Spending some time with your family this season? Make the most of it with our catalogue of universally appealing, family-friendly, thematically appropriate games, such as:
Fruit cake is the butt of too many jokes this time of year. Cast that classic rum-soaked dessert in a new light, and suggest you all take turns swallowing a sentient telepathic Sumerian cockroach instead. It goes great with eggnog!
The older you get, the more you realize that holidays are all about the kids. The Warren is most appropriate for Easter, obviously, but why miss a chance to play? This simple tabletop RPG, inspired by YA classic Watership Down, appeals to every child’s adventurous spirit and love of fuzzy animals. Also, they need to learn about the looming spectre of death eventually.
Somehow, a game about petty disputes among the undead, brought to an adversarial court and arbitrated by a fickle judge, is actually a genuinely fun family game. Seriously, we heard positive reports after Thanksgiving! Maybe take out card six if you have really young kids.
It’s never fun when politics comes up over dinner–so turn your dinner table into a boardroom table, and tell a story you can all relate to: one about the relentless abuse of state power. This live-action game will bring the whole family together, as they take on the roles of agents of the Ministry of State Security, devising a plan to covertly destroy a group of political activists code named WINTERHORN. There may be some disagreements in the family, but you can always bond over your paranoia and crushing anxiety.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the spirit of the season, and need a break from all that merriment, retreat to a quiet place and play our introspective one-player game about people who love each other and cars that go fast.
The years fly by like snowflakes. Everything is tinsel. Everything is sleigh bells. You stand vigilant before the fireplace without thought or breath–such is your compulsion. You do not remember your name and still you watch. The flesh has fallen off the turkey and still you watch.
JUGGERNAUT is a card-based live-action game for 4-6 players about a machine that can tell the future. But it’s also about 4-6 people trapped in an enclosed space, watching seemingly uncontrollable yet completely predictable events play out in front of them, questioning their own free will as the stress of the situation brings their insecurities, old grudges, and deeply-rooted mistrust to the surface. In that sense it bears no relation to an extended family gathering whatsoever.
Just go to the car and scream for a while. That’s the whole game.
Here’s a game that, much like gift-giving, is all about savagery and servility. Know your role and stay on the right side of the family Dimber-Damber when it comes to gifts (your mom is probably the family Dimber-Damber). As in Durance, messing this up is a one-way trip to a desolate and unforgiving wilderness of shame.
Many people travel great distances to be with loved ones over the holidays. Why not play a game that is also about a great journey back to comfort and safety? As with modern air travel, only one will survive, and the entire place is infested with swamp ghosts.
Combine a themed celebration with a history lesson by magically transporting your whole family back to 1944, when the Night Witches spent their holiday bombing what remained of German-occupied Warsaw. Kasha for everybody! Officers (well, grandpa, anyway) get sprats in oil and a lend-lease chocolate bar, and you pocket the savings.
What says holiday cheer more than enjoying crisp snow, soaring vistas, and the prospect of ignominious failure in the face of a Himalayan gale? After a hearty meal, convert the dining table, the kid’s table, and maybe the living room furniture into surreal blanket forts for an evening of deception, ambition, and merciless death.
Actually, maybe not.
Sometimes, people are driven so powerfully to achieve an unrealistic vision of happiness in an unstable situation that failure becomes both inevitable and acutely painful. Incidentally, there are numerous holiday-themed Fiasco playsets.
Maybe next year you’ll opt to stay home, and keep cozy with someone who brings out the softer side of this beloved season. Stay warm by the fire with our tender two-player game of forbidden love. Fireplace optional but highly recommended.
Santa Hat by Alexandre from the Noun Project.