Help me come up with some games for my family's christmas gathering
December 3, 2008 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Help me host an awesome Christmas with games where my family competes to win the right to donate to the food bank.

I'm hosting my family's Christmas dinner/party/etc. this year. The person who's hosted it the past few years has run an awesome show and I don't want my Christmas to be a let down. And I want to do some good for the less fortunate. Help me come up with some ideas for achieving both goals. Ideas will generally be in the form of games.

The Players and Setting Me (30s), my mother (50s), my aunt (60s), three cousins and their two spouses (40s), cousins kids (7, 12, 16, 21), my boyfriend (30s), and a friend of the family (60s). We'll be in my one-bedroom apartment. The kitchen is not big enough for guest congregating. The other room is a the living/dining/office room which is medium-sized, and my bedroom which is an ok size.

Our Christmas Tradition/Past Christmases
We celebrate on Christmas eve and open our presents at midnight. So technically it's Christmas day. The dinner is potluck and we use paper plates so no one has to spend their Christmas cooking or fussing.

For the past several years, we've done gifts as follows: We each bring one gift of approximately $50 value. Then we randomly draw numbers. The first person to go picks a gift from the pile and opens it. The next person can take a gift from the pile or steal the first person's gift (first person chooses a new gift from the pile). The third person can take a gift from the pile or steal either of the two previous gifts, etc. It makes it hard to shop, but great fun to open the presents.

My New Spin
I'd like to incorporate some charity into Christmas this year, but I don't want to burden people given the current state of the economy. So I've asked each person to bring 3-5 items for the foodbank and will buy a bunch of food for the foodbank myself. But rather than just give the food to the foodbank, I'd like to organize some games wherein people (divided into two non-random evenly matched teams) compete to be the ones to donate the food. I'll have a box for each team. (Inspriation: baby shower where the goal of the games was to win small gifts purchased by the host to give the new parents). At the end the winning team will draw numbers first for gift opening (confers no actual advantage sine numbers are drawn's really competition for the same of competition).

Two ideas I have:
1. Jello-Box Jenga: Your team donates any jello box you successfully extract, if you topple the tower the other team donates what falls
2. Bowling by rolling cans at boxes of X. You donate what you knock over, other team donates the rest.

The Question at Long Last
I'm looking for a couple more game ideas. Some things to consider (in case the post isn't long enough):
1. I can set aside the bedroom for game set up.
2. Teams will have essentially equivalent members so that there wouldn't have to be any head-to-head situations where people were unevenly matched.
3. There will be rampant and shameless -- but good-spirited and friendly -- cheating.
4. I'd like games to incorporate the food, but not on any way that would make it unusable for the food bank.
5. I could buy any specific food required (e.g. jello), but bonus points for games that can use just about whatever food my family happens to bring.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Human Relations (8 answers total)
I'd advise against using the food itself for the games, mostly for the risk of damaging the product or the packaging. I don't know for sure, but I doubt the food bank would take a dented can (for example) for fear of food-borne illnesses therein.

Perhaps set aside the food donations in a nice, decorated box, and use it as a centerpiece for the evening. Use boring ol' regular games (like actual Jenga blocks), instead.

Twister, poker tournament, pictionary, or if you have access to a Wii with party games, might be better than having too much fun with the food and finding out you can no longer donate them.

I like your party idea! I'm just leery about the potential for unintended results that might dampen the spirit.
posted by CancerMan at 4:24 PM on December 3, 2008

My family loves to play Left-Right-Center. It involves dice, is fun because you're never out, and we range in ages from 3-75. Instead of using money or chips, you could use food items as the currency, and then put them in the "pot". Winner gets to deliver the "pot." You have to sit in the same order, but you could do it in a living room and roll dice in a box or on the floor. (Great idea, BTW)
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:25 PM on December 3, 2008

I'm with Cancerman. Having had to eat food from food banks, it's just another boogerflick from life to have to eat from packages that are all messed up. And having donated to food banks, I know that concerns about botulism frequently lead to dented cans being rejected. And if it doesn't, it should.

dpx.mfx's idea is a good one. You can do any betting game that way, setting whatever you have the most of as ante and going from there.
posted by batmonkey at 5:01 PM on December 3, 2008

Thanks, all so far.

I should be clearer that I am concerned with not damaging the food bank food or it's packaging. I've tested both my ideas to ensure it wouldn't (ok, I'm cheating by practicing the jello Jenga) and not even the corners of the boxes get dented up (they're just too light to dent when they fall). With the bowling the idea is to have the can sit on the ground and roll it just by pushing it, not by dropping it from any height at all.

Really in both these games, the food is going through less hardship than it did on my granny cart between the supermarket and my apartment.

On the board games, I'm hoping to keep the games relatively short (10-20 minutes each) and not necessarily require the undivided attention of everyone playing at any given time. And well...I don't know...we always have more participatory and made-up games at our family gatherings. Board games don't really fit the family culture (akin to organization culture) if that makes any sense. Think closer to the kind of games you might play at showers or kids birthday parties, but without involving brides or babies.

All that said, I'm open to games that don't involve the food. e.g. another thing we might do if the karaoke machine my cousin brings works without a TV is have singing duals where the winner gets to put food in their team's box.

Oh and the boxes will definitely be decorated and prominantly places, CancerMan. I imagine that surreptitiously transferring food from one box to another will be a major source of teh cheating.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:26 PM on December 3, 2008

It just occurred to me...I should make a pinata. How do I incorporate a (or multiple pinatas) into the donation thing?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:26 PM on December 3, 2008

Maybe you'd like Werewolves.
posted by zouhair at 6:59 PM on December 21, 2008

PS: this version is awesome.
posted by zouhair at 7:01 PM on December 21, 2008

posted by zouhair at 7:14 PM on December 21, 2008

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