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Top 5 Family Christmas Games

family christmas feature

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a silly paper hat, a tint cheap gift, and a terrible joke. We buy them every year, and we are always thrilled to pull them. But what about games that come out onto the table every year that are actually fun and exciting? The antidote to the Monopoly monotony and Trivial Pursuit terror of old? Here at Zatu, we have come up with a list of 5 games that we know our friends and family will always want second helpings! Check out our Top 5 Family Christmas Games!

The Chameleon - Kirsty Hewitt

If I said “Kitchen” what is the first word that comes into your head?  Maybe “cooking” or “fridge". The Chameleon takes that standard word association and adds a bit more difficulty and a lot of fun.

Each round in The Chameleon you turn over a card that has a series of words related to one category e.g. rooms.  Every player is then dealt a decoder card which will tell players what the secret word is for this round.  But, one player doesn’t get a decoder - they are the Chameleon.

Once the word is known, all players take it in turns to say a word linked to the secret word.  The difficulty is saying something which is obvious enough to the other players that you know what the word is, but not something so obvious that you will give the Chameleon a clue what it is.  After everyone has said their word, the players debate who the Chameleon is.  If they are identified they have one chase to guess the secret word and escape. Otherwise, they are captured.

The Chameleon gives you the opportunity to unleash your inner lawyer as you accuse your family of bluffing their way through the round.  Or, if you are the Chameleon, it gives you a chance to put your acting skills (“who me?!”) to good use!

This is a perfect game for around Christmas time.  Easy enough for everyone to join in. Lighthearted enough to avoid anyone flipping the table whilst providing some great laughs.  And, at least in my family, a great length as we just play for as long as we want.  So, if you are after a cracker of a game for the festive season, why not give The Chameleon a go.

Kameloot - Favouritefoe

This was a new game for me this year. But having played it with husband, mini-meeple, mother-in-law, and friends, this is going to be a sure-fire after Christmas dinner hit year after year.

Set collecting with a traitorous twist, you are tavern members seeking to sell magical objects for the most money. But, whether you start the game as a Hooting Owl or a Black Cat, you’ll be swapping allegiances back and forth like a fair-weather fan. And this is because, if anybody in the same tavern as you completes a set of magical wands, rings, or even cloaks, you’ll be sharing in the lovely jubbly profits without having to lift a finger! But, quid pro quo my friends. If you can do that to others, then they can do the same unto you! And that is where the strategy starts to kick in.

Not only that, however, but you can use each other’s cards to complete the sets you’re building. So you could end up stealing from one player, and sharing profits with another. Or, if you time it right and sell when you’re the sole member, you get to keep all the coins for yourself!

Kameloot isn’t just about collecting and selling though. Instead of adding cards to your sets, you can use the magical powers each card type represents. For example, use a cloak and you can turn another player’s tavern token over, switching them from an Owl to a Cat.  If you can think ahead to your next turn or predict theirs, this is going to be a powerful way to manipulate gameplay for your own gain!

We really enjoy Kameloot. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s colourful. Not only that, but it’s an easily learned way to get back at those greedy Gertrudes who stole the last (or the biggest!) roast potatoes at Christmas dinner!

Herd Mentality - Hannah Blacknell

What's that one game that is guaranteed to come out every year and be a hoot with the whole family? For my family and friends during the many lockdowns, there was one stand out game. Herd Mentality from Big Potato Games. This is the only game that my Dad has ever asked to play. He famously does not enjoy games at all. Never has joined in. Yet for his birthday zoom celebration, he asked to play 'the purple cow game'.

Herd Mentality is my kind of quiz game,; there isn't a right answer to the questions. You are simply trying to fit in with the other players and not be the odd one out. Each time you give the same answer as the majority of the players then you are rewarded for your efforts with a cow point. If you ever give the odd one out answer that no one else gives then you get the pink cow. You can only lose this by someone else not thinking like the rest of the herd. Having the pink cow does not stop you from accruing points, but you cannot win the game with it in your possession.

This game works best when you're amongst a group of friends and family that you have known forever. You can think like the herd. For example; name a famous John? You need to know whether you fellow players will say John Lennon, John Major or John the Baptist! As you see, there is also ample opportunity for huge belly laughs and a good time. If you want something easy on the brain and full of fun, give this a spin!

Just One - Luke Pickles

A couple of years ago, my family suddenly had an interest in playing games. And by that, I of course mean that my mother realised that I had an interest in playing games and no one wanted to play with me. So I’d wander off on my own (I was 26, and fine with that, but hey, thanks Mum.) With a game being a nice family thing to do, she had a look online and found a game that seemed like something everyone would be willing to play. I promptly bought it and, come Christmas Day, opened up a nice yellow box and read the rules for Just One.

Just One is a cooperative game of word association and communication. One person picks a word on a card by saying a number between one and five. All other players then write down an associated word on their dry erase boards (or a piece of paper if there’s more than 7 of you). The guesser looks away, and the other words are compared. If any words match, they’re turned face down (for there can be only one!) The guesser turns back and looks at the words and makes a guess.

I really enjoy bringing this out at Christmas. It lets the various members of the extended family take part and you get to see how much you all think alike (or not as the case may be.) As an added challenge, can you tell which word I was thinking of when I took this picture?

Qwirkle - Craig Smith

Picture the scene: you’ve just woken up from your post-Christmas dinner nap. You’re an uncomfortable level of full, but someone has opened a box of chocolates. They suggest playing a game. The problem is they’ve suggested that a game that has hundreds of components, takes an hour to set up, and then even more time to explain. No, you definitely don’t want that in your post-dinner haze. If you’re like my family, you’ll always reach for Qwirkle instead.

Qwirkle was one of the very first additions to my collection. Each player has a hand of tiles that vary in colour and pattern. The aim of the game is to make rows consisting of all one pattern, or a collection of patterns from one colour. You score a point for each tile in the rows you’ve made. A full row of six is called a Qwirkle and is worth 12 points. The person with the highest score is the winner.

Qwirkle makes an appearance every Christmas day because of its ease. Ease to play, set up and calculate the scores. There’s also a lot more to the game that meets the eye. A lot of people compare Qwirkle to Scrabble, but other than placing tiles, I don’t really see any similarities. Qwirkle is more about set collection, risk management and trying to work out what your opponent’s hands. It’s a much lighter game on face value, but there’s a lot of crunchy decisions to be made in the game. It’s my family’s Christmas game of choice, and it could be yours too. And if you’re a family that spends time visiting family members on the big day, there’s also a travel version available