• Hearts works particularly well for mixed age groups -- simple enough for kids, but nonetheless challenging for adults.  The rules below are for a four-player game -- alternatives for more or fewer hands are offered afterwards. * 13 cards are dealt to each player * Each player chooses three cards, and passes them to another player. * The first round of play is led by the player to the left of the dealer. Each other player, in clockwise order, then plays a card from their hand. Players must "follow suit"; that is, play a...

  •  Old timers may recall the popular show, Name That Tune from the  1950's (and then again in the 1970's and 1980's), in which competitors attempted to identify a melody based on a clue and just a few notes from the song. MP3 players and playlists make it easy to play a simple, fun version of this game, which has been the highlight of many a Christmas Game. First, decide what songs your family members all might be somewhat familiar with with, but won't necessarily be able to have right at the...

  • Every year the big national retailers do their best to find out exactly what Christmas means to you, and then super-impose their product onto your vision.  Below, we feature Starbucks' 2013 effort to usurp the meaning of Christmas, "Create Wonder | Share Joy": We think Starbucks coffee tastes good, but it does not create wonder -- at least not the Christmas kind. And when you share their coffee you are not sharing joy, you are just sharing coffee. We do not mind the exhortation to create wonder and share joy;...

  •    _____________________ "What I really, really, really want for Christmas is just this:  I want to be 5 years old again for an hour.  I want to laugh a lot and cry a lot.  I want to be picked up or rocked to sleep in someoneís arms, and carried up to bed just one more time. "I know what I really want for Christmas: "I want my childhood back. Nobody is going to give me that.  I might give at least the memory of it to myself if I try. ...

  • Change Seats is a simple, indoor-but-slightly-physically-active game especially appealing to elementary-age children, but which can be modified to broaden its appeal somewhat. Change Seats works best with larger groups. To play, designate a number of chairs that is one less than the number of players, and arrange the chairs in something like a circle. The person without a chair calls out a category, directing all participants to find a new seat IF they fit into the category. For example, the caller might say, "Change seats if you are... ...Left handed...

  • Proverbs is an easy game to play, and a wonderful 19th century treasure worth rescuing. When you play Proverbs, you not only get the fun and challenge of the game, but it comes with all kinds of time-tested useful wisdom built right in! The concept is very simple. One proverb is selected from a list, and the players must guess the proverb based on clues. The winner is the first to guess correctly. Clues might be the first word, or the first-and-last-words. Or the game might be played Taboo-style, where one...

  • We often meet people who praise The Christmas Game, but lament that their kids are too young to play. We don't think kids are ever too young to play The Christmas Game -- you just choose your cards carefully. Choosing cards is part of the game, and if we need to do something involving strained carrots, there's a card for that! But there's a better answer: The age or even the presence of children does not matter to The Christmas Game because Christmas is not a children's holiday. Modern commercialism...

  • We often encounter church people who suggest that it might better to give $15 to the poor instead of buying The Christmas Game. There are three reasons why this argument is misguided and leaves everyone worse off. First, exhortation and shaming are not effective at changing people's behaviors. By contrast, The Christmas Game is a proven framework that encourages and institutionalizes acts of kindness far in excess of $15. In other words, if your family plays The Christmas Game, you will end up doing much more than donating $15 to a...

  • Many skeptics suggest that you can't fight commercialism by buying something. We hear this all the time. They say that if you want the benefits of playing The Christmas Game, you have to make your own set. It's okay to make your own game set. That's how we started, and there are plenty of instructions on our website that will allow you to do so. But regardless of whether you make or buy, you'll strike a blow against Christmas commercialism when you play the game, because gift-giving will no longer...

  • If your family is going to escape the commercialism and make THIS YEAR's Christmas more meaningful, more memorable, longer lasting, and more fun -- or if you would like to help your friends and family upgrade their celebration -- drop everything and buy The Christmas Game right now. Five Reasons: 1. The Christmas Game Works!  Buying and opening presents should not be the central focus of the holiday, but it's awfully hard to convince people that they want fewer presents. The Christmas Game gives your family an alternative approach that...

  • The Memory Book is one of the most important elements of The Christmas Game. The Christmas Game cards are about reinventing the holiday in a more meaningful way by lightening the emphasis on presents and doing things that matter. But the Memory Book is about connecting at an even deeper level. A truly magical thing happens when you pause to consider questions involving the things you care about most, or your goals or interests, or the things that make you you. And when that information is captured it creates an extraordinarily valuable heirloom. We...