Christmas Games

Christmas Jane AustenChristmas games have a long tradition, stretching back beyond the parlour games and charades of Jane Austen’s time. In the Victorian era there were a vast number of games books published and playing Christmas games became something of an obsession. These days of course many of the games have migrated onto the computer.

In my childhood home we didn’t play games at Christmas or any other time. My mother loathed things like that, even board games, and as an only child I could usually be found in the corner reading my Christmas books rather than acting out charades. My husband’s family, by contrast, were big games players. Their favourite was cribbage, a game first invented in the early 17th century where the players’ aim is to be the first to score a target number of points. Crib is a game particularly associated with the Navy where it is an "official" game played on ships and submarines, and when my father-in-law retired form the Navy he brought it ashore with him. Spending Christmas with my in-laws introduced me to a whole new way of celebrating family Christmases through playing games together.

Word games will always be my favourite though. Crosswords, code words and quizzes. Recently I came Ex libris
across something from Victorian times called Ex Libris. Someone begins by choosing a book from the shelf. They are the umpire for the round. The game begins with the umpire reading out the book's first line to give everyone a sense of the prose style. Then everyone writes down their best impression of the book's last line. Everyone pops their suggestions into a hat. At the same time the umpire writes down the actual last line and puts that into the hat too. When all the entries are complete the umpire reads them out. Everyone votes for what they think is the real closing line. You get one point if you vote for the actual last line and one point for everyone who votes for your version. The game keeps going until everyone has had a go at being the umpire and whoever has the most points at the end wins. The most fun comes from last lines that are both credible and very inventive!

Do you have any games that are traditionally played in your family or are your favourites? Whatever your holiday entertainments – goiung out, reading, playing games – I hope you have a wonderful time!

60 thoughts on “Christmas Games”

  1. In my family it’s usual to play bingo in New Year’s Eve. We don’t play for money, so it could sound a little boring, but I guess it’s a good game to play with children and grandparents in the same party.
    It’s something we play after we’ve eaten the ’12 grapes’, this is, in Spain we eat a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31st.

    Reply
  2. In my family it’s usual to play bingo in New Year’s Eve. We don’t play for money, so it could sound a little boring, but I guess it’s a good game to play with children and grandparents in the same party.
    It’s something we play after we’ve eaten the ’12 grapes’, this is, in Spain we eat a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31st.

    Reply
  3. In my family it’s usual to play bingo in New Year’s Eve. We don’t play for money, so it could sound a little boring, but I guess it’s a good game to play with children and grandparents in the same party.
    It’s something we play after we’ve eaten the ’12 grapes’, this is, in Spain we eat a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31st.

    Reply
  4. In my family it’s usual to play bingo in New Year’s Eve. We don’t play for money, so it could sound a little boring, but I guess it’s a good game to play with children and grandparents in the same party.
    It’s something we play after we’ve eaten the ’12 grapes’, this is, in Spain we eat a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31st.

    Reply
  5. In my family it’s usual to play bingo in New Year’s Eve. We don’t play for money, so it could sound a little boring, but I guess it’s a good game to play with children and grandparents in the same party.
    It’s something we play after we’ve eaten the ’12 grapes’, this is, in Spain we eat a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31st.

    Reply
  6. My family played a modified version of Monopoly where some money and some property was handed out; the expensive properties were excluded. Trading and buying were allowed which led to some significant negotiations. Was Park Place worth two railroads? We rarely played to the point of a winner, usually agreeing that one of us was pretty far ahead.
    When camping, we’d play some vicious games of Hearts, Spades, or Gin Rummy by the fire if it were nice or in the tent if it were raining.
    A game I played a lot in college was Risk. Allies and double-crosses were all part of the game.

    Reply
  7. My family played a modified version of Monopoly where some money and some property was handed out; the expensive properties were excluded. Trading and buying were allowed which led to some significant negotiations. Was Park Place worth two railroads? We rarely played to the point of a winner, usually agreeing that one of us was pretty far ahead.
    When camping, we’d play some vicious games of Hearts, Spades, or Gin Rummy by the fire if it were nice or in the tent if it were raining.
    A game I played a lot in college was Risk. Allies and double-crosses were all part of the game.

