Don’t know about you, but our Christmas is filled with silly games in the evenings; no TV for us, we spend hours playing parlour games, family card games, Pictionary (our own version; no board, a hat full of Christmas-themed paper slips, and yes, we might even have our own flip chart & stand…) and the like. Every year we add a couple of new ones, but every year some of the old faithfuls come out again – they’ve stood the test of time, and are guaranteed to be enjoyed (raucously and competitively) by the whole family .
I have found that whilst everyone likes the idea in principle of a few family games, it can be tricky trying a new one; you might stick with a board game like Monopoly (yawn) or Sorry! (better, but max four players) simply because you’ve never tried one of the others – and everyone knows the mind-numbing dullness of a bad family game!
So here is a list of our top five family card games that are sure to get things going in your house this Christmas!
First up, a very traditional game and a firm favourite in our family the very fabulous Woodland Happy Families
You probably think you know Happy Families. You may even have a pack.
But these are not just any old Happy Families.
I just ADORE this set of cards – the illustrations step straight out of my magical childhood imaginings of real animal families. This game is one of our top family card games at Christmas, and has been since the boys were tiny.
The game itself is a deceptively simple trading game, where you attempt to collect a complete ‘family’. It never fails to be quickly picked up by younger children. Quickly they see behind the simple rules, working out that if Granny is asking for Mrs Robin, and I saw her already get Mr Robin, and I myself have Miss Robin, then she must hold Master Robin too (you have to hold one of a family to ask for others y’see). A firm favourite with young and old alike. And selling on Amazon for under £5 – you just can’t have too much fun at that price, total bargain!
Next up to be recommended for Christmas fun, is the ridiculously riotous Pit!
“WHAT? You’ve never played PIT? Well you should!
It’s simply a riotous game that is sure to bring much laughter, noise (and probably a lot of cheating) to any family Christmas. To be honest, my daughter has to be persuaded to play – “it’s so LOUD!”. I was introduced to this game by my husband’s family, including three elderly ladies in their 80s. Frankly I was gobsmacked at the speed, intense competitiveness and blatant cheating going on!
The cards are dealt, the (basic, simple) rules explained, and someone shouts “Pit’s open!”.
Then the NOISE!
Instantaneous shouts, hollers, shrieks and roars hit you from all sides as everyone tries to deal, swap, exchange (and, quite frankly, CHEAT) their way into a full set of their chosen cereal. It’s just a swapping game – trading cards with everyone in a desperate bid to ‘corner the market’ in your chosen cereal. Easy, simple, loud and raucously funny. Watch out for the Bull!
Happy to say that ‘Pit‘ is still being made, 107 years since it’s invention, although this is the new deluxe version with a bell (we just shout ‘CORNER’ when we have a full set). This version of Pit is £18.50 on Amazon, (although if you are clever you might find an original set on Ebay for a lot less) and if you have a few noisy guests this year, I promise you will not regret it. Age 6+ is recommended, and it’s a maximum of 8 players at one time – we rotate turns if we have more, as it’s almost as fun to watch!
Dobble is the next card game on our list.
Like all the best family games, this one’s simple to learn, fast to play, and surprisingly addictive. It’s a twist on the basic ‘snap’ card game – but frustratingly more complex, and younger players actually have the edge over the older, (slower!) relatives. Simply match two icons to win the card – before someone else matches one of theirs. We take this little tin on holiday, when we go out to dinner with the kids, grab it on a rainy Sunday… There’s five different game modes – you can easily fill an hour with this, though each round probably only takes 3 minutes.
Under £11 on Amazon Prime, Dobble is a firm family favourite – I know it seems pricey for a little tin, but I promise you’ll have years of fun with it.
Where on Earth? Travel Trivia
A globe-trotting game of travel trivia! Answer your way around the world in this travel-tastic trivia game.
To win bonus points test, your geographical knowledge even further by locating your answers on the travel map.
It’s a flexible game which lends itself to variations – we spice it up a bit to make it a crowd-pleasing team game; we bought a large world map pin board and some pins, split into teams and see who can pin their answers correctly on the map! Definitely adds a bit more speed and shouty competitiveness to the game, and also another level of knowledge; some in the team will be good at answering the questions, but will probably rely on others to know where they physically are in the world. Also plenty of scope for mother-mocking when her Geographical ignorance becomes blatantly obvious (I can answer the general knowledge to get the first point, but put a pin on the Sudan in the map? Nope.)
‘Where on Earth’ by Ginger Fox can be purchased on Amazon for just £8.50
And you can also get a fab world map pin board and pins from Amazon here!
Blockbusters Game – Give us a P Please Bob!
Come on – Remember Bob? It’s now back on TV hosted by Dara O’Brian and as popular as ever. And I’m very happy to report that the simple general knowledge quiz is as alive a sever. We actually have the old version from the 80s, but this is updated version has better questions.
Based on the timeless TV quiz show this exciting family game requires players to use knowledge and strategy to make their way across the classic Blockbusters grid.
The winner of the first three rounds goes on to play the infamous Gold Round and be crowned ultimate Blockbusters champion in this exciting family game.
Contents: cards, playing boards, hexagonal counters, rules, sand timer.
A firm family favourite and sure to be a big hit at Christmas. From Ginger Fox the Blockbusters game is on Amazon for just £12.27 grab it now to add to your family fun this Christmas time.
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