which are some very unusual pictures. A word is chosen to start with and from then on each following card must be played by shouting a word to describe something on that card, that begins with the last letter of the previous description. With no turn taking this fast paced game is both fun and tricky.
The imagination some people exhibit while playing this is quite an eye-opener, as you will see.
See Last Letter in our online store here...
Timeline - Science & Discoveries
This is a perfect party game, dividing the players into two teams. Each team is dealt a series of cards, showing famous scientific discoveries. Definitely aimed at a teenager+ age range, though a great way to introduce ideas to younger children who often love trying to figure out what came first too.
All each team has to do is work out where each of their cards come in the timeline. Choose your card, place it in then flip it over to see if you’re right. A game that makes for lots of interesting debate, we guarantee this will make you go ‘Really???’
I remember having a the King Kong movie card (original version!) in my hand and not being quite sure where it went until someone played the Empire State Building card into the timeline… for some reason it became quite obvious which one followed the other and similar logics can be applied in all sorts of ways!
You can get Timeline games to cover 5 different themes now, and they can all be put together into one big game too. As well as Science and Discoveries there is Music & Cinema, Historical Events, Inventions and General Interest.
This game of bluffing and ‘poker-face’ pulling has just had a face-lift with fabulous new artwork. This one definitely wasn’t designed with young children in mind but I’ve had 9-11 yr olds playing it and loving it as much as the teenagers and adults!
Up to 6 players take it in turns to play one of their 3 rose cards, or their skull card, face down in front of them or start a bid. Whoever bids the highest has to turn over that number of cards from those played face down on the table by everyone during the round, with the aim being not to find a skull.
Of course there is a twist. If you are revealing cards, you MUST turn over your cards first as part of your bid. This means if you played a skull card and then raised the bid in the hope of enticing someone into finding your skull, but you ended up having to reveal, you can look very silly!
The rules are very easy but winning can be tricky. Who's lying and who can you trust? One of those games that will make you look at people a little differently afterwards.
See Skull in our online store here...
This is when underhandedness and a bit of arguing can actually be great fun! Whilst this might cause a few disagreements over xmas this game is a fantastic diversion if you have several people available to play as it works best with between 5 and 10 players.
Playing gnomes hunting hidden gold the aim is to make a series of pathways to the hidden gold location. However whilst at least half of you are good gnomes there could be one or more saboteurs amongst you. Their job, stop everyone else getting to the gold.
Nobody knows which role anyone was given at the beginning of the game apart from their own, so you good or bad, you’re still never quite sure who is on your team and who to work with. The discursive (read shouty / accusatory!) element of the game is where the fun is and will definitely result in the lines ‘Thats just what a saboteur would do’, and, ‘Hold on - I’M not a saboteur!’ being uttered many, many times!
See Saboteur in our online store here...
An incredibly simple word game this card flipping game challenges players to be first to shout out the hidden word.
Each card has 3 different colour rings, each of which has a word written in a circle around it. The colour on the back of the previous card is revealed as it is flipped, and this tells evertone which coloured ring to look at on the next one as they race to find the word.
The fact that every letter in the word is there and in the right order too, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was easy, but spotting where it starts and which way to go can be harder than you think. Get it right - get the card, most cards wins.
Great game - very quick - and beware of people shouting strange noises in the aim of guessing correctly!
See Word A Round in our online store here...
This versatile game can be played many ways, each of which is easy but devious. A simple exercise in spotting matching objects, the game is played without turns, resulting in fast and furious gameplay. Suitable for a wide range of ages some of the variants get really mean and will surprise you at just how tricky they can get. One that kids will often beat the adults at!
Dobble has become very popular, very quickly the world over and the fact that it can be easily transported and played just about anywhere has helped it become a best-seller and a firm family favourite.
See Dobble in our online store here...
Written by a good friend of Imagination Gaming and the designer of the classic Mijnlieff, Dodekka is a risk taking game this numbers based game is all about collecting cards of the same colour whilst avoiding the others.
Themed around the five elements of ancient Greece, the objective is to achieve a hand of cards in which the amount by which your strongest element dominates the others you have collected is superior to everyone elses.
Getting hold of those cards however can be tricky and it’s a combination of skill and luck that will get you there in the end. Some very simple and clever dilemmas when choosing what to do make this a very smart little game indeed - and one I am still yet to prove myself at too!
See Dodekka in our online store here...
This terrific party game is about making up wonderful new objects and selling them to another player. With your hand of six cards, each of which has a word on it, you are tasked with combining at least two of these to make a new object, then selling this object to the player whose turn it is.
The fun bit is that this player will be under another persona while choosing, for example they might be a caveman, a vampire or a fireman. What could you think-up to sell to them??
Obviously the more relevant you can make the object you are selling to the character buying, the better chance you have of selling your wares. All sales are done openly and your ability to describe your new invention and it’s qualities quickly and charismatically will be key to winning the buyers favour, and the points.
Whoever manages to sell their object becomes the buyer for the next round and most ‘sales’ wins.
This can obviously result in some very devious attempts at one-up-man-ship while bringing out the imagination in all ages!
See Snake Oil in our online store here...
That's your 10 games for this year - but what else...?!
This small selection will keep the family going for a while, with all of them pretty quick to play if required, but with tons of replay value to keep you coming back, and different every time. Crucially all of them having laugh out loud moments.
This is just a small glimpse into a world of family games that we use on a daily basis for fun, challenge, competition and education. We are lucky enough to have hundreds of games like this available to play at our events and of course in our venue at the iQ Games Centre in Huddersfield.
As mentioned earlier, we have purposely picked games that are already available in our new online store so that you can click through and take a closer look for more information on any that might appeal to you. Obviously you don’t have to... but as an extra christmas bonus you can use the code 'xmas14' to get 10% off these and any games in the Family & Education collection until 31st December 2014. We’d just hate to tease you with a game that sounded great but then you couldn’t get hold of! We have only recently relaunched online store, so there is a lot more to come, we have a massive range to get back online but these got there first because we think they’re great and use them ourselves regularly
Whatever you are playing this Christmas we'd love to hear about it and most of all we hope you have a great time and wish you all a very Merry Christmas 2014!
Do you have some favourites not listed here or have you played some of these already? Let us know your thoughts and tell us what you think. We look forward to hearing from you