12 Days of Party Games: Part 1

Our top tips for family friendly party games this Christmas

Christmas is nearly here! What a crazy year it’s been, in the UK we aren’t allowed to see all our family for the festive period which is a shame, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to play some party games!

When I was younger Christmas games would be Cluedo or Scrabble, but nowadays there is so much more choice, how do you know what you should spend your money on? Help is at hand! We’ve been going through our collection – old and new – to find our top 12 party games, so you can hopefully find one to enjoy, wherever you are this Christmas.

This week we’re starting with numbers 12 down to 7 for you to enjoy. Feel free to add your recommendations in the comments!

12. Deckscape (and other escape room games)

We love escape rooms and we love board games, so it’s no surprise we love escape room board games! We’ve not picked a specific game for you here as every one we’ve played has been great fun (Deckscape Test Time happens to be the only one we haven’t played yet!). If you’ve not played a game like this before, they usually take about an hour, will play between 4-6 players (though work just as well with 2) and will involve solving riddles, looking for clues and thinking laterally to find the solutions. We’ve played a lot of the EXIT games (Kosmos games) too, and they are excellent. Deckscape games are especially good as stocking fillers as they are an escape room within a deck of cards, so very compact, but just as challenging!

11. Hues and Cues (3 – 10 players – best with at least 4 – The OP Games)

We LOVE Hues and Cues. It’s a party game which involves creativity. You’re playing against one another to score the most points over a series of rounds. On your turn you pick a card which has a set of coordinates on which relate to a colour on the huuuuuuge Dulux colour chart. You pick one colour and attempt to describe it using just one word (for obvious reasons it can’t be a colour!), “Barbie”, “bogey”, “sunset” would all be valid clues. Then each player places one of their coloured cones on the spot they think you’re describing.

Next you can say a second, two word clue to describe it, so in the “Barbie” example you might go for “candy floss”. The players then place their second cone to try and get closer to the correct answer. Players score points depending on how close they got to the correct space, and you score points depending on how many players got within 1 space of the correct answer. It’s brilliant fun and it’s amazing how tricky it can be to think of descriptive words for colours!

Our house rule for this game was to ban the same word ever being used twice, so if a word was used in a previous game it is forbidden, so it gets harder each time you play!

10. Wrong is Right (2+ players Tactics Games)
Note: This game was gifted to us by Tactics Games for an unbiased review

If you enjoy quiz games as much as we do then perhaps Wrong is Right from Tactics Games is for you. Perhaps the lightest (in terms of difficulty) of our 12, this game is all about selecting the wrong answer from the options available. The question master will ask a question with three possible answers and it’s your job to select the wrong answer among them. Not as easy as it sounds!!

We love quiz games and so does our family, so this one will be perfect for post-Christmas dinner with everyone partially snoozing around the fire!

9. Rhino Hero (2-5 players – HABA Games)

Note Jasper the whippet cowering in fear of the tower collapsing

For those of you with children, or if you just enjoy dexterity games, Rhino Hero is for you. Players take it in turns to add a layer onto the tower, whilst performing the special action on the ceiling card they put down. One of these can be forcing the next player to take the adorable rhino meeple and place him onto the card before taking their next turn, so the rhino gradually climbs up the very wobbly tower. Eventually one of you will knock the tower down (unless you run out of cards first, bravo if you achieve that!), the winner is anyone who didn’t knock it over!

It’s a lot of fun, plays in minutes and will have everyone in stitches as you spend 5 minutes delicately placing the rhino down only to nudge the tower with your elbow a second later. We used to play this on a fairly low table, which was perilous with a lively springer spaniel around!

8. Cross Clues (2-6 players – Blue Orange Games)
Note: This game was gifted to us by Coiled Spring Games for an unbiased review

If your family are getting too competitive and there’s a risk the Monopoly board might get flipped upside down, then perhaps a cooperative game of Cross Clues instead? In Cross Clues, players set up by creating a set of axes with A – D along one edge, and 1 – 4 along another. Each of these gets assigned a word card at random, so you end up with eight words with 16 possible combinations forming a grid (see picture below). Players each draw a card in secret with one of these sets of coordinates on (e.g. C 2). That player then needs to think of a one word clue that links those two words. The other players then guess which set of coordinates the clue relates to. If they’re correct, that’s + 1 point, if they’re wrong, that card is discarded for 0 points.

For example a possible clue to link Shark and Helicopter (C2) could be “chop”

With a maximum of 16 points available, we managed 14 (whoop!), and a whole lot of fun! It’s a great fun game, similar to Codenames in that you have to think creatively to find links between two seemingly random words. It really works for us, and is great to teach people. This is definitely one for Christmas when we tend to play more games with non-gamers. There’s a whole heap of word cards so lots of replayability, and you can even expand up to 5×5 grid if you’re feeling brave (we weren’t brave). Big thumbs up from us.

7. Shot in the Dark Christmas Edition (2+ players)
Note: This game was gifted to us by Shot in the Dark for an unbiased review

Finally in Part One we have another great quiz game in Shot in the Dark, the Christmas Edition. If you haven’t played the original Shot in the Dark we’d highly recommend getting that too as it’s a really good ice breaker/light hearted group game where anyone can be successful. Much like Wrong is Right, you don’t have to be a brainbox or a quizzer to do well here, as most of the answers are (as the name suggests) a shot in the dark. For example “What percentage of Brits would say Die Hard is a Christmas Film?”, nobody is going to know that but you can have a good guess and whoever is closest wins the point.

The Christmas Edition as you would expect covers seasonally themed questions, so crack this one out as you’re eating cheese and biscuits in the evening and you’ll have a great time doing so!

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