As well as carefully planning Christmas food, decorations and presents, it’s useful to have some ideas up your sleeve to keep the kids amused inside during the festivities, when daylight hours are short and the house is full. Here are some ideas for festive games to keep those Christmas spirits up.
What’s in the Christmas stocking?
A pen and paper for each player; a Christmas stocking or large sock filled with at least fifteen small objects (such as holly, a tree decoration, a tangerine, a pine cone) tied with a ribbon. Don’t let anyone see what these objects are!
How to play: The stocking is passed to the first player who feels around the outside of it trying to guess what is inside. The stocking is then passed on to the next player. Once the first player has passed it on they write down everything they’ve guessed. The next player does the same and passes the stocking on before writing down their guesses. Continue until all players have felt the stocking and written down what they think the stocking contains. Collect all the pieces of paper. Open up the Christmas stocking and reveal the items one at a time to the players. Read out each of the players’ guesses (many are sure to be funny). The player who guesses the most items correctly is the winner.
Father Christmas’ cat
This is a seasonal variation on a game called The Vicar’s Cat. It’s a word game for all ages which has been around since Elizabethan times, and one that children will particularly enjoy.
How to play: Each player in turn must create a sentence based on a letter of the alphabet. The basic sentence is “Father Christmas’ cat is ____, and its name is ____.” For the letter A, the first player might say, “Father Christmas’ cat is amazing, and its name is Alice”. After each player has made a sentence based on A, the next round moves to the letter B, and so on. Can the group get to Z?!
Tip: You can make the game more complicated by starting a new letter with each player and insisting that each new player recites the whole list so far. So, player three would have to say: “Father Christmas’ cat is amazing and its name is Alice; Father Christmas’ cat is bonkers and its name is Bob” before coming up with an example for the letter ‘C’.
The Chocolate Game
You will need a large bar of chocolate hardened in the fridge beforehand; a dice; a knife and fork; a hat, scarf and some thick gloves.
How to play: Let players take it in turns to try for a six. As soon as a six is thrown, that player has to put on the gloves, hat and scarf and try to cut the chocolate. Players can eat any chocolate they manage to cut. Meanwhile, the dice remains in play so the next six could be thrown at any time. When a six is thrown again the person trying to cut the chocolate must quickly remove the hat, scarf and gloves and pass them (along with the knife and fork) to the person who got the six.
Tip: For very small children, play with chocolate buttons which they have to try and pick up whilst wearing the gloves.
A festive family favourite.
How to play: Each person must write the names of ten Christmas-related things (these can be objects, characters, songs, books or films) fold them and put them into a large bowl. Divide the group into two teams, or if fewer than four, play individually to the whole group.One player from one team picks a piece of paper from the bowl without showing anyone. They then act out the word on the piece of paper, without speaking at all. The rest of the team has a minute to guess the word. If they guess correctly within this time they earn a point. Then the turn passes to the other team, and alternates until the bowl is empty. Whichever team has the most correct answers wins.
For adults and little ones who prefer to go and find a corner with a bit of peace and quiet, why not have a jigsaw or two to hand, depicting a snowy scene or the Nativity? A larger, more challenging puzzle will be fun for young and old to try together.
As well as board games, packs of cards are also handy to have in the cupboard, for games of Old Maid, Pairs, or an energetic round of Snap!
New Year Games for kids
This is a good ice breaker game.
How to play: As each guest arrives they pull out a celebrity name from a hat but don’t look at it. You stick the name on their back. Then each guest has to ask others questions to try and work out who they are.
True or false
How to play: Write the names of each guest at the party on a piece of paper. Next to each name write several different statements that can be true or false: e.g. Tom’s birthday is on April Fools Day, Sam has swum with dolphins, Lily is allergic to strawberries. Photocopy and give each person the paper. Next to each statement each guest must either write “true” or “false”. The person who answers the most statements correctly wins a prize. Feel free to make the false ones pretty outrageous.
Silly Sausages game
This is a quick game that is sure to get everyone in the party spirit.
How to play: Have an adult asking the children questions such as “How long till midnight?” “What did you do for Christmas?” “What was your favourite present?” The only conditions to the game are that the answer always has to be “sausages” and no one is allowed to laugh. Dropping in a question like ‘What’s the time?” or “What time is your mum picking you up?” might trick them into not answering “sausages”.
How to play: Get several duplicate copies of a newspaper. Prepare a series of questions, relating to the contents of the paper. Divide the children into teams of about three or four. Ask the questions one at a time – the first team to provide the answer wins a point, the team with most points at the end is the overall winner.