These games will keep your family and friends laughing and engaged for hours… even on the longest of winter days
Every year, a strange yet lovely phenomenon occurs the week between Christmas and New Years. Nobody knows what day it is (or sometimes, even what year it is), we’re all stuffed with candy and holiday goodies, and a lot of us find ourselves trying to figure out exactly what to do with this extra time. Well if you’re lucky enough to be with family, or even if you’re not, we’ve come up with a list of games that you can play either in person or over Zoom that are sure to wake your whole family up out of their food comas and have them laughing in no time.
Designed for four to eight players, Code Names is best played with people you know very well. The premise is this: you break into two teams, with one person on each team designated the “spymaster.” Every player can see a board covered in seemingly unrelated words, but only the spymasters know which words will earn their team points or not. The spymaster then chooses one word — a code word — to describe as many of his or her words on the board as they think their teammates can guess, and the team must then choose the words on the board they think are related to the spymaster’s code word. But watch out — if you choose a word that isn’t on your team’s list, you could earn points for the other team. This is a great game for couples, besties, or mother-daughter duos who know each other so well, they can basically reach each other’s minds.
Did you ever think you’d make a great salesperson, if only you were given the chance? Well, here’s your opportunity to find out. In this game, each person is given a group of cards with unrelated words like “beard,” or “sandwich.” Every player acts as a salesperson, who must try to sell a made-up product they invent using two of their word cards. You’ll switch off who the buyer is each round, and that person chooses the best product, which earns the player whose product they’ve chosen a point. But here’s the catch — each round, the buyer’s identity changes. So in one round, you might need to sell your product to a zombie, or to someone stranded on a deserted island or to a couch potato. Our advice? Get creative and get confident. “What couch potato wouldn’t want to buy the best new product on the market, the Beard Sandwich? You don’t even need to get out of your seat for a snack — it’s strapped right to your face!” You may be surprised at the level of creativity your friends and family can come up with!
All this game requires is a bowl, some paper, and a couple of pens, and it’s SO. MUCH. FUN.
Each player writes down at least three nouns on a small piece of paper — these could be objects, favorite foods or even the names of people — and puts them into a large bowl. The group then divides into two teams with a player from each team taking turns choosing a word from the bowl. In the first round, one player chooses from the bowl, and attempts to get their teammates to guess the word without actually saying the word. Each player is given one minute to get through as many words as they can. In the second round, the same words are put back into the bowl, but this time the player must act out what the word is, Charades-style. In round three, players are allowed to use only one word to describe the word they’ve chosen. Depending on how many words you decide to put into the bowl, this game can provide hours of fun for both kids and adults.
Another game with the best price tag of all — free! In this game, one player is secretly assigned the role of “murderer,” by handing every player a playing card and choosing a particular card to signify that the recipient is the murderer. The murderer has the ability to “kill” other players by making eye contact and winking at them. Players walk around a room and converse with each other, and if a player is winked at, they must count to five and then pretend to die a dramatic death (naturally the most fun part of the game). If someone believes they know who the murderer is they can make an accusation, but if they are incorrect, then they die. The goal is for the murderer to “kill” as many people as possible. This is a great game for kids in elementary and middle school or older.
Rolled out as an iPhone app after Ellen Degeneres made it famous on her talk show, Heads Up is a Charades-like game that’s a riot for adults and kids alike. Using the Heads Up app, one player holds their smartphone up to their head so the other players can see the screen, and a word pops up depending on what category the group has chosen (categories include animals, celebrities, “act it out,” and many more). The group then shouts out words to try to get the player to guess the word that’s written on the screen within an allotted amount of time. If the player guesses correctly, he or she earns a point, and bows their head down to move on to the next question. The best part? The game also has a record feature, so you can play back a video of your friends or family frantically shouting random words at you.
In a now bygone era, one had to show up at a karaoke bar to sing their favorite songs over pre-recorded tracks. But these days, anyone can be a superstar from the comfort of their own home! YouTube has a great selection of Karaoke songs to choose from, and if you want to make things really professional, you could even spring for a karaoke microphone.
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