The very first card category we introduced was Games.
That was a good choice, given the history of Christmas. Although there is ongoing cultural friction about whether Christmas should be secular or religious, festive or solemn, the tradition of playing games at Christmas goes back centuries.
Before the age of electricity, families and friends drawn together for the celebration, often huddled indoors due to cold weather or worse, would of course be drawn to diversions before or after a feast.
In the 21st century we have more options. On Christmas Day, we can go to the movies, go skiing, swim at the gym, fly to a warmer climate, or just disappear into our quarters to watch television like any other day.
Time spent playing games with family and friends is less needed, less common, and thus more precious and more appropriate for a Christmas celebration.
That's why we'll be reviewing a variety of family games in the coming months, including games familiar to many, such as today's featured card, but also many less-well-known games, such as Stomple, Coerceo, Tick Tack Ku, Quiddler, Qwirkle, Dao, Mine Shift, and more. If you have some favorite party or family games, please share them in the comments or in our discussion forums.
Today we are featuring the game Apples to Apples (card 51), now owned by Mattel, which was introduced in 1999 and rapidly became one of the most popular party games ever. Apples to Apples is an excellent choice for The Christmas Game because it is flexible enough to handle different sized groups, different ages, different play times, and requires no special expertise.
The rules are simple, too. Each player is dealt seven "red apple" cards showing a noun. One player acts as temporary judge and draws a green card showing an adjective. Then each player delivers face-down one of their red cards that best represents the green card. The judge then shuffles the submissions, reads them aloud, and then chooses the card that is the most creative, humorous, or interesting match. The winner keeps the green card, and the game ends when one player has accumulated a pre-designated number of green cards.
Young kids are frequently at a disadvantage in games that are interesting enough to engage adults. But Apples to Apples turns the tables when the child becomes judge, and it becomes the adult players' challenge to plan for the youth's sometimes quixotic rulings. And even when playing red cards, cleverly associating a noun and a verb is simple enough for kids and creative enough for adults.
Specific games can become great family traditions if consistently played exactly once per year. We recommend that you also include in your Christmas Game deck not only reliable favorites, but also at least one new game to audition for the future. This will help keep your Christmas Game not only fresh, but also ever-improving.