Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Games - Christmas Edition

First, I want to thank all of my loyal and wonderful readers for their comments. I read them all, even if they are on older posts, and I appreciate each and every word you type. Whether we agree, disagree, or are somewhere in the middle, I am honored by your taking the time to leave your opinions.

Today's topic is near and dear to my heart this time of year - playing games at Christmas. To keep the activity moving, to keep little fights from occurring, and to entertain everyone I set up simple, fun, and Christmas-themed games for my guests. They are for all ages and usually result in a bit of competition and a whole lot of laughter! Adding the incentive of small prizes gets most people instantly on board. Games are especially wonderful when the group is gathered but either it is not opening present time or opening present time is long past.

My first game is a tradition in my family. I read the poem "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore. I own it in many books, but you can always download it off the internet. I, as hostess, read the poem slower than usual because each time I say the word "the" in the poem, the guests at my dinner table have to pass a wrapped gift to the right. When I read the word "a" in the poem, the guests have to pass the wrapped gift to the left. This works with as few as 3-4 people and as many as 20+ if you use a few wrapped gifts. Either randomly select a person to start holding the gift as you commence reading the poem, or allow the youngest/oldest/etc. to start. While I'm reading I over enunciate the words "the" and "a" so my guests know it is time to pass the gift. I also pause to make sure they are doing it properly! You'd be amazed how many people try to hold on to an unknown little surprise! When I read the last line, "and to all a good night", whoever is holding the gift after the word "a" is uttered and the gift is passed for the last time to the left gets to open and keep the prize. I try to find inexpensive yet nice gifts that would be appropriate for young or old and boy or girl. I've wrapped a small box of candy, a flashlight, a book, the poem "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" so my guest can own a copy and play the game at their house, or a deck of cards or other game that anyone would enjoy. Dollar Stores are wonderful places to pick up a few "one size fits all" gifts that can be used as prizes (or stocking stuffers if the games don't all get played).

Another game we play is "Name That Christmas Carol". I read a line from a Christmas song/carol and the 'contestants' have to tell me which song it comes from. I don't sing the lines, I state them which renders the quiz harder than you might imagine. The person with the most correct answers wins a prize. Along the way, once the song is guessed properly, have the group sing the song as much as they can. Instant caroling to add to your festivities! Offering a prize at the end helps keep interest and full participation from your entire group.

For all ages Christmas Bingo is a lot of fun. This game is easiest to play with a store-bought version. Check your local Wal*Mart in the Christmas section where they sell pre-packaged stocking stuffers. You shouldn't have to pay more than $2. After Christmas, if there are any left, pick them up 1/2 price or more off! Stock up for next year! Don't forget to offer prizes for the winner(s) of this game.

Christmas Trivia is quickly becoming my sons' favorite Christmas game. They watch specials, read Christmas classics, and listen to Christmas music all season long with me and now they see that is all paying off. They are becoming experts at the Christmas Trivia games we pick up on sale after season. I ask myriad questions and whoever gets the most answers correct wins ... you guessed it... a prize! My eldest is planning to take home the prize for this game this year! He's been 'studying' all season!

Lastly, I try to include a Christmas Cracker at everyone's place setting either on Christmas Eve or Christmas NIght. These are available widely in stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall's, HomeGoods, and probably many department stores. A box of 6 or 8 is usually how these wrapped cylinders are sold (they look like fancy large Tootsie Rolls). Inside is a paper crown, riddle, joke, or fortune, and some prize/toy which is released once you pull your Cracker apart resulting in a loud 'crack' and an explosion of contents! This is a British tradition that I added to our table twenty years ago. The first Crackers I did for years were homemade. I used the toilet paper cardboards, filled them with treasures - candies, Matchbox cars, jewelry, etc. - wrapped them in gift paper and tied the ends with ribbon. When opened mine didn't 'crack', but they were personalized to the recipient. Those were my favorite, but over time I ran out of ideas and time for my family and now rely on the store-bought Crackers. They are a great way to end a meal. As with all of my holiday purchases, I recommend picking these up in after Christmas sales as they can be quite pricey. I buy many when I see them and hold onto them year after year as nothing inside spoils - I buy the ones without food.

Whatever you play, sing, and enjoy at your Christmas celebration, be sure to try and have a wonderful time. These are the times we remember - wouldn't it be great to have fond memories? Resolve to do your best to be stress-free and not engage in arguments. You know you're right, don't worry if Uncle Bob or Grandma Goosey does.

Tomorrow we "Embrace the Season". Looking forward to hearing from you all and seeing you back here tomorrow!


  1. Dang when I next visit the USA I am gonna make sure I am in NJ around Christmas time :-)

  2. Never a dull moment at the 187 house. I will send my address for any unclaimed prizes... I will pay for the postage.

  3. I'm amazed on how you can keep activities going thru the holidays. You want to adopt a older son?

  4. It would honor and please me to have all 3 of you wonderful gentlemen at my Christmas festivities. The family you choose (as opposed to the family you are 'dealt') is so rewarding - I choose you all!!!