Post-Thanksgiving Family Entertainment
October 14, 2014 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Last year after Thanksgiving dinner, my little 9 year old niece and I decided to entertain the family with two activities. All in all, a huge hit, everyone laughed til they peed, there was major family bonding going on, and OMG, how do we top that this year?

First we made everyone write down a fun or secret fact about themselves. We took turns guessing who said what (who knew my 84 year old mom was a gang leader?), and if you were right, you got to pick a wrapped gift (hilarious dollar store purchases that ranged from a bag of aquarium rocks to a hot pink troll doll pencil to travel-sized tube of toothpaste). Then we herded everyone to the basement, turned off the lights, and surprised everyone - we'd taped glow sticks to our black clothing like Burning Man skeleton stick figures and danced crazily to a song.

These have to be activities or games that can be organized or done by a kid and an adult. We have only a few days between me flying in the actual Thanksgiving dinner.

The age range of our family is 10 to 85. We will have at least 10-15 people there.

We want at least one activity that EVERYONE can participate in - that's what made our first "guess who" game so much fun, especially since some of us live far away and this is the one time every year we are all together. I love that we are doing this family bonding, especially now as my parents are getting on. When I saw the joy in their faces that night, seeing us all together and laughing -- that made me want to do this again.

Any other suggestions of how to kill the evening after a big Thanksgiving meal and do some family bonding?
posted by HeyAllie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It sounds like you guys would love the game Exquisite Corpse/Interpretations/Telephone Pictionary.

Everyone gets in a circle. Each person starts off with a piece of paper, on which they write a sentence. (It can be anything - quote, proverb, song lyric, or just a random description.)
The paper is passed to the person next to you, who then does their best to illustrate that sentence. They fold the top of the paper backwards so that the sentence is no longer visible and pass it to the next person.
Next person writes a sentence describing the picture that they see.

And so on.

I've played this with some very varied groups of people and it has always ended in hysterical laughter.
posted by capricorn at 12:56 PM on October 14, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: It's less talky-dancy interactive, but it's something that's really fun with a large group: broken picture telephone.

Everyone starts out with a piece of paper on which they write a sentence. Can be something like "A horse runs in a meadow." Then they pass the paper to the person next to them and that person has to draw a picture of what the sentence says. Then the first sentence gets folded over and passed to the next person, and the next person has to write a sentence based only on the picture. And so on until everyone has contributed to every piece of paper. It's so much fun to read the final sentences and try to figure out how in the heck they got to there from the original statement, and the pictures are always amazing.
posted by phunniemee at 12:56 PM on October 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


My family has also had great success playing Catchphrase.
posted by phunniemee at 12:57 PM on October 14, 2014

Games of mafia (aka werewolf) work shockingly well for big family gatherings.
posted by shivohum at 12:59 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

We've done Celebrity before, usually goes down well. Each person writes down 3 or so famous names, you'll want 30 or so total, and thows them in a hat. Keep them general enough so that everyone can guess. Divide into two teams. One player at a time has the hat, and tries to get their team to guess as many names as possible in 30 seconds; you discard the names as they're guessed. There are three rounds of progressing difficulty --- first round, you can say anything you want to describe the person besides their name itself. Second round, you can only give one word for a clue for that person --- you can pronounce the word any way you like, but once you pick it you're stuck until it's guessed. Third round charades. You use the same names for all three rounds, so that if say Robin Williams was in round one, you can use "mork" or "jumanji" for him for the second round.

It's the charade round where things tend to get silly. Also, a great deal of the time one team will get absolutely stuck on one where everyone on the other team seems to have groked it.
posted by Diablevert at 1:02 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

capricorn: "It sounds like you guys would love the game Exquisite Corpse/Interpretations/Telephone Pictionary."

It's even more fun if you refer to it by its coprophagic name. I came in to suggest this same thing. We just played it last week with 5 people, and it was fantastic. It would be exponentially better with 15.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:03 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

My extended family got into cuthroat penny poker games after Thanksgiving, and that went on for fifteen solid years. (One of my absolute favorite stories about my grandmother is about the year she was wearing a sling because she'd recently cracked a bone in her wrist, and when we were setting up for the game my father caught her stealing Aces out of the deck and hiding them in it.)

This is a more kid-friendly game, although it doesn't have as much of an active component: there was a "board game" version of this, although all you really need is a dictionary. Each person takes turns picking an obscure word out of the dictionary, and they read just the word; then everyone else writes down what they THINK the definition is, and the person with the dictionary writes down the actual definition. Then you pass all the definitions to the person with the dictionary, and they read each one aloud and people vote on what they think the definition actually is. Each player gets a point for however many people voted for "their' definition, and if someone writes down the actual definition they also get a point. Then the next person gets a turn with the next word.

Since there's 15 of you, of varying ages, you may wanna go in teams or pairs just for saving time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:37 PM on October 14, 2014

Last Christmas my similar-age niece wrote a play - just a couple pages of dialog. There were costumes to design and create - mostly masks made out of paper plates. About half of the guests were given parts to read during the performance and the proceedings were video taped. The guests that wanted to also had the option to play instruments. Basically it was a ridiculously funny creative activity that people could watch or participate in, and then the video got shared on Facebook for those who missed it.
posted by bendy at 1:39 PM on October 14, 2014

When I was a kid, my family declared a moratorium on TV (unless LSU or the Saints were part of the football situation) and instead had family game night. So much fun. As Empress mentions, they were always hilariously cutthroat. In fact, years before Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, I invented the "Is that your FINAL answer?" tactic for Thanksgiving trivial pursuit games.

I also learned to play poker and other grownup card games in this sort of setting, as a kid.

Mafia/Werewolf was a hit at Orphans' Thanksgiving in my 20s with friends. Could work for you guys as well.
posted by Sara C. at 1:56 PM on October 14, 2014

Play Trivial Charades! If you have an old Trivial Pursuits game hanging around you can turn it into a charades game. Divide into teams. Each team member takes a turn. They pull a card from the box and they can choose any answer from the card that they want. They announce the color and that's the pie piece being played for. They act out the answer, set a timer for maybe 2-3 min, in typical charades fashion. If their team guesses right then their team gets a pie piece. First team with all six wins!

To make it go faster, if the team cannot guess correctly, the other team has a chance to "steal" -- if they make the correct guess after the 3 min is up, they get the pie piece. If it's one they don't need...too bad!
posted by amanda at 2:22 PM on October 14, 2014

Best answer: We've started a new tradition of playing the post-it note game at Christmas. Each person writes the name of a famous person (dead or alive, fictional or real) on a post-it and sticks it on the forehead of the person next to them. You then go round and round with each person trying to guess who they are using closed questions (e.g. Am I a man? am I a musician? am I a 20th century dictator?) - hilarity ensues. You get to keep guessing while you're on yeses, but pass once you get a 'no'.
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 2:32 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Two truths and a lie?

An old-fashioned scavenger hunt? You could divide up into teams mixing adults and children and make the neighborhood fair game. Trust me, you haven't tested the limits of neighborliness until you've rung your next-door neighbor's doorbell and asked them if they have ten dried beans or a dead fly. Give a time limit (one hour? Two?) and whichever team has the most items collected in that time wins a prize.

Another game I like to play is similar to your game above of having people write facts about themselves. Instead of facts, write three questions each and put them in a hat. Take turns drawing out a question and answering. That's it. Sounds simple, but it's super fun. I've heard amazing stories from people answering questions like, "What was the best pet you ever had?" "What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?" "If you could pick one super power, what would it be?" and so on.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 4:55 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

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