• The reason so many of us love It's a Wonderful Life is because it reminds us of something that is easy to forget: How we interact with others matters immensely. Christmas is a great opportunity for meaningful interaction with others, because the people we care about are more likely to be physically present, and less likely to have other commitments. The challenge is guiding people's attention into meaningful interactions together. And that's where The Christmas Game comes in. It's easy for people to drift off into TV and video games, and soon...

  • A lot of people play defense against Christmas -- they limit their gift-giving, and refuse to participate in rituals like black-friday shopping, or they try not to immerse themselves in Christmas carol Muzak. But resisting our culture's worst offerings is not what The Christmas Game is about.  Our goal isn't to protect ourselves from Christmas, but to create a whole new Christmas tradition that is always joyful, and perfectly tailored to the needs of our families, whether just-beginning or many-generations. We have always believed that our Christmas celebrations should be...

  • Farkle is an easy-to-play dice game requiring six standard (six-sided) dice, and a pencil and paper for scoring. It is simple enough for kids to play, and random enough for kids to win, but still presents strategic opportunities for adults to assess. The first player to accumulate 10,000 points wins. A player begins her turn by rolling all six dice.  Scores are available for 1s, 5s, and 3-of-a-kind, 4-of-a-kind-, 5-of-a-kind, and 6-of-a-kind. Scoring dice are set aside, and the player may elect to either bank her score and end her...

  • We're always sorry to hear the groans of "Too early!" when Christmas talk starts before Thanksgiving. We understand that there is a season for everything, but the intensity of the response suggests that somehow Christmas has become painful -- "If I have to hear one more Christmas carol, or see one more inflatable Santa Claus, or endure one more holiday demand on my attention, I'll scream!" they seem to say. Statements like that suggest an advanced case of Christmas Commercialism, in which the Christmas Spirit has been completely obscured by...

  • In the weeks before Black Friday, the Boycott Black Friday backlash against Christmas commercialism is sure to pick up steam. A Google search for "boycott black Friday" generates 66,000 results.  Without the quotes it's 40 million results. Here at The Christmas Game we boycott Black Friday every year. But we also boycott the day after Black Friday, and the days after that, too. The annual Boycott Black Friday kabuki may feel good, but it doesn't do much, because sending a message to commercial interests that are incapable of hearing or...

  • Amateur sleuths of all ages enjoy a secret code. For families that enjoy a challenge, breaking the code is its own reward. For families more used to extrinsic motivation, you can condition the opening of the next present on the breaking of the code, with all family members working together on the solution. Once you start making and breaking secret codes, the habit can be addicting. You may find yourself leaving encoded messages for other family members in obvious places such as mirrors and pillows, or to be discovered only...

  • A Book of Super Cool Tongue Twisters, is a family self-publishing project that is the opposite of most tongue twister books. Instead of being a book written by adults for children, it seems more like a book written by children for adults. There are no child-oriented illustrations that attempt to make sense of the strange constructions or to make interesting to young children a collection of words that lacks story or sense. Instead, the book gets right down to business, presenting sixty verses on sixty pages. Such a thick collection...

  • It can be challenging to find activities that simultaneously appeal to both younger and older players. Adult bridge fanatics may find that their beloved game is perplexing to younger kids; meanwhile,  younger kids may be disappointed when adults resist one more round of Hi Ho Cherry-O. Crazy Eights bridges the gap nicely - simple enough for kids, but still engaging for adults. The Rules: Eight cards are dealt to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down at the center of the table. The top card is then turned...

  • Fictionary, sometimes known as "The Dictionary Game," is a fun word game in which players attempt to guess the definitions of obscure words. Have your biggest dictionary on hand. One player leads by announcing a challenging word drawn from the dictionary and writing the definition on a slip of paper. All other players have one minute to fabricate and write down a false definition on their slips of paper. All definitions are handed to the leader. The leader then reads aloud in random order each of the proposed definitions, including...

  • The Tray Game is a particularly good card to play if there are younger players in your game, but it remains challenging even for adults. The rules are very simple. The game leader places about 15-25 objects on a tray.  The objects should be small items found around the house, such as a paper clip, a salt shaker, a pen, a nickel, a piece of yarn, a small toy, sunglasses, a cracker, a marble, etc. The leader then covers the tray with a cloth to conceal the objects. The players should...

  • Elephant's Foot Umbrella Stand cleverly combines a memory game and a logic puzzle. The game leader starts off by saying, "I went to the store and I bought," and then the leader names an object. The leader has secretly determined a rule that governs whether an object is permitted.  A relatively easy-to-detect rule would be that the first object purchased must begin with an "A," the second with a "B," the third with a "C," and so forth. Players take turns guessing what objects may be purchased, and adding them...

  • Illustrator Seymour Chwast collects 25 short and easy tongue twisters targeting younger children. An introductory page notes, "The tongue twister is a phrase or sentence that is difficult to articulate because of a sequence of similar sounds. They should be spoken and repeated several times, quickly, without a mistake. As a form of speech therapy, it helps in the treatment of some speech defects." This book may indeed by intended as much for therapeutic purposes as for entertainment. Each verse is written in giant black letters on a white background,...