4 Family-Friendly Games for Thanksgiving

4 Family-Friendly Games for Thanksgiving

After I get the turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving, I like to kick back and relax, visit with my family and friends, play games and otherwise have a good time. Unfortunately not all of my family and friends are as much into games as I am. These 4 games, however, have proven excellent for both gamers and non-gamers alike. So you should be able to get them to the table without too much trouble.

Time’s Up! – Always a blast!

Time’s Up! is mine and