    Reply
  8. My family played a modified version of Monopoly where some money and some property was handed out; the expensive properties were excluded. Trading and buying were allowed which led to some significant negotiations. Was Park Place worth two railroads? We rarely played to the point of a winner, usually agreeing that one of us was pretty far ahead.
    When camping, we’d play some vicious games of Hearts, Spades, or Gin Rummy by the fire if it were nice or in the tent if it were raining.
    A game I played a lot in college was Risk. Allies and double-crosses were all part of the game.

    Reply
  9. My family played a modified version of Monopoly where some money and some property was handed out; the expensive properties were excluded. Trading and buying were allowed which led to some significant negotiations. Was Park Place worth two railroads? We rarely played to the point of a winner, usually agreeing that one of us was pretty far ahead.
    When camping, we’d play some vicious games of Hearts, Spades, or Gin Rummy by the fire if it were nice or in the tent if it were raining.
    A game I played a lot in college was Risk. Allies and double-crosses were all part of the game.

    Reply
  10. My family played a modified version of Monopoly where some money and some property was handed out; the expensive properties were excluded. Trading and buying were allowed which led to some significant negotiations. Was Park Place worth two railroads? We rarely played to the point of a winner, usually agreeing that one of us was pretty far ahead.
    When camping, we’d play some vicious games of Hearts, Spades, or Gin Rummy by the fire if it were nice or in the tent if it were raining.
    A game I played a lot in college was Risk. Allies and double-crosses were all part of the game.

    Reply
  11. My family played a lot of games — at Christmas we usually went on holiday (it being summer here) so at night if we were camping or in a caravan, the games were on. However being the youngest by ten years, it was the older kids and adults who mostly played, while I read a book. *g* Sometimes they;d feel sorry for me and we’d play ‘Sorry’ or Draughts or Chinese checkers. And Scrabble.
    Games are wonderful socializers, I think — they can make strangers into friends in a very shirt time. Ex Libris sounds like fun. I used to play Fictionary when I was younger — before the game was something you bought in a box. Silly, really — all you need is a good dictionary.

    Reply
  12. My family played a lot of games — at Christmas we usually went on holiday (it being summer here) so at night if we were camping or in a caravan, the games were on. However being the youngest by ten years, it was the older kids and adults who mostly played, while I read a book. *g* Sometimes they;d feel sorry for me and we’d play ‘Sorry’ or Draughts or Chinese checkers. And Scrabble.
    Games are wonderful socializers, I think — they can make strangers into friends in a very shirt time. Ex Libris sounds like fun. I used to play Fictionary when I was younger — before the game was something you bought in a box. Silly, really — all you need is a good dictionary.

    Reply
  13. My family played a lot of games — at Christmas we usually went on holiday (it being summer here) so at night if we were camping or in a caravan, the games were on. However being the youngest by ten years, it was the older kids and adults who mostly played, while I read a book. *g* Sometimes they;d feel sorry for me and we’d play ‘Sorry’ or Draughts or Chinese checkers. And Scrabble.
    Games are wonderful socializers, I think — they can make strangers into friends in a very shirt time. Ex Libris sounds like fun. I used to play Fictionary when I was younger — before the game was something you bought in a box. Silly, really — all you need is a good dictionary.

    Reply
  14. My family played a lot of games — at Christmas we usually went on holiday (it being summer here) so at night if we were camping or in a caravan, the games were on. However being the youngest by ten years, it was the older kids and adults who mostly played, while I read a book. *g* Sometimes they;d feel sorry for me and we’d play ‘Sorry’ or Draughts or Chinese checkers. And Scrabble.
    Games are wonderful socializers, I think — they can make strangers into friends in a very shirt time. Ex Libris sounds like fun. I used to play Fictionary when I was younger — before the game was something you bought in a box. Silly, really — all you need is a good dictionary.

    Reply
  15. My family played a lot of games — at Christmas we usually went on holiday (it being summer here) so at night if we were camping or in a caravan, the games were on. However being the youngest by ten years, it was the older kids and adults who mostly played, while I read a book. *g* Sometimes they;d feel sorry for me and we’d play ‘Sorry’ or Draughts or Chinese checkers. And Scrabble.
    Games are wonderful socializers, I think — they can make strangers into friends in a very shirt time. Ex Libris sounds like fun. I used to play Fictionary when I was younger — before the game was something you bought in a box. Silly, really — all you need is a good dictionary.

    Reply
  16. My children and I played several games, but at Christmas we assembled a particular jigsaw puzzle. A round puzzle it featured actual quotes from Shakespeare’s plays. It was a lot more fun than this sounds. Our copy is worn out, and I cannot find another copy.
    My husband and I play dominoes, Cribbage, and Casino; these are the best two person games I know.
    I too think that Ex Libis sounds like fun.

    Reply
  17. My children and I played several games, but at Christmas we assembled a particular jigsaw puzzle. A round puzzle it featured actual quotes from Shakespeare’s plays. It was a lot more fun than this sounds. Our copy is worn out, and I cannot find another copy.
    My husband and I play dominoes, Cribbage, and Casino; these are the best two person games I know.
    I too think that Ex Libis sounds like fun.

    Reply
  18. My children and I played several games, but at Christmas we assembled a particular jigsaw puzzle. A round puzzle it featured actual quotes from Shakespeare’s plays. It was a lot more fun than this sounds. Our copy is worn out, and I cannot find another copy.
    My husband and I play dominoes, Cribbage, and Casino; these are the best two person games I know.
    I too think that Ex Libis sounds like fun.

    Reply
  19. My children and I played several games, but at Christmas we assembled a particular jigsaw puzzle. A round puzzle it featured actual quotes from Shakespeare’s plays. It was a lot more fun than this sounds. Our copy is worn out, and I cannot find another copy.
    My husband and I play dominoes, Cribbage, and Casino; these are the best two person games I know.
    I too think that Ex Libis sounds like fun.

    Reply
  20. My children and I played several games, but at Christmas we assembled a particular jigsaw puzzle. A round puzzle it featured actual quotes from Shakespeare’s plays. It was a lot more fun than this sounds. Our copy is worn out, and I cannot find another copy.
    My husband and I play dominoes, Cribbage, and Casino; these are the best two person games I know.
    I too think that Ex Libis sounds like fun.

    Reply
  21. Gin rummy was one of the games my grandparents taught me, Shannon. Whilst my mother disapproved of games her parents were really into them and taught me all sorts. I love the sound of Risk. A game of strategy by the sound of it!

    Reply
  22. Gin rummy was one of the games my grandparents taught me, Shannon. Whilst my mother disapproved of games her parents were really into them and taught me all sorts. I love the sound of Risk. A game of strategy by the sound of it!

    Reply
  23. Gin rummy was one of the games my grandparents taught me, Shannon. Whilst my mother disapproved of games her parents were really into them and taught me all sorts. I love the sound of Risk. A game of strategy by the sound of it!

    Reply
  24. Gin rummy was one of the games my grandparents taught me, Shannon. Whilst my mother disapproved of games her parents were really into them and taught me all sorts. I love the sound of Risk. A game of strategy by the sound of it!

    Reply
  25. Gin rummy was one of the games my grandparents taught me, Shannon. Whilst my mother disapproved of games her parents were really into them and taught me all sorts. I love the sound of Risk. A game of strategy by the sound of it!

    Reply
  26. I didn’t even know Fictionary was a game you could play without a box, Anne! Really I should have worked that out. Anything word or book related is great and yes, you certainly get to know people well when you play games with them. Although that said, my dh and I almost got divorced over a game of croquet once!

    Reply
  27. I didn’t even know Fictionary was a game you could play without a box, Anne! Really I should have worked that out. Anything word or book related is great and yes, you certainly get to know people well when you play games with them. Although that said, my dh and I almost got divorced over a game of croquet once!

    Reply
  28. I didn’t even know Fictionary was a game you could play without a box, Anne! Really I should have worked that out. Anything word or book related is great and yes, you certainly get to know people well when you play games with them. Although that said, my dh and I almost got divorced over a game of croquet once!

    Reply
  29. I didn’t even know Fictionary was a game you could play without a box, Anne! Really I should have worked that out. Anything word or book related is great and yes, you certainly get to know people well when you play games with them. Although that said, my dh and I almost got divorced over a game of croquet once!

    Reply
  30. I didn’t even know Fictionary was a game you could play without a box, Anne! Really I should have worked that out. Anything word or book related is great and yes, you certainly get to know people well when you play games with them. Although that said, my dh and I almost got divorced over a game of croquet once!

    Reply
  31. Sue, that sounds the best game ever! We used to do the “holiday jigsaw” when we went to Scotland on the basis that there was always going to be the opportunity during bad weather. I think I might introduce the idea of the Christmas jigsaw into this house. It would be great to be able to find another puzzle like the one you had!

    Reply
  32. Sue, that sounds the best game ever! We used to do the “holiday jigsaw” when we went to Scotland on the basis that there was always going to be the opportunity during bad weather. I think I might introduce the idea of the Christmas jigsaw into this house. It would be great to be able to find another puzzle like the one you had!

    Reply
  33. Sue, that sounds the best game ever! We used to do the “holiday jigsaw” when we went to Scotland on the basis that there was always going to be the opportunity during bad weather. I think I might introduce the idea of the Christmas jigsaw into this house. It would be great to be able to find another puzzle like the one you had!

    Reply
  34. Sue, that sounds the best game ever! We used to do the “holiday jigsaw” when we went to Scotland on the basis that there was always going to be the opportunity during bad weather. I think I might introduce the idea of the Christmas jigsaw into this house. It would be great to be able to find another puzzle like the one you had!

    Reply
  35. Sue, that sounds the best game ever! We used to do the “holiday jigsaw” when we went to Scotland on the basis that there was always going to be the opportunity during bad weather. I think I might introduce the idea of the Christmas jigsaw into this house. It would be great to be able to find another puzzle like the one you had!

    Reply
  36. For us it’s card games or Scrabble ( my fabourite) I’m always accused by my niece of making words up. I put the blame on your books. When I find a word I like I write it down, so then she knows it’s a real word. It’s so much fun🎅😀😄

    Reply
  37. For us it’s card games or Scrabble ( my fabourite) I’m always accused by my niece of making words up. I put the blame on your books. When I find a word I like I write it down, so then she knows it’s a real word. It’s so much fun🎅😀😄

    Reply
  38. For us it’s card games or Scrabble ( my fabourite) I’m always accused by my niece of making words up. I put the blame on your books. When I find a word I like I write it down, so then she knows it’s a real word. It’s so much fun🎅😀😄

    Reply
  39. For us it’s card games or Scrabble ( my fabourite) I’m always accused by my niece of making words up. I put the blame on your books. When I find a word I like I write it down, so then she knows it’s a real word. It’s so much fun🎅😀😄

    Reply
  40. For us it’s card games or Scrabble ( my fabourite) I’m always accused by my niece of making words up. I put the blame on your books. When I find a word I like I write it down, so then she knows it’s a real word. It’s so much fun🎅😀😄

    Reply
  41. The only game I played with my parents was Scrabble, which they played every day. My father tried to teach me chess, but I just don’t have the killer instinct! As kids, my brother and I and our friends used to play Monopoly and Risk incessantly.

    Reply
  42. The only game I played with my parents was Scrabble, which they played every day. My father tried to teach me chess, but I just don’t have the killer instinct! As kids, my brother and I and our friends used to play Monopoly and Risk incessantly.

    Reply
  43. The only game I played with my parents was Scrabble, which they played every day. My father tried to teach me chess, but I just don’t have the killer instinct! As kids, my brother and I and our friends used to play Monopoly and Risk incessantly.

    Reply
  44. The only game I played with my parents was Scrabble, which they played every day. My father tried to teach me chess, but I just don’t have the killer instinct! As kids, my brother and I and our friends used to play Monopoly and Risk incessantly.

    Reply
  45. The only game I played with my parents was Scrabble, which they played every day. My father tried to teach me chess, but I just don’t have the killer instinct! As kids, my brother and I and our friends used to play Monopoly and Risk incessantly.

    Reply

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