The best games to play with your dysfunctional family over Christmas

Amelia Franklin

Amelia Franklin

Festival-goer and horror movie fanatic | Amelia has earned the title 'Queen of the Listicle' | She's an account executive at Cohesive | [ she/her ]

Christmas is going to be a little different this year. There may be less of you round the dinner table and your favourite pub may be closed, so if you and your family are looking for fun ways to pass the time then I’ve got you covered.

Here’s my list of the 12 best games to play with your dysfunctional family (but they get more and more questionable as the list goes on).

1. Articulate

articulate game

Everyone I’ve met that’s played this game, plays it differently. Has anyone actually read the rules? I know I haven’t.

The aim of the game is to describe words without saying them. Some of the words can be quite tricky if you’re on the younger side, especially in the ‘world’ and ‘people’ categories but bending the rules to allow for passes should mean that everyone gets a fair shot.

If you want to lounge in the living room after your Christmas lunch, drop the board and just play with the cards. Guaranteed to bring you lots of laughs (and perhaps a few arguments).

2. Trivial Pursuit

trivial pursuit

If you like general knowledge and a bit of a challenge, Trivial Pursuit is the game for you. Never the source of big laughs but good fun if you like being reminded that you’re not as clever as you think you are.

There are endless versions of this game depending on what you enjoy – growing up, Disney Trivial Pursuit was my jam but the classic version is just as entertaining.

Top tip – make sure you pick up a modern version of Trivial Pursuit. Instead of questions about some now obscure 60s television show, the new version is much more current.

3. Pictionary


A bit like Articulate but with drawing instead of describing. You don’t have to be a budding artist to enjoy this game – it’s actually more fun if you’re all crap at it.

Suitable for adults and kids but if you want to make it rude then you certainly can. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game without referencing Will Poulter’s rendition of a skateboard in We’re the Millers.

4. Balderdash

balderdash game

One of my uni housemates owned Balderdash and decided to get it out at pre-drinks. None of us had ever played before but we agreed to one quick game. 4 hours, far too much alcohol and a decreasing ability to write later we never made it out the door because we were having such fun.

Players take turns picking a card and reading out a word from one of the categories. The rest of the players then write down a made up definition of the word. All the answers are read out and the players each pick which definition they think is right. If you pick the actual definition you get a point but you also get points if someone thinks your definition is the correct one. Sounds complicated and a bit boring – it isn’t.

You need to be fairly creative, good with words, and being a convincing liar helps too! If you want to have the kind of belly laughs that will make you smile long after the turkey is finished and Christmas is over, buy this game.

5. Bananagrams


A faster, sillier version of Scrabble. No board, just a big spill of letters in a cloth case shaped like a banana. Its big advantage over other board games is there’s no boring waiting for your turn.

Everyone plays together, and it can get very competitive fast. Easy to tailor for different family groups – Granny can play it with a ten year old, teenagers can be tempted to join for a game or two.

Pretty much every game I’ve ever played always ends up in a round made up entirely of rude words. Not essential. But it is funny.

6. Monopoly (but it has to be the Newport edition)

monopoly newport edition

Why do you have to buy the Newport version of Monopoly? Well, because it’s funny. It’s all the usual fun of the game but with added Welsh-ness, what’s not to love?

In all seriousness though, you can’t have a good dysfunctional family Christmas without the chaos that a game of Monopoly brings. It’s slow, frustrating and it brings out the absolute worst in everyone. You know it will all end in tears, but that’s part of the appeal.

7. Pass the Pigs

pass the pigs

Who doesn’t want to play a game where the scorekeeper is called the ‘Swineherd’? The premise of Pass the Pig is pretty simple: you roll pigs and get points according to how they land – first to 100 points wins.

As with most on this list, if you want to add a bit of Christmas spice, you can turn this into a drinking game, for example by taking a drink (or shot if you’re feeling extra spicy) every time a player loses points by rolling a ‘pig out’ or a ‘makin’ bacon’.

Overall, a fun yet surprisingly stressful game of throwing miniature pigs for the whole family to enjoy. You may not be left with friends, but let me tell you, you will be left with pride.

8. Who am I?

who am i guessing game

If you think Who Am I? is just an innocent guessing game then you’ve never played with the right people.

Write a famous person on a post-in-note and stick it to someone else’s head. The more obscure, the better. Then watch the frustration build as no one can guess their celebrity.

Don’t be afraid to get creative – last time I played, I was Dawn the Apprentice jockey from that one 2007 X Factor audition, my mum was Barry B. Benson from Bee Movie and my dad was Harold Shipman.

9. Ring of Fire (or Kings)

ring of fire

Most of the above games on this list can be tweaked to involve alcohol, but we’re now into pure drinking game territory.

Ring of Fire, also known as Kings is popular with uni students as a game to play before nights out. A pack of cards is put face down in a circle round an empty glass. Each card has a different rule; 8 is mate (choose a player to drink with you), 6 is dicks (all the men drink), and players take turns picking a card.

If you want to get sloshed with your family this will get the job done.

10. Roulette (no, not the Russian kind…)

shot roulette

No skill, just pure drinking.

Shot Roulette, or Drinking Roulette comes with 16 shot glasses, a roulette wheel and a ball. Spin the wheel and if it lands against your bet, you take a shot.

A great shout if you want to see your nan sink some tequila.

11. Never Have I Ever

never have i ever

Very simply premise – each player takes turns saying something they’ve never done. If any players have done it, they drink.

There’s a card version of this game but you needn’t waste your money. Much more entertaining if you think of very embarrassing things your family and friends have done and say them out loud to the whole group.

No ones secrets are safe. Play at your own risk.

12. Cards Against Humanity

cards against humanity

Describes itself as a ‘party game for horrible people. Unlike most of the party games you’ve played before, Cards Against Humanity is as despicable and awkward as you and your friends’

The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card.

Comes with a big warning. Play it with your dysfunctional family at your own risk. It will get your Mum saying words you can never unhear. Your grown up kids will say things which make you wonder where you went so wrong. Not recommended for normal families.

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