Projects for Christmas-weary adults?
November 30, 2009 1:43 AM   Subscribe

Monopoly and decorating cookies aren't interesting enough to woo my relatives away from their naps. What are some fun projects, challenges, and DIY kits the adults in my extended family can do together for entertainment over Christmas week?

I'll be spending Christmas with my extended family, which is mostly adults (teenagers through 60ish). We'd like some group activities for when the conversation lulls--preferably, fun things we can do together around a table, tasks that require some creativity or mental challenge. These can be individual tasks we all do at the same time, or things that require group effort.

Things we've enjoyed in the past (but that are getting old):
-carving pumpkins
-gingerbread and card houses, cookie decorating
-sculpting with clay
-working on logic and Microsoft Puzzle Challenge problems

I'd like some more ideas in this vein--things that take up enough mental effort that everyone has something to do if conversation lulls. Bonus points for anything mildly competitive (e.g. highest card tower) or producing a finalized product worth keeping or eating (this bunch likes puzzles and Make-style DIY kits).
posted by ollyolly to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

This is a DIY kit that ends up as an incredibly high-quality hi-fi amplifier, around 25W of tube-amplifier-like goodness, even pretty eco-friendly as it's around 90% energy-efficient: 41Hz Amp6-BASIC. $40 plus shipping. Also available as a preassembled board that you just have to case. It's very similar to the T-Amps you may remember, but definitely better sounding and higher quality. You can power these things with 12V batteries, playing loud for hours on a single charge. Amazing.

Disclaimer: I hang out at the 41Hz forum but I'm definitely not affiliated, I don't get a "referrer bonus" or discount or anything, I'm just in love with the sound of their amps.
posted by krilli at 2:03 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Making your own Christmas decorations?
posted by orange swan at 4:57 AM on November 30, 2009

krilli - awesome, unusual, outside-the-box idea! Do you have a favorite vendor in the United States for the Amp6-BASIC kit? Where does one go for something like this? Also, do you need to own a soldering iron to make it? Any estimate on the time it would take to construct it for a novice who hasn't soldered before?
posted by amtho at 5:26 AM on November 30, 2009

Response by poster: Good idea -- I'm not sure what type of ornaments we could make, but since we could use them every year it's worth a Google.
Maybe we could make themed nativity sets out of clay (e.g. "the Nativity XYZ-style"... that could get pleasingly irreverent!).
posted by ollyolly at 5:29 AM on November 30, 2009

Thanks amtho!

Actually, it's only this guy in Sweden that makes and sells this particular kit :) Shipping isn't too bad though. However, the chip in them is in different amplifiers, I think Sure Electronics has a presoldered board. I'm sure there are other kits. Try "tripath amplifier diy kit" in Google.

You'd need a soldering iron and some cutters and stuff - mr. Tangent has a good overview of tools generally needed for DIY audio. It's possible to do this type of stuff if you haven't soldered before, just watch some soldering tutorial videos on Youtube and use the right equipment. I do think that there are simpler kits out there - easier to build, but not as impressive as a whole amplifier. I'd recommend something but this is the only kit I have experience with.
posted by krilli at 5:31 AM on November 30, 2009

whoops, here's the link: Mr. Tangent has a good overview of tools generally needed for DIY audio.
posted by krilli at 5:32 AM on November 30, 2009

What about making cheese? I believe that soft cheeses can be made fairly quickly. It's also not too Christmas-y, which might be a nice break for your Christmas-weary relations.
posted by mmmbacon at 6:33 AM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]

Do you have access to any babies? A single toddler can entertain my entire family for hours.

But seriously, how about making tamales? If you really want a challenge, also make mole sauce from scratch for filling the tamales. I've done this with a group and everyone had a good time. Plus, tamales filled with chicken mole... mmm.
posted by rebeccabeagle at 6:46 AM on November 30, 2009

Everyone (well most everyone) likes a scavenger hunt. They are active, participatory, competitive and can be played by folks of all ages. Make up clues ahead of time (include simple to complete tasks as well as more complex ones*), divide into teams of 3 or 4, fun ensues.
posted by Pineapplicious at 7:01 AM on November 30, 2009

My kids and I recently got two Galileoscopes--kits to build your own fairly good telescopes--and enjoyed making them. Making and using a telescope could be a fun time (be sure to have a tripod handy).
posted by not that girl at 7:05 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here are a few links to games that support 4 or more players, from Boardgamegeek, which is a great source for info on games - browse around if anything here catches your eye.

Card games
Wizard or the similar Oh Hell (which uses a regular deck)

Party games (you probably have favorite party games already, Pictionary, Taboo, etc)/big group/betting
Apples to Apples
25 Words or Less
Wits and Wagers
Ricochet Robots (a brain-burning geometric puzzle)
Liar's Dice
Winner's Circle (horse racing)

Dexterity games
Pitch Car if you can find it
Horseshoes, bocce, beanbag toss, penny toss, card stacking, and a million others would be in this category.

Strategic board games suitable for beginners
Settlers of Catan
Ticket to Ride
Ta Yu
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:33 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Zendo is another one that might work well
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:37 PM on November 30, 2009

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