Fun Games for Holiday Gatherings: No Electronics Required

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games

The holidays are fast approaching. Not sure how that happened so quickly! Nonetheless, here we are. Festive celebrations with family and friends are starting to fill our calendars. It’s often a heartwarming time to socialize and catch up, enjoy some much-deserved relaxation, and eat and drink a bit.

At times though, you’re left with that. “what to do now, what to do now” feeling. You’re done with the big meal and have to let digestion set in before dessert is rolled out. A little lull. Too much silence. Now what? 

Out Come The Phones…

No…wait! Let’s see what else we can do. There are alternatives to everyone hopping back on their phones, so I wanted to propose some “no electronics required” ideas. There are the time-honored games, like playing cards and puzzles, but here are some other options to enjoy together as a group:

Left Center Right (LCR)

LCR, or Left Center Right, is a dice game entirely of chance that you can easily play with a large group. It is extremely reasonably priced – I picked up a couple at the Dollar Tree a few years ago – and appropriate for all ages. The entire game package is a bunch of chips and three six-sided dice, which are marked with “L,” “C,” “R” on one side and a single dot on the three remaining sides. For each “L” or “R” thrown, the player must pass one chip to their left or right, respectively. A “C” indicates a chip to the pot in the center. A dot has no effect. If a player has fewer than three chips left, they are still in the game, but their number of chips is the number of dice they roll on their turn, rather than rolling all three.

When players have zero chips, they pass the dice on their turn but may receive chips from others, so depending on how you play, you’re never entirely out of the game. The winner is the last player with chips left. This is a tradition at my aunt and uncles for Thanksgiving – and we replace “chip” with “dollar,” and everyone feels just a little more invested in the games. My son won the pot a few years back, and here he is showing off his winnings. My son winning LCR

Mad Libs

Mad Libs is a word game where one player prompts others for a list of words – nouns, numbers, names, adjectives, etc. –  to substitute for blanks in a story. Once all the blanks are completed, it’s time to read the story out loud. The result often ends in hilarity and lots of laughter. I usually laugh uncontrollably at least once when the stories are read aloud! There are a ridiculous amount of Mad Libs books – trust me, much more than you could ever imagine. There are holiday versions, such as Chanukah and Christmas; versions based on TV shows, such as Modern Family and the Big Bang Theory; and music versions, such as Aerosmith and the Foo Fighters. Mad Libs offer an abundance of books that are very family-friendly – but also a bunch that are far from it. 

Pass the Pig  

Pass the Pig is another game suitable for family game night or to play at parties. It has a very simple game package: 2 pig dice, two pencils, and a scoring booklet that includes the scoring table. Toss two pig-shaped dice and see how they land to determine how many points you get. The position of the pigs on ‘landing’ determines the score, and the winner is the first to reach 100. Besides the original, there are a few versions, including Pass The Big Pigs, where each pig measures about 6″ and is made of foam rubber, and Pass the Pig Party Edition. Pass the Pig Game

White Elephant

Everyone likes gifts during the holidays, right? In holiday celebrations, much of the gift-giving is about the kids. That’s understandable, but I want a gift too! An idea is to play White Elephant. Now, your reaction might not be, “This is just what I always wanted,” but it’s a gift exchange that offers some group fun. The formal definition of the phrase “White Elephant” is a useless or troublesome possession, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of. Hence, the perfect name for the game. 

Apples to Apples

My daughter got Apples to Apples as a birthday present a few years ago. I’d heard of it but never played it before. This game is easy to learn and entertaining for a group! It’s a perfect “break the ice” game wherein, each round, a new judge draws a “Description Card.” The other players decide which card in their hand matches the description in play.  You want the judge to think your card is the best match for the description card they are holding, and if so, you become the next judge. Although there is a junior version, the regular version became a bit of a learning opportunity for my daughter, as some of the words on the description cards were new to her. Similar is Not Parent Approved made by the makers of Cards Against Humanity.

Bananagrams

I love a word game. I love Scrabble and crossword puzzles, so I found my game when I discovered Bananagrams.  The goal is to use all of your letter tiles to build a word grid. One game set typically tops out at eight players, but the cost and game board are small (144 tiles in a little banana-shaped bag) enough that two games can be purchased for a larger party. 

The Name Game? 

I’m not exactly sure of the name of this game, but we played it in a big group of adults and kids a few years ago. It may have even been a combination of a few different games, yet it’s a fun one to try in a gathering or party. One person is the judge. Everyone writes down a word on a small piece of paper, including the person who will be the judge. The judge collects all papers, including their own, and reads the words out loud. The person to the judge’s left begins by picking any of the words and “accusing” someone in the group of having written it –  but you cannot accuse the judge.   

For example – say one of the words is balloon, and the player says, “I think Melissa wrote balloon.” If he is correct, Melissa is eliminated from play. If he is incorrect, it just goes to the next person on the left to pick any remaining word and any remaining player. As you keep going, players and “their words” become eliminated. There will be three words when you have two people left, besides the judge, there will be three words because remember that the judge added a word as well. The last person standing beside the judge wins and becomes the judge for the next round.

And Don’t Forget the Classic Games!

With a deck of cards and/or some dice, choices are abundant for games. Uno brings some fun competition as well. And seriously, is there a more inclusive group game than Bingo

Whatever you do, let’s unplug for some laughs and lighthearted play. Do it as a last-minute “fill in the dull moments” or make it a planned part of your day. Keep things low-key with no heavy lifting, but at the same keep those juices flowing. And in between the giggles, you also might learn something new about a family member or friend that you never knew before.

I hope some of these bring some fun to your family gatherings! We’d love to hear some of your ideas as well. What type of games and activities keep your celebrations fun and festive? 

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Melissa is a Bronx native who moved to Westchester County after she and her high school sweetheart got hitched in 1997. She and her husband live in Mount Kisco with their son Corey (2004) and daughter Mia (2007). Melissa spent many years working in Human Resources and currently works in enrollment and marketing for a child care organization. Melissa is a two-time survivor of Postpartum OCD. She initially became interested in writing to raise awareness for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders but has discovered that writing is a newfound aspect of her life that she thoroughly enjoys. Melissa is excited to write with the Westchester County Mom team and hopes you’ll enjoy her stories of the trials and tribulations of a born-n-raised city girl raising teenagers growing up here in Westchester.