Holiday survival: Fun, free and easy family party games


The feast is over, the dishes done, the naps taken… and you still have days to spend with the family over the holiday. Now, you could listen to Uncle Jack get into another political argument with the cousins. But we have a better idea: Play some family games! You’ll create memories, bond a little, and with the ideas below, you won’t spend a penny.

Fun, free and easy family party games

If you grew up in a family that played games, you probably remember how to play the following classics. (If not, the links will give you a quick refresher.)

But here’s a list of other party games that are easy to learn, require few or no materials, and are sure to break the ice. We guarantee even your teenagers and crusty uncle will share the laughs!

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Who Am I

Fun, Free and Easy Family Party Games

Using sticky notes, everyone gets the name of a famous person put on their back or forehead. They can be real or fictional  — just make sure everyone playing knows each one. (Examples: Superman, Taylor Swift, Harry Potter, Tiger Woods). You could even have a holiday theme (Rudolph, Santa Claus, the Little Drummer Boy), or a Star Wars theme — be creative. Then work the room, asking only ‘Yes/No’ questions to try to learn who you are. You are only allowed to ask each person one question before moving on.

The player who can guess who they are with the fewest number of questions is the winner.

Best for 5 or more players, ages 6+.

Laughing Game

Sit in a circle around the table or on the floor. Go around taking turns to say only “Ha”, “Ho” or “Hee.’ Anyone who starts laughing for real is out of the game. (It’s harder than you think!) Keep going until everyone’s out. The person who can keep a straight face the longest wins.

Best for 4 or more players, ages 4+.

Wink Murder

One of the oldest party games known, the objective is to avoid getting killed and identify the murderer!


Fun, Free and Easy Family Party GamesPut folded paper into a hat, one per person, and mark one as MURDERER. (Or use playing cards and designate one such as the Ace of Clubs as the killer.)

  • Then mingle or sit around the table. The murderer ‘kills’ by looking you in the eye and winking! No one except the killer may wink, and the murderer must take care to not be seen winking. If killed, you must perform a dramatic death routine and fall down dead.
  • If you suspect the murderer, you announce ‘I accuse!’ without naming the suspect. The game pauses to see if someone else wants to ‘second’ the accusation. If so, the second person says: “I second it. I believe the killer is _____ ”
    The first accuser says either:
    “I agree, I believe it is ______ ” or “No, I do NOT agree with you” (without naming their suspect).
  • Then, the named suspect must answer Yes or No. If they are the Murderer, they’re caught and the round is over. If the accuser is wrong, he must die. If the accusation was seconded and one is wrong, BOTH accusing players must die a horrible death (even if one was right.)
  • The murderer wins if he can kill all the players before being caught. Half the fun is watching everyone’s death scenes!

Via Wikipedia: How to play Wink Murder
Best for 4 or more players, ages 5+.

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What Did You Learn Yesterday

This one is a great way to get to know everyone better–and it might even get your teenager talking!
Ask players to write down five things they learned yesterday, each on its own piece of paper. Collect up the notes, then each player takes turns to read one. Everyone now guesses who it belongs to (with the owner then sharing more info about the subject.) The person with the most correct guesses wins.

Best for 4 or more players, ages 6+.

Mad Libsâ„¢

Fun, Free and Easy Family Party Games

Mad Libsâ„¢ is a word game where one player prompts others for words to substitute for blanks in a pre-written short story, then reading the (hilarious and nonsensical) story aloud.

Beneath each blank in the Mad Lib is a particular type of word needed, such as ‘noun,’ ‘verb,’ ‘place’ or ‘part of the body’. The reader asks the other players to contribute a word for each blank, but without revealing the context for that word. Finally, the completed story is read.  It’s always a hoot. See an example at right.

Download the free Mad Libs app for Android or iPhone
Here are lots of printable Mad Libs
Here are some printable Christmas-themed versions.
Here are some printable Thanksgiving versions.

Via Wikipedia

Telephone Pictionary

This one is silly fun–an updated version of Telephone. Get a pad of paper and pens, and pack of sentences that you’ve written and cut into strips. Only you will have access to this pack. Examples:
The boy started crying when he let go of his balloon.
The horse looked angrily at the tractor entering the field.

  • Arrange everyone in a circle. The first person chooses a sentence from a hat, with 10 seconds to read it, then 20-30 seconds to draw it.
  • The sketchpad is passed to the next player, who must guess what they think the drawing is.
    They write down their sentence for this drawing on the next page, and they pass the pad to the next player.
  • The next player then draws that sentence on the next blank page…and so on.

Once the sketchpad reaches the last person, it should end on a drawing; if not, keep going until it does.
This person guesses what the original sentence is.

Best for 5 or more players, ages 6+.

Know any other great games your family loves to play? Leave a comment below!

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