Of all the compulsory ‘hours’ we have instigated since the beginning of lockdown – PE Hour, Reading Hour, Cocktail Hour (actually we haven’t introduced this … at least not officially) – Games Hour has proved the most popular. We asked friends and family for their favourite games and have rediscovered classics and been introduced to new gems. Most rules are found online; where not, we have included.
Interactive Games for four or more
We first started playing this on family holidays when everyone is in one place for a period of time. Each player writes down the name of a room in the house and puts it in a bowl; in another bowl they write down an item in the house (it can be anything from a wooden spoon to a cup of coffee); in a third bowl are all the names of the participants. Players pick one from each bowl so everyone has a person to kill, the murder weapon and place of crime. Over the course of an evening (24 hours or longer), people are killed off with the murderer in each instance taking over their kill’s job. So for instance, I kill Josh with a toothbrush in the loft. Josh is now out of the game and I take on his kill/place. The last man standing wins. For harmony’s sake, obviously no one in their right mind would knock off the youngest too early in the proceedings.
Murder Mystery Night
Raid the dressing up box and get fully into character.
Come Dine with Me
Each night of the week each person makes a three course meal, which everyone then scores out of ten. Taste is just 50% of the consideration – presentation and ambience also come into it. Feedback is the best part (please nothing as cruel as Peter Marsh’s tirade – Google it).
If anyone is in need of a pick me up, this is surely it. Set up a rhythm by clapping your hand or slapping thighs. The first person starts a category and everyone has to follow suit. If the category is vegetables it would go: clap, clap , clap, clap, potato … next person …. clap, clap, clap courgette etc. If you’re all a bit stumped for new ideas, get a Categories card game with over 160 different categories to play with.
The Chocolate Game
This might be good for after Easter Day when there is a surfeit of chocolate. Hats, scarves and gloves and knife and fork only – take it in turns to throw the dice. Whoever rolls double 6 tries to cut and eat as much chocolate as possible in one minute.
Make a list of household objects scattered throughout the house. Each person (or team) needs to collect five items. The first to bring back the objects wins.
Remember playing this at parties when you were six years old? When the music stops, you have to find a seat – one fewer place to sit each go.
Names in a Hat
Lots of names in a hat; split into two teams. Guess as many names as possible in a minute. First round you can say as many words as you like except the actual name; second time you can only say one word; third and final round you have to act.
Similar to the who’s who guessing game but each time someone is guessed they join your ‘empire’.
There are so many brilliant card games; here are just a few to play time and time again.
Sunshine (2 or more players)
This is a firm family favourite. Deal three cards face down in row to each player and on top place another three cards face up. In addition, deal three cards to each person. Objective is to be the first to lose all their cards by places the same or higher value cards. Player with lowest card starts – each player must pick up a card after each go so you always have three cards until they run out. If you play, you pick up the whole pile. Aces are high. 10s are wild: they swipe the pile and also give you another go (after you’ve picked up so you have three cards in your hand). 2s can be played on any card. Playing a 7 means the next person has to play a card 7 or below. You can play multiple cards of the same number (if you have four cards or make up four cards of the same number you can swipe the cards and have another go (just like playing a 10).
Cambio (2 or more players)
Beware: this requires concentration and memory skills.
Racing Demon (2 or more players; the more the merrier)
Like solitaire but with lots of people vying for each deck of cards.
Hearts (3 or more players)
Whist with a twist; one of the best games ever.
Great games than never date
Battleships: The ultimate strategy game.
Boggle: You don’t need to be whizz at English to love this.
Scrabble: For die-hard word enthusiasts.
Bananagrams: A bit like Scrabble for those without the patience
Dominos: What can beat this. Lovely to play inter-generationally.
Buckaroo: How many items can you load onto the mule before he bucks?
Rummikub: A mix between Scrabble and Rummy.
Mastermind: This is an ace game for 2 players
Catan: A great game for the whole family (although we would say it is definitely for kids aged 10 and up). Do get the extensions available if you are 5 people or more.
Werewolf: A really fun way to get to know people or just play within the family. People’s true characters really do reveal themselves!
Risk: You’re in it for the long haul so bring plenty of competitive spirit.
And finally Jacks, remember them in a little bag. Play on your own or in a match.
Cards Against Humanity: Family edition – Some of you may be familiar with the adult version of this, which I think is gratutiously crude. This Family edition however is a real delight. It’s not published until September but you can download an edited version of it here and make your own set.
Linkee – Fab trivia game.
Tension – Timers, trivia and tension!
Cheat’s Monopoly – A fun take on the familiar game.
Wordsmithery – This is a great new game. Guess the meaning of words that everyone pretends to know…but doesn’t. Best for teenagers and adults.
Games to play on your own
Hours of absorption. Play with real cards; not online.
Games on your phone
I hate all phone games apart from Psych! Devised by Ellen de Generes. Choose from a variety of categories such as Football, Poetry, Cooking …. Players make up fake answers to real trivia questions. Our 12 -year-old twins love playing with their friends.
This is a last resort game but quite fun all the same. We recently drank the Roxanne song by Police (you have to drink each time Roxanne is mentioned … it’s quite a few times) but you can play with the Bond movies (each time a Bond or a gadget is mentioned) and many more. Fizzy drinks work as well as wine.