• Make Me Laugh is easily among the most popular cards in The Christmas Game. It's fast, simple, and hilarious. Some players laugh so easily that just trying not to laugh makes them laugh. Others may sustain a stone-face until the family discovers a natural comedian in their midst. There are only a few rules. First, the person who is trying not to laugh must remain still, and cannot close their eyes or ears. The comedian may use any props they like, but may not touch the person trying not to...

  • Guggenheim is a simple but confounding game. A commercial version is sold under the name "Scattergories." Some families might wish to simply play Scattergories when Card 114 is drawn. But for those who would make their own game using a pen, paper, and timer, read on. The object of the game is to think of things that begin with a particular letter and fall into a particular category -- for example, an animal that begins with G might be a giraffe; a sport that begins with G might be golf;...

  • Charles Keller's book Tongue Twisters offers 44 chances to tie your tongue. Some of the rhymes are familiar traditional verses, like Peter Piper, Wood Chuck, and Betty's Butter. Others are mere alliterations, without much tongue twisting potential, like, "Terrified tomcats in the tops of tall trees." This collection is unusual in that it contains a large number of exceedingly short entries, such as "This is a zither." Like Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes, the Keller book offers illustrations in the children's style. Sometimes the pictures are asked do a lot...

  • Dao is perhaps the best game that most people don't already know about, and learning about Dao will greatly enhance your Christmas Game. Dao is an abstract strategy game that is as simple as tic-tac-toe, yet as intricate as chess. Dao has everything we look for in a game: there are just a few rules, it's easy to learn, it can be played with simple materials, it's engaging for both younger and older players, and you can play it over and over without getting bored. The game board is a...

  • Brian Cleary's Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes is built more like a children's board book than a book of tongue twisters. With one short rhyme per page, and each page covered with colorful whimsical drawings of animals, it's easy to imagine hoisting a pre-schooler onto your lap and reading this book. But it's not clear how much fun the pre-schooler would have. The design of this book screams young children, but the text is often distinctly adult. It's hard to know what a very young child would make of, "She...

  • Fifteen years after penning the tongue twister masterpiece Fox in Socks, Dr. Seuss in 1979 tried his hand again at twisting tongues with Oh Say Can You Say. Oh Say Can You Say trades the story format of Fox in Socks for a collection of 20+ tongue-twisting vignettes, introducing bizarre scenarios with whimsical illustrations that make you almost believe the scenarios. Oh Say Can You Say is still our second-favorite tongue twister book, because its high-points are very good. But more often than not the verbal structures strain to make...

  • Charades is one of the oldest and best known of the classic parlor games, and has been a staple of Christmas celebrations for a century or more. In a game of Charades, one player is assigned a phrase, which might be a proverb, expression, quotation, location, historical event, or the title of a movie, play, or song. That player must convey the meaning of the phrase to his or her team mates using gestures only and no words. If a team mate guesses the phrase within the time limit, the...

  • Game Card 8 challenges players to try a tongue twister. Our favorite tongue twister book is the Dr. Seuss classic Fox in Socks, which, although fifty  years old, has yet to be topped, or even approached. The plot of Fox in Socks is simply a rhyming dialogue between Mr. Fox and Mr. Knox, in which Fox attempts to coax Knox into saying increasingly difficult and complicated rhymes, climaxing with the infamous Tweedle Beetle Battle, after which Knox finally extracts his revenge. The book's first page warns, "Take it slowly -...

  • Carnelli is a game about titles. It may be the title of a song, movie, book, play, or any other work of literary, artistic, or critical acclaim. Players are seated in a circle, with one player designated as the Carnelli leader. The leader starts with a title, and directs the first person to name another title that is somehow connected to the first title -- the two titles might be works by the same author, same director, they might share a word in common, or there might be some other...

  • Boticelli is similar to Twenty Questions in some respects: In both games, one player -- the "Chooser" -- chooses a secret person and the others must ask questions to try to determine the identity of the secret person. However, unlike Twenty Questions, the Chooser can resist answering questions by providing a alternate responses. For example, suppose that the Chooser has chosen as their secret person the composer Johannes Sebastian Bach. The chooser would then reveal only that the guessers are searching for a person whose last name begins with the letter...

  • Analogies is a devilish parlor game offering timeless mirth well-suited to this most festive of seasons. The game is easy to play, but works best in larger groups. The leader starts by secretly selecting a person who is present in the room, including, potentially, themselves. The other players take turns asking the leader to make an analogy of the selected person.  For example, if this person were a fruit, what fruit would they be?  Or if this person were a movie protagonist, who would they be. Any player may guess...

  • Retailers have turned on their Christmas engines and are getting ready to usher in a big buying season. Costco's Christmas displays went up in mid-August, and on October 1st Walmart's Christmas display was bigger than its Halloween display. While the big retailers are preparing their assault, we at The Christmas Game are preparing our counter-assault. Although it is too early to celebrate Christmas (we prefer the Advent Calendar), it is never too early to start preparing for a less-commercial Christmas. In fact, if you wait until Black Friday to think...