and for all the other people, too, everywhere on the world, regardless where you are and which your native language is: have a merry and peaceful Christmas.
Christmas is the time of giving gifts to (and receiving from) parents, partners, kids and friends. When all the gifts are laying below the Christmas tree, the kids usually attack their pile and unwrap their gifts in the shortest time, much faster, than you were able to warp them with beautiful paper and decorate them with bows and stickers. When having more than one kid, they all do it at the same time. And you, as the giver, can’t notice, if they are happy about the gift nor you can notice any reaction.
To calm down this chaos, we had an idea some years ago. Instead of giving each kid a pile of gifts to unwrap, we put them all on one single pile and attach a little batch with the name of the recipient. (You can certainly still put them on separate piles for a better overview). On the table we set up a game board (the first version was made of LEGO many years ago) with ~28 (8 + 6 + 8 + 6) fields. A figurine represents each family member(i.e. an angle, a toy-car, an anima or a small bell). Rolling a dice helps to move the figurines forward: one field for each dot shown on the upper side of the dice. Some of the fields have special meanings.
Our board has these icons on the fields:
- starting point = during the game an ordinary field with no special meaning
- at least one pausing point per side, represented by a hedgehog, a snail or a snowman (pausing for one round)
- roll the dice a second time, represented by a fox (1 – 2 times per side)
- moving 3 fields backward, represented by a hare or a rabbit (once per side)
- moving 3 fields forward, represented by a snow-ball, a bird or a squirrel (once per side)
- activity field represented by an owl (1 or 2 times per side)
- question field represented by a question mark (once per side)
- a Christmas tree is for fetching a gift from the pile and hand it over to the person named on the batch. Get a parcel without checking the name first. Take it, read the name on the batch and hand is over! (1 or 2 times per side).
The next person is allowed to roll the dice, not before the gift is completely unwrapped and everyone had the opportunity to see it.
The youngest kid is allowed to start with rolling the dice (or the oldest person or the one which first letter of the name cast first in the alphabet or the mother or the one with the highest number during a pre-round). Be creative!
The activity cards are put in two special fields in the inner part of the board with the text side turned down. They are parted in two piles: one for the question mark (more general questions = fact check) and one for the activity icon (more personal questions). The person which figurine arrives on an activity field gets a card from the pile, turns it around and reads it loud. Than, he or she has to follow the order on the card. Here are a few examples:
- sing a Christmas song (not mentioned earlier)
- play a Christmas song on your guitar, ukulele, violin, flute, … (not mentioned earlier)
- completing a given verse of a traditional Christmas song
- name a Christmas song containing a given lyrics line
- name 5 Christmas pop songs (not mentioned earlier)
- name 5 traditional Christmas songs (not mentioned earlier)
- recite a Christmas poem (not mentioned earlier)
- get someone a gift from the pile (in addition to the “Christmas tree” fields)
- name 5 Christmas movies (not mentioned earlier)
- remove all the paper from the ground and bring it to the correct bin
- read loud the Christmas Story from the Bible
- answer questions about the Christmas story
- your most favorite / worst Christmas gift ever
- ………. (this is to be filled by your own creativity)
When all activity cards are used, mix them and put them on their place again. Or, put each used card below the pile.
This way, everyone is able to see, what that person got and how she enjoys the gift. No-one is ready unpacking her pile of gifts too quickly and can pay each giver the necessary respect. It’s a family event instead of a single experience.
As you can see, the rules are very simple. Even a pre-school kid is able to follow the game. It’s fun, playing together and see the joy in each others eyes.
This is a good habit for our family, and maybe for you, too. Include the kids when preparing the game board and setting up the rules. Write the rules on the board. Decorate the board and the cards with Christmas related icons. Let each kid bring his or her favorite small figurine as her meeple.
We usually need about 1,5 to 2 hours for the game and the unpacking when having 5 player. It’s a lot of fun and very relaxing.
Now, you have 12 months to create you own game. I’d love the see your results. You can put your response in the comments below or create a blogpost on your own and leave me a back-ping.