In my family, like many on Christmas day, it is pretty much tradition to whip some games out in the evening. After many years of family feuds over Monopoly (no it is not okay to steal from your seven-year-old nephew when he has gone to the toilet) and when Scrabble is looking a bit too much like my English degree (struggling to spell and quickly falling behind), here are a few alternative Christmas games to spice things up.
Cards Against Humanity
Because Christmas is a time where portion control does not exist and sobriety is disregarded with a ‘f**k it, it’s Christmas’, there is a high chance that a fair few people have been on the drink. That bucks fizz in the morning, progressing to wine at lunch and dinner, and now some after-dinner cocktails or some whiskey as we are starting to whip out the evening entertainment. By that, I mean some good old, not so family friendly games. Cards Against Humanity anyone? Now, hear me out. Maybe it is not the most PC game out there, but what is more fun than watching prim and proper Auntie Sarah making jokes about BDSM and bleached arseholes? Perhaps it is not one for when your little cousins are up, but once they have all settled down, it is a sure fire way to have a good night and get some not-so-flattering stories to tell everyone at the next family gathering.
Another game that is a lot more entertaining after a few drinks, or under the glowing haze of Christmas when you can get away with far more than you ever normally would, is Psych. Maybe you have played it at pre-drinks before, or with your mates, but I can guarantee that once you have hit eighteen, playing games like this with your family are ten times more entertaining. The game is an app, so as long as your relatives all have smart phones (or partner up with someone who does) you are ready to proceed. Everyone joins a game and questions come up, like “What is Vanessa hiding?” or “What is Charlie’s superpower?”. Everyone, including the person the question is about, secretly come up with an answer and submit it, and then everyone chooses their favourite answer. The winner is the person with the most chosen answers after X amount of rounds. The aim of the game is to get people to choose your answer, so a sense of humour and some light-heartedness are necessary. I tend to find this can easily be coaxed out of most people with a few drinks or some late-night hilarity.
If you are like me, fiercely competitive but have the basic games understanding of a child, when people whip out a pack of cards it all gets a bit intimidating. In times like this, Shithead is a great option. Shithead is a fairly straight forward card game, that does not require much skill and the aim is to get rid of all your cards, with the loser being the titular ‘shithead’. If you are a family who pop down to the pub during Christmas, make the shithead buy the next round of drinks, or tally up who loses the most and put them in charge of making the next day’s hangover breakfast. Even if you are not into drinking, or you are playing with kids, ‘poo head’ is definitely going to cause some giggles, and if competition is not enough to get people riled up, let everyone except the ‘poo head’ have a Celebration from the obligatory Christmas chocolate tin. If you are a bit more advanced in card games than me, poker with chocolate coins can also be a lot of fun, especially with younger members of the family. If you get your children/siblings/cousins good at poker, maybe they could bring home some bigger, less edible dollars when they are older. Just kidding.
When I told my housemate I was writing this article, she explained to me a cruel – and yet very funny – alternative Christmas game she plays every year with her family that definitely deserves a mention. Bitch Bingo. Everyone brings a gift, wrapped, so no one knows what it is. A Poundland candle could be in a massive wrapped shoebox and a £20 Topshop voucher in a little box. They all go in the middle and then you play bingo. Whenever someone completes a line, they get to choose a gift from the pile. The game continues, but once all of the presents have been taken, you can start stealing them. In my housemate’s words, “it is really funny when we all take them off our little cousins to teach them a lesson.” It sound like a delight right? When all the numbers have been called out, the game ends and you get all the gifts you collected (if you have any left). This sounds like a great way to spend an evening, as well as bring in a bit of gift giving with a twist. And let us be honest, what is Christmas without a bit of family drama after you have taken a gift off someone that turned out to be that limited edition gin they were desperate for!
A slightly less savage way to play this, to make sure everyone gets a prize, is to play it more like Secret Santa, where there are cost boundaries. Everyone brings a gift, and everyone opens the present they choose once they get their first line in bingo. If you then proceed to get more lines in bingo, you can choose to stick with your gift, switch it with an unopened one that is left in the middle and put your open one back into the middle, or choose to switch with someone else’s gift. You will know what everyone’s gifts are because they will have to open them when they get them, so if you see one you really want in your mum’s hands, and you get a line, you can steal hers and pass over the less desired present. Again, the game runs until all the numbers have been called, but at least this time you all leave with something – although maybe not the something you were hoping for!
Ultimately, playing games at Christmas is a way to connect with your loved ones and those around you and face it, not many of us play games with others like this many times during the year, so if you have a free evening, why not spend it celebrating with one of these games? There is nothing like a bit of competition to make you regret spending so much time in close proximity to your relatives!