Connect with Family through Gameplay

Gameplay is a great way to connect with family this holiday season

By Matt Brown, member of SimplyFun's Play Advisory Council

With the Holiday season underway, there will be a lot of large parties and small get-togethers with family and friends. Grandparents and grandkids will be together, maybe for the only time this year. Old friends and new friends will meet each other for the first time. Co-workers and clients will attend holiday parties. All kinds of people you care about will be socializing…or at least that’s what we hope for.

Sometimes it’s not easy or natural for people to connect. Maybe it is age differences. Maybe it is cultural differences. Whatever the reason, a game is often just the right thing to get everyone engaging, talking, listening, smiling, laughing, and connecting.

Games at family gatherings are a great story telling activity

At a larger gathering, I’ll place games on a few tables. Even better is to have one or two set up and ready to play. Sometimes I’ll include other playful products like a puzzle, deck of cards, big box of crayons…whatever seems like fun for the gathering. When playing with children, I’ll ask them to pick the game or activity. With adults, I may kickstart the fun by playing the first few games with a variety of folks.

Pickles' Pig Tales story telling activity game by SimplyFun

Storytelling ideas and games are great when people are sitting together, perhaps at the dinner table or on the couch as the evening winds down. When I visit a friend’s house for small dinner parties, they always play “once upon a time” round robin. The first person makes up a sentence starting with “once upon a time.” The next person comes up with a second sentence. And so on. This story telling activity will build, go sideways, turn around, and usually end up in a cul-de-sac lot of laughter. SimplyFun offers a wonderful version of this story telling activity in a game called Pickles' Pig Tales. In this game, players weave fantastic and whimsical tales by working together to create the story one sentence at a time. Each player takes turns reciting the story and adding another sentence around the image on the card drawn. It's great for 2-5 players ages 6 & up.

Chat Rings by SimplyFun - Portable Icebreaker Game

Similarly, SimplyFun's Chat Rings are great storytelling ideas where everyone takes turns responding to the prompt or question, which inevitably leads to more questions, ideas, and discussion. This was a hit in our house when our daughter was younger. It especially helped us as parents by making it easier to open and engage in conversations that ranged from fun and silly to serious and important. If you're looking for storytelling ideas for early years, the Family Stories Chat Ring is a great option for ages 5 & up. For a storytelling activity for adults and older children, the Let's Chat! Chat Ring and Tween What If? Chat Ring are great options that offer questions that skew a bit older.

This season, we’re getting ready for holiday gatherings with family and friends from ages 10 to 90. We’ll play some classic games like charades, gin rummy, and crazy eights…and spend the weekend with Kilter on the coffee table. In past gatherings, Eye to Eye and Take Your Pick have been family favorites. Beyond the laughter and banter, it’s fun to learn about each other’s ideas, preferences, and imaginations. So, one or both of those will probably hit the dinner table.

Time Jumpers history strategy game for family game night

I’m excited to surprise everyone with SimplyFun's newest release, Time Jumpers! Not only is it a cool game for all ages, but I’m anticipating that it will spark a lot of story telling activity. I'll for sure be asking Grandma about what she remembers about any card from the 1940s-60s.

Happy Holidays and Play On!

For more storytelling ideas and fun icebreaker games, check out:

10 Icebreaker Questions for Family Gatherings!

The Best Group Games for Kids

You might also enjoy:

20 Unique Stocking Stuffer Games

Board Game Lovers Gift Guide

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