December always brings me fond memories of hours playing board games with my family, sometimes falling out, often going over the allowability of certain two-letter words in scrabble that certain family members insist on playing – you know who you are!
I can’t promise the suggestions here will stop any falling out but they should mix up the traditional squabbles.
If you like Scrabble… try Qwirkle. Instead of letters, 2-4 players rummage in a bag to draw tiles with different coloured shapes and then play these in lines that share either shapes or colours to score points with bonuses for getting a complete set of six to gain bonus points. This simple concept is surprisingly strategic and, the player who uses all their tiles first after all the tiles have gone from the bag, gets a nice bonus. The added advantage of this game is that there’s no disputes over whether it’s a real word! Whilst thinking about which tile(s) to play, Pigs in Blankets are always a Christmas treat in our family, remember to use napkins before you pick the next tile.
If you like Pictionary, but aren’t exactly a Rembrandt… I suggest Dixit. Rather than drawing pictures, a storyteller chooses an image from the six cards in hand and says a sentence to describe it. The remaining players select a card from their hand that matches the description and place these with the storyteller’s card. Players then guess which card was the storyteller’s and earn points based on how many people guessed correctly, although if nobody or everybody guesses correctly, the storyteller gets 0 points. So, choosing a phrase that is both abstract and guessable is a challenge.
Another Pictionary-themed game is Scrawl. 4-8 players start by selecting a card and drawing a phrase on their whiteboards, this is then passed to the next player who has to guess the phrase, the next player then draws that phrase and so on. You’ll be amazed what people have come up with by the time the drawings and phrases make it back to you! This is good fun, but be warned if playing with family, that some phrases can be a bit risqué! If you want to hinder the guest’s drawing and guessing abilities, then a Christmas cocktail like Warm & Cosy is sure to make things funnier.
If you like Monopoly…try Catan. 3-4 players can sit down for a couple of hours and try to dominate an island by building settlements, cities and roads to be the first to get 10 victory points. Dice are rolled to see what resources are produced (or in the case of a 7, stolen from other players) and players can use their stone, wood, grain, sheep or brick to play development cards to build their civilisation. You can also trade with other players, with catchy phrases like “I’ve got wood for grain”. To sweeten up your guests while stealing from them, try serving mince pie pasties, clotted cream is optional.
And an honorary mention for Trivial Pursuit, which we love and will be playing on Christmas day – what better opportunity to show off all the random facts you know than trying to collect pie pieces to prove you’re the biggest know-it-all in the family!
Hope you enjoy these suggestions and please share your own favourite December games and recipes below.