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3 Family (or Friend) Games for the Holidays

Want a new way to bond with your family during your holiday gathering?

Are the old standbys getting stale, or do you find yourself wishing for ways to go beyond stories you’ve heard hundreds of times and learn more about your family?

Here are three games you can play that don’t require more than yourselves and, in one case, scraps of paper and pens.

1. Six-word Memoirs
This is an idea inspired by the wonderful Six Word Memoir Project. The task is to use just six words to summarize some aspect of your life. You may want to throw out a theme and whoever is inspired can create a memoir around that. Themes could be family, work, past holidays, my childhood, food, love, bad dates, resolutions, advice, great moments, regrets, etc.

Examples (courtesy of my improv company, who used 6-word memoirs in one of our shows):

Keep trying meditation. Keep falling asleep.
My baby laughs silently. Harpo Marx.
Criticizes. Abstains. Lectures. Complains. My brothers.
Couldn’t mac on a PC user.
Meaningful career provokes occasional cubicle fantasies.
Wynston’s “Stardust” at Village Vanguard. Chills.
Stay busy. Be happy. Don’t die.
Always wished to play the piano.

Of course, others in the family are likely to have questions about the backstory behind the six words, so this game is likely to lead to stories you haven’t heard before.

2. Secrets
On a scrap of paper or an index card, each person writes down something they think nobody else in the room knows about themselves (this game could quickly turn sour if people shared secrets about others!). Then one person reads all the secrets out, and everyone has to guess who wrote each one. Note that you aren’t limited to things that you truly consider secrets—the idea is simply to write something you think no one knows. Disclaimer: obviously, this game is a bit “dangerous” and people should only share secrets they are okay with revealing—and that will not make anyone horribly uncomfortable to learn! You may want to set some ground rules.

3. One-word Story
Sit in a circle and make up a story. The catch is that each person can add only one word. Go around the circle as many times as it takes to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. You may not learn anything new that’s actually about your family with this one (other than possibly some weird stuff from their subconscious), but you are sure to laugh a lot and create a new memory.

Does your family have any fantastic traditional activities or games? Share yours in the comments below. AND, if you do try one of the above, come back after the holiday and share your favorite moment!

There are 5 comments. Add yours.

  1. Lindsay

    i LOVE games! Thanks for the tips. Stay busy. Be happy. Don’t die.

    So good.

  2. Martha

    Charades. Funny moments from that game create favorite memories.

    • Carrie

      LOVE charades, Martha–always hilarious and a lot of fun.

  3. Julesbeth

    I want to play these games with everyone I know! (However, I’ll try to limit myself to people who are actually willing….)

  4. Miriam

    Not as low tech as these options but there’s a very fun free app called Charades for Kids! It’s been tried out with 8 & 9 year olds with great success. One child even said he’d never laughed so much in his life!

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