Christmas Games: How To Play Charades And Other Party Games

19/12/2014 12:43 | Updated 20 May 2015

Teen boy girl play charades game at party Christmas party games are the perfect activity for Christmas Day when you simply can't eat another bite (or swallow another mouthful).

Bringing all generations together for a bit of daft fun, parlour games like charades or Who Am I? are a reliable source of family jokes and memories to be relived for years to come ("Remember the time Auntie Doris had to act out Fifty Shades of Grey?").

So here are six simple but fun family party games to play at Christmas:

Charades

The ultimate Christmas classic. Divide the group into two teams (try to be balanced - split the kids evenly!). Clues to be acted out can either be written by the teams for their opponents or else there are clue generators online.

The first player to perform has to act out their clue silently, using only gestures and signals (and no mouthing the words!), while their team try to guess correctly before the time is up. The opposing team then takes their turn, and the game continues until everyone has had a turn as the actor, when the scores are totted up.

Creativity is obviously key to the game, but over the years certain special signals have become associated with particularly common words. You can brush up on them here, although many families have their own.

For a more casual approach, one variation on the game is to have each player act to the whole group - the first person from either team to guess correctly then takes the floor (be warned, this may make younger children feel left out, so you may need to intervene on their behalf).

Who Am I?/Twenty Questions

These are both very similar guessing games, with Who Am I? being a more modern version of the classic parlour game Twenty Questions. Both of them are easy to play and still great fun.

Twenty Questions is very simple: one player thinks of an object, and then the guesser tries to work out what 'thing' or person is by asking questions. They can use up to 20 questions before they guess, but the answer can only take the form of 'yes' or 'no'.

The game is so old that there are lots of variations - you'll have to decide for yourself whether, for instance, the object has to be in sight, or whether adverbs like 'usually' or 'sometimes' are permitted in addition to yes and no.

In Who Am I?, each player writes the name of a famous person (king, actress, fictional character etc.) on a Post-It note and sticks it onto another player's forehead without letting them see it. As in Twenty Questions, each player must ask the rest of the group 'yes or no' questions to figure out who they are, going around the group until everyone has guessed (or given up!).

Wink Murder

Fancy a murder mystery game but can't be bothered with the complicated back stories and the silly accents? Wink Murder is as basic as it gets, but fiendishly good fun.

Get each player to choose a piece of folded paper from a basket, with 'murderer' on one piece, 'detective' on another and the rest blank.

The murderer's goal is to bump off the other players (dramatic death scenes are encouraged!) by winking at them, while the detective tries to spot them and halt the killing spree.

When the detective is sure he or she has caught the murderer, they may stop the game by shouting "I accuse!" and pointing at their suspect. You can limit the number of guesses allowed. If only the detective and murderer are left alive, the murderer has won!

Consequences

A great family game, provided your children are old enough to 'get' it. Consequences requires a bit of attention to be played to full effect and it's a perfect choice if you have a smaller gathering at Christmas.

Taking a pen and paper, the first player writes an adjective along the top of the piece of paper, then folds it over so it cannot be seen by the other players, before passing it to his or her right. Each player then writes a word or phrase to fill in a series of blanks, with each player folding and passing on.

A typical list of blanks might go like this:

Player 1: adjective

2: man's name

3: woman's name

4: where they met

5: how they met

6: what he gave her

7: what she said to him

8: what happened in the end?

When all the blanks have been filled, one person can volunteer to read out the whole thing so everyone can laugh at the crazy story the players have unwittingly written together.

Spoons

For this simple but frenetic parlour game, you will need a deck of cards and some spoons - one less than the number of players (you'll see why).

Put the spoons in the middle of the table and deal four cards to each player to start with. Then the dealer begins dealing the remaining cards out one at a time, face down, to each player in turn. The player may either pass the card on or keep it and pass on one of his/her other cards.

The first player to get four of a kind grabs a spoon from the pile, and as soon as the other players realise, they must all try and grab a spoon. Whoever is left spoonless is the loser - invent your own forfeit!

Ball of wool

The Victorians were a weird bunch in a lot of ways, but we have to admit - they knew the secret to a good party game was a combination of simplicity and silliness, and Ball of Wool has both.

All you do is take a little bit of wool (a ball of cotton wool works perfectly) and place it in the centre of the table. The players sit around the table and attempt to blow the wool off - whoever it falls closest to must pay a forfeit, leading to red faces and gasps all round as each player tries to ensure that it won't be them!

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