I’m running this post again because I think games are my favorite gift to give and receive (besides books or kitchen gadgets or…okay, I like giving and receiving all sorts of gifts!).
Edited to add: THE game I’m giving this year is Monikers (or an expansion pack for people who I know that I already have the original). Monikers is basically a pre-packaged version of the fishbowl DIY game described below, but because some of the things are so out there, it makes it even more hilarious than the DIY version. We have played Monikers approximately 273 times this year, and every time has been full of fun and laughs.
I have done my kitchen/gardening/green round-ups in the past, and I stand by most of those things still. I thought I would branch out a bit with this year’s gift ideas and include things that I love to give and receive that might be a bit outside the normal food blog realm. I loooooove games of any kind, and my mom and I give each other a new game every year, so between the two of us, we have tested out plenty of them. I thought I would include the ones that have become family or friend traditions:
Top left to bottom right…
- The Game of Things. This is a fun one that is great for a large group, preferably that knows each other well. Ours is so well used at this point that we had to create our own response sheets for people, but that wasn’t a big deal.
- Cards Against Humanity. This is a terrible, terrible game “for horrible people,” as the title suggests, but we have had some hilarious memories playing this with friends. Make sure you play with the right, not-easily offended crowd. If you have friends that already have this game, an expansion pack is a great stocking stuffer. We got a few expansion packs last year, and it definitely freshens up the game.
- Loaded Questions. This is another one that’s great for a group who knows each other well. It’s a lot like Things actually, just with some racier questions. We have the older version, and this 2015 version says that it is updated with loads more questions. There’s also an adult version and an on-the-go version, which would be great for people who liked the original.
- UNO Dare: You obviously should own the original UNO, but this new version is my favorite find of 2015. We have been playing it non-stop with friends and family. We’ve even been adding our own dares to the ones that come with the game (easy to do for anyone who ever played a drinking game in college). As a bonus, we made a modified “dare” version of it to play with Jasper that may or may incorporate chores.
- Rummikub: I love games so much that I’m not always patient enough to wait for us to have people over to play them, so I love finding fun two-person games that I can talk Grant into playing too. We love this classic, and we sometimes keep games going for weeks at a time. It’s fun with another couple too, although you can only play with four people. I’ve been wanting to experiment by getting another set to see if you could play with eight, but I haven’t done it yet.
- Spot It: If you have a kid in your life (or really even if you don’t – Grant and I love this game), put one of these in their stocking this year. The kids started getting in when they were about three, and Jazzy now regularly beats us. It’s quick, fun, and simple. They have a few different versions, so check those out to find one that fits your recipient’s personality. We have a few different sets, and I keep one in the car to bring out at restaurants or other places where we have to wait.
- Jungle Speed: I got this one for my mom last year, and it was the hit of Christmas. Just buy it, play it, and trust me. So fast, so fun, and so hilarious. Everybody loves it, and it works for all ages.
- Smart Ass: I like the idea of Trivia Pursuit, but I’m terrible at it. This has trivia, but it’s much easier and faster moving than Trivia Pursuit. It’s a fun game to play with a group too.
- Bananagrams: Grant and I love this one – it’s a great two-player game. It’s basically Scrabble on steroids, and it is super portable, which is always a bonus for me. I would recommend the bigger version just because it’s fun to play with a group, and you’ll want the bigger version to play with more than four players.
- Catch Phrase: This is an oldie, but goodie. Everybody loves it, it’s one of the few games that is still fun for really large groups (as in we’ve played this with 30+ people before). A must have in any game arsenal.
- Quelf: We’re convinced that some college guys created this game after a night of partying. It’s weird, hilarious, and hilarious.
- Memory: The classic, but our kids love it. And I’m all about indoctrinating them into loving games early.
- Anomia: I looove this game. It basically tests how quickly you can think on your feet, and the results are typically quite entertaining. It’s a “Mensa Select” game, so we always joke with the winner that they’re an official genius after winning.
