12 Games for Christmas

1. Bad Present Ninja*

Play this from the early morning till late in the evening.

This game takes a little preparation. Take a small but ultimately pointless item that no one would really want. Wrap this up in as many layers of wrapping paper you can be bothered to, just like you were preparing a prize for pass-the-parcel.

The person who wrapped the present is currently ‘it’.

The player who is ‘it’ plays their turn by secretly putting the parcel somewhere that clearly belongs to another player, i.e. in their pocket, at their space at the dinner table, on their seat when they leave the room for the toilet, in their stack of Christmas presents.

If they do not spot you putting it there, they are now ‘it’. Once they find the present, they remove a layer of wrapping and must place it in a space belonging to another player.

If they do spot you placing it, you have to unwrap another layer yourself and you remain ‘it’.

The loser is determined by the person who unwraps the last layer, or the person who is ‘it’ at the end of the agreed game time. I advise a long play time, maybe all of Christmas day.


2. Shut that Door – Crimbo Bingo

Play throughout the day, and possible for a bit longer.

Each player requires a used advent calendar with all the doors open. When any other player says a number of an open door you can close that door. Use any tricks you can think of to get players to say numbers, and do it when other players are not about to get an advantage.

Once you have closed all the doors of your advent calendar you declare yourself the winner by shouting ‘Crimbo Bingo’.


3. Average Christmas Card

Play whilst you’re waiting for your Christmas Dinner to be cooked.

Get some used Christmas cards, each player takes a card and writes a number between 1 and 100 inside it without showing anyone else.

Starting with the oldest player and moving clockwise players each take a turn.

On your turn if you have not already held, you can:

  • Swap your card with another player (who has not held).
  • Or hold (keeping this card till the end of the round).

The round continues until all players but one are held. Take out a calculator or ask your maths savvy friend to add all the numbers written in the cards and divide that total by the number of players. The person with the number written in their card that is closest to this average value wins. The winning player adds points equal to the number written in their card to their score.

Cross out the current number in each card, and play again (selecting a new starting player) keeping track of the total scores.


4. Table Sprout Splat

Play this after Christmas Dinner whilst someone else is washing up.

Gather round the dinning table once all the plates have been cleared, take one remaining sprout per player if you do not think you will have enough make sure to cook more.

Place the sprout in front of you and place one hand on the table, you are not allowed to move this hand. With your remaining hand you must simultaneously protect your sprout whilst trying to squash the other players’ sprouts.

You win if you are the last player with a sprout intact.


5. Tinsel Town Showdown

Play this when you don’t like the Christmas present you’ve just opened.

A game for two players wearing Christmas jumpers and with long pieces of tinsel. Each player should feed their piece of tinsel up one sleeve of their jumper and down the other sleeve in such a way that most of the length tinsel is in one hand and just a small length of tinsel is in the other hand. Starting back-to-back the players wait until the adjudicator shouts, ‘Tinsel Town Showdown’ then they take three steps, turn and draw all the tinsel through the jumper using only the hand with the short length of tinsel in. The first player to draw the entire length of tinsel through their jumper swing it round their head wins.


6. Rip Wrapping Paper

Play this after you have opened all your Christmas presents.

Once you have finished opening all your presents gather the wrapping paper and cut the paper into pieces measuring approximately 3×30 cms, so there is enough pieces that everyone has as many pieces as there are players minus one.

  • 2 players, 1 pieces each, 2 pieces total
  • 3 players, 2 pieces each, 6 pieces in total
  • 4 players, 3 pieces each, 12 pieces in total
  • 5 players, 4 pieces each, 20 pieces in total
  • 6 players, 5 pieces each, 30 pieces in total

The tallest player goes first. On your turn, all other players should rip one of their pieces of paper in two, without folding the paper (or using any other technique) to find the middle. Now you pick one of their pieces for yourself without directly comparing them and they will keep the other for themselves. You are aiming for the longest piece.

Once everyone has had a turn, line all your torn pieces of paper up into one long length and compare it with the other players’, the player with the longest length wins.


7. You’re a Cracker

Play this before you pull your crackers, otherwise you can not play.

Clear as much space in a room as possible, each player take a cracker, close their eyes and slowly move round the room. The aim of the game is to pull your cracker without being caught, whilst trying to catch other players pulling their cracker.

At any point you may pull your cracker. When you here someone pull a cracker you can try to guess who it is by stating, ‘[Insert name] you’re a cracker’. Only the first accusation per cracker pull counts.

  • If your accusation is correct the caught player must respond ‘You’ve caught me’, pass their pulled cracker to you and is out the game.
  • If your accusation is false the accused player must respond ‘That’s a lie’, nothing else happens.

Out of the remaining players, the player with the most claimed crackers at the end of the game wins.


8. A Better Joke

Play this once you’ve pulled your crackers.

Instead of reading out your jokes in the usual manner, take it in turns to only read the set-up for the joke. Each other player then suggests a punch line for the joke. The reader of the joke determines their favourite answer (not necessarily the correct answer) and gives them the paper with the full joke written on it as a reward. Play passes to the left.

Do not share the real answers with anyone else who is playing, leave them guessing.


 9. A Swingers Party for Hats

Play this once you’ve realised you’ve eaten too much and should be more active.

All the players get in to teams of two, make sure you have a Christmas cracker party hat each, and that they are distinguishable from each other (colour, or mark them).

With your hands in your pockets, or tucked into your waistband, attempt to remove each others hat without ripping it before the other teams do so. If your team finish first you both win.

If you find this too easy, try this time to swap hats with each other in the quickest time.


10. Empty Bottles Full of Music

Play this after you’ve had a little dutch-courage.

See all those empty bottles you have laying around, get one of them each or if necessary share. Look at the back of a Christmas Compilation Album and take it in turns to recreate one of the songs on the back of it using only the bottle. Get a point if you guess correctly and get a point for each person who guesses yours correctly.


11. Shhhhh the Film is About to Start

Play whilst watching Christmas films.

The person holding the remote control is the current player. As soon as the adverts start the current player presses mute and closes their eyes. When they feel is most appropriate they can un-mute the TV and open their eyes, the closer to the film starting again the better.

  • -2 points for each whole advert that remains.
  • -1 point for part of an advert that must be watched.
  • +1 point if you un-mute on the sponsorship advert.
  • +5 points for the perfect un-mute.
  • -10 if the film starts again & you get shouted at to un-mute the tv.

After your turn pass the remote to the left. Highest score is the winner.


12. Chocolates are for Stacking not Eating

Play this in the evening, just before you think you’ll fancy a chocolate.

Place a tin of wrapped chocolates where everyone can reach them. Each player gets one of each chocolate type and puts them in a pile near to them.

On your turn, pick a chocolate from your pile, and add it to your stack.

Each player must then take the matching chocolate from their pile and place it on their stack.

Only the first chocolate you place in the stack can touch the table.

Once you have placed a chocolate you can not move it again.

If your stack falls over at any point eat the chocolate that you were placing or the last one placed. In future games when someone places a chocolate you do not have, instead of adding to your stack you must say, ‘Sorry, I’ve been a naughty’.


*Bad Present Ninja came from a discussion with some of my second year game design students, so they deserve a little mention here, and a big bit of thanks.


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