This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time, so with the holidays coming up – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years – I figured this would be a perfect time to share with you ideas for some of our favorite fun group games that you can play when you gather with folks for all the seasonal celebrations.
Both my husband’s family and my family are big game-playing families (probably why we married each other), but they’re both quite different in how they play games. On my mom’s side, they’re huge into card games, and on my dad’s side, I can absolutely guarantee you that we’ll be playing dominoes (42 & 88) every chance we get when we’re together. We’ll occasionally play some board games with both sides of my family, but no where near the amount we play with Aaron’s side of the family.
Naturally, as a product of both of our families, Aaron and I both absolutely love playing games. We very regularly had game nights in college and in the first few years after college before we started having kids (something we really want to start regularly doing again once our kiddos get a little older!) – they were SO FUN and comprise some of my fondest memories (I will write a post sometime soon of our favorite group board games and make some recommendations!). Though we’ll play cards or dominoes with some of our dearest friends every once in a while, we rely on our family get-togethers to get our fix of board games and interactive games!
In this post, I want to share 4 DIY group games we’ve come to LOVE that we started playing because of Aaron’s side of the family. None of them require supplies you don’t already have, and they’re all great for large groups of a variety of people. Games are SUPER fun to play, but I also think they provide a great activity for people to get to know each other if they don’t already, as well as to easily integrate people into a group who may be new (i.e. perhaps a significant other of a family member who is coming to a gathering for the first time or a roommate who is tagging along for a potluck). I’m all for making people feel at home, and I definitely think all of these games give everyone a place and help welcome them into the get-together!
I have a handy dandy printable included at the end of this post that you can download and print so you have access to all of the instructions for setting up, the rules of the game, and tips for game play! Aaron and I worked on the printable together, and with his awesome teaching/explaining skills, I think it’s pretty thorough to help you understand and play each of these games! Here’s a quick overview of each game: The Dictionary Game, Telephone Pictionary, Fish Bowl, and a homemade Jeopardy! board.
The Dictionary Game
- 30+ minutes to play
- 5+ players
- Ages 10+
In this game, players try to stump others with difficult and obscure words from the dictionary, as well as by making up their own definitions to those words and trying to deceive the other players into thinking their fabricated definition is the correct one. This is a great game for a variety of ages, is extremely easy to set up, and is fairly simple to play! You just need a dictionary (do people have those lying around anymore?!), slips of paper for everyone, a writing utensil, and a piece of paper for keeping score.
In the example above, the word I found in the dictionary was “petrichor,” which is the aroma in the air upon the first rain after a dry spell. Anyone ever heard of it? I sure hadn’t! The other bogus definitions include: “The formation of dew droplets on a glossy surface;” “A scientific organization for the advancement of natural sciences;” “A three-pronged fishing hook;” “A plant native to Sub-Saharan Africa;” and “The cramped state of muscles resulting from a loss of potassium.”
You can see how tough this game can get! It’s really fun to use your imagination to make up ridiculous definitions for these obscure words and try to convince everyone else that yours is the correct one!
- 10 minutes for game play
- 5+ players (you want an odd number of people if possible)
- Ages 8+
The only objective in this game is to have fun! There are no points and there’s no winner – it is purely for entertainment, and it can be GOOD entertainment! We’ve played this a number of times with Aaron’s family and at our potlucks we used to regularly host, and we’ve definitely had some belly laughs as we’ve played this game! Everyone starts out by writing something down – maybe a brief common phrase, a song title, a movie title, or some noun or verb – and then you pass cards in a circle where people alternate drawing a depiction of the statement and then writing a caption for the picture. Just like in the game of telephone, it is hilarious to see where the original term got lost in translation and where it ends up! You can see in the picture above just how true that is!
I actually saved two pictures (see below) from a couple of games we played with some friends of ours a few years ago – they’ve been on display on my fridge since then. The picture of the apple bottom jeans & boots with the fur, as well as the drumming squirrel, definitely made our eyes well up with some tears of laughter! Good memories.
- 20-30 minutes for game play
- 6+ players (you can easily play with up to 15-20 people for this game, though!)
- Ages 8+
Fish Bowl is one of the most fun games I’ve ever played, and we played all the time in college & in those few years after college. We thought Aaron’s family made it up, but then we started finding more and more people who already knew how to play it, so I’m thinking his family probably didn’t make it up after all. 🙂
This game is a BLAST for a ton of people, but you can play with as few as 6. It’s a team game that consists of 3 rounds. Everyone writes three things down on pieces of paper (everyone gets three slips of paper and writes something on each of them) for the entire group to guess. You can make this a themed game depending on the gathering, but you can also just keep all of the items random. The teams then compete against each other to guess the most items. Everyone puts all of their papers into a bowl, and then there are three rounds where players give their teammates clues to guess each item on a paper: in the first round, they can say or do anything in order to get their teammates to guess what’s on the card; then you put all of the papers back into the bowl and in the second round, players can only silently act out what’s on the card; and then you return all of the papers back to the bowl once again and in the third round, players can only offer ONE word as a clue to get their team to guess what’s on the card. It really is a super, super fun game!
- 5+ players
- 30 minutes – one hour for game play (but for the person/people actually creating the game, they’ll need to dedicate some time beforehand to come up with all of the clues)
- Ages 8+
This is also a great game for a variety of ages and people. We played this at my little birthday party this past summer where not everyone knew each other really well – some people from Aaron’s family and some people from my family were there, and while they all already knew each other, they didn’t know each other well, so this was a great activity that enabled all of them to participate and have fun together. Aaron and I came up with all of the clues the night before when he took me out for a birthday dinner date, and I think we had as much fun coming up with the clues as we did playing the game the next day! You can easily make this game themed (mine was themed all around me – my family, my house, things about me from growing up, things that took place on my birthdate in history, etc. – and things I like – Texas, America, I Love Lucy, etc. – since it was for my birthday party), but you certainly don’t have to! You can see just how DIY our board was – very easy to put together and nothing fancy! We had a lot of fun with this!
Are you ready to go have some fun with folks?! Download the free printable from my Resource Library with all of the game directions, set-up, and tips on how to play each game and go enjoy yourself with your families and friends!