- Wits and Wagers: Back to that Trivia Pursuit thing again, this game has lots of trivia, but you don’t have to know much of it to win. It’s great for a group, and I haven’t met anybody that doesn’t love it. It isn’t as fast-paced as some of the other games, so it’s fun for a group who wants to chat and play. They have different versions depending on your audience these days, so those might be worth checking out if you already have the original.
- Perpetual Commotion: Did you ever play that card game Speed growing up? We played it a ton, and this reminds me of that but with more stuff going on. It is really fast-paced (so much so that my sister won’t play with my dad because she’s afraid he’ll have a heart attack playing it) and loads of fun.
- DIY versions of games. Some of our favorite group games don’t require much in the way of money or supplies to play, so I thought I would share those too:
- Telephone pictionary: This game is now for sale, but we have always played it with just paper and pencils. This is a go-to game for any big or holiday gathering. Here are the general rules. We use scrap paper from work (a cut up 8.5 x 11 is the perfect size). Everyone needs enough sheets for the number of people that are playing. So if ten people are playing, everyone needs ten sheets of paper (100 sheets each). Everyone needs a pencil. Each person comes up with a phrase for their first page (song titles, movie quote, song lyrics, joke, saying, etc.). You designated someone as the timer – the drawing rounds typically need more time, and the writing rounds need less. When the timer says go, you pass your entire stack of paper with your saying on top to your left. Then you look at the saying, put that piece of paper on the bottom of the stack, and then draw your interpretation of the saying on the second sheet of paper. Then when the timer says to pass, you pass your entire stack to the person on your left. You’ll receive a drawing. You look at it, and then put that slip of paper in the back of the stack, and then you write what you think the drawing is. Just like in the traditional game of Telephone, this goes off the rails very quickly. My mom is hard core and numbers the pages or staples them, so that people are less likely to get confused. But the important thing to remind people is that they only draw or only write – you can’t have words and pictures on one sheet of paper. The game ends when your original phrase comes back around to you on top. Then you go through each person’s stack of papers. It is hilarious. People may or may not pee their pants. We have a collection of “classic” drawings from our many years of playing this game.
- Fishbowl: we love to play this around Christmas. We split into teams of boys versus girls. Each player has three small strips of paper and writes down three different things on their paper. If we’re playing around Christmas, we tell everyone to come up with holiday related words or phrases (e.g. Christmas movie quotes, song quotes, traditional foods, etc. – the sillier, the better). Then you fold the slips of paper, put them in a large bowl (“the fishbowl”), and then start playing. You’ll need a timer (we usually do with 45-60 seconds per player). Each person on the team will take a turn until you run out of the slips of paper, and you play three rounds. Your team gets a point for each slip of paper they guess during each turn. The first round is like Catch Phrase, where you try to get your team to guess the word or phrase on the paper without saying the actual word/s on the paper. The second phrase is like charades, so you can’t talk (but you’re at least familiar with the clues because you heard them in round one). The last round is puppets, so you have to use a teammate as a puppet to act out the clue on the paper without making any noises. Needless to say, it’s loads of fun.
- Reverse Charades: This is just what it sounds like: instead of the person whose turn it is acting out a clue for the rest of her team, the team acts out the clue for the person whose turn it is to guess. Hilarity ensues. We used to play this with just paper, but the iPad version is soo much easier for a group. Heads Up is basically the same game for your phone and works great when you’re out.
- Puzzle-Off: We just started this last year, and it was SO fun! My mom and sister are crazy good puzzlers, so they were on one team, and then Grant, my dad, and I were on the other team. They still beat us (grr), but all you do is purchase (or use what you have obviously) a couple new puzzles that are the same size (same size pieces and number of pieces), split into teams, and then the first team done wins.
Honorable mentions: Apples to Apples (a clean Cards Against Humanity), Scattergories (I like this game, but Grant beats me so terribly every time we play that I don’t like playing with him anymore), Guesstures (an organized version of charades and always fun with a group), and Phase10 and SkipBo (I love both of these games, and they both are fun with just two people. They’re also great for a crowd because it leaves plenty of time/room for conversation).
Okay, YOUR turn. What are your favorites? I need some ideas for my mom this year!
*Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that I’ll get a tiny commission if you choose to purchase one of these games from Amazon. Thank you!