Seven party games to liven up the holidays


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Playing a game at a holiday party brings everyone together, encourages laughter and creates wonderful memories. Games are not only for kids; adults enjoy the friendly competition and camaraderie that comes from playing. Having fun is contagious — even those who don’t participate in the game love to watch.

Party games can be an ice-breaker when guests don’t know each other well or a tension-breaker when combining a blended family. Games release our inhibitions as we shift our focus away from ourselves. A simple game such as Duck, Duck, Goose engages people who would have otherwise not found a reason to interact with each other. The holidays are a wonderful excuse to bond and get to know someone better.

What’s in Santa’s Bag? — Make Santa’s bag out of an old pillow case or create your own with red fabric. Fill the bag with 10-15 small household items such as a hairbrush, wooden spoon or apple. Tie the bag closed with a ribbon. Give each guest a sheet of paper and a pen and ask them to guess what is in Santa’s bag by feeling for items from the outside of the bag. When playing the game with young children, pair them with older kids or parents to help them write their answers. The winner is the person who guessed the most items correctly.

Holiday Charades — Write the names of movies or holiday characters that are easily recognized by your group on index cards. Place the cards in a decorated box. Turn on some music and have all the players sit in a circle and pass the box around. When the music stops, the person with the box has to pick a card and act out what’s on it. If your guests prefer drawing to acting, supply a large dry-erase board and markers. When someone guesses correctly, turn the music back on and start the game again.

Conjoined Gift Wrappers — This game works best with older children and adults. Pair your guests and have them put their arm around the other person’s back, leaving one right arm and one left arm from the couple unrestricted. Supply a shirt box, wrapping paper, scissors, tape and a bow. Ask them to wrap the box together with each person only using one arm. Make it a relay race by having more than one team of conjoined wrappers. Give prizes for the fastest team or the best wrapped package.

Candy Canes — This game is more commonly known by its non-holiday name, Spoons. Everyone sits in a circle on the floor or at a table. Place a candy cane in the middle for each person playing minus one. Using a deck of cards, the dealer starts by looking at one card at a time while he tries to find four of a kind. If the card is not one that he needs, he passes it to the next person. The first person to get four of a kind grabs a candy cane from the middle. When the other players see someone take a candy cane, they should all grab for one, too. The slowest person is left without a candy cane and is out of the game for the next round.

Name that Tune — Play a couple of seconds of a popular holiday song and ask your guests to name it. A variation on this game for older children and adults could be to play the song and have guests sing the next line. More tech-savvy hosts can put together several movie clips and have their guests name the movie, actors or next line.

Who is the Artist? — Provide a clipboard, sheet of white paper and a pen for each player. The players will hold the clipboard on their heads while they draw a holiday scene as directed by the host. For example, draw a fireplace with six stockings; add a Christmas tree in the corner with a star on top, etc. When everyone is done, choose a judge to determine the best picture. This simple game will guarantee laughter from artists and judges alike.

Celebrity Hunt — Write the names of holiday characters (fictional or biblical) on an index card and tape to the backs of your guests without them seeing the name on the card. Have the guests mingle with each other asking only yes or no questions to try to figure out who they (themselves) are. This is a great game for breaking the ice and socializing with everyone when guests arrive.

Make your holiday party entertaining and enjoyable. Encourage your guests to get off their chairs, put down their plates and join in the fun. Playing a game breaks down the walls we build around ourselves and allows us to share the holiday spirit and joy of the season.

Pam Molnar is a freelance writer living in Naperville, Ill. with her husband and three children. Parties at their house include plenty of food, laughter, and of course, games.

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