This commentary originally aired on December 19, 2013.
With everyone home for the holidays, Christmas time is a great time to break out games to play with the whole family around.
Apples to Apples is a card game for a group of up to 10 people. Each player has a hand of several red cards, with a noun printed on each one, like “sweet potato” or “Lance Armstrong.” Each turn, one player is chosen as the judge and draws a green card, which has an adjective on it. Each player plays a red noun card face down that they think best matches the green card. Once everyone has played, the judge shuffles those cards and then lays them face up. Whichever card the judge deems the best fit to the green card’s adjective wins a point. The fun here is in the often absurd but almost always funny combinations you’ll find – the adjective “Ancient” might match “Pyramid,” “George Washington,” and “Cher.”
If the kids have gone to sleep and you aren’t easily embarrassed, there is a card game with similar rules called Cards Against Humanity, which trades out Apples to Apples’ fairly benign adjectives with rather more mature combinations.
Another game great for larger groups is called Telestrations. This game is sort of a combination of Pictionary and the old "telephone" game you might have played in elementary school. Each player has a sketchbook and takes a card with a word on it. Every player has 90 seconds with which to draw a picture for that word. When the time is up, they pass the book to the right, and that person writes down on the next page what they think the first person drew. Then, they pass the sketchbook again, and the next player draws what the second player wrote down. This continues all the way around the table until you get your original sketchbook back.
These games are great because everyone gets to play on every turn, so nobody feels left out or bored. Apples to Apples and Telestrations are good for nearly any age, are easy to teach and nearly anyone can have fun with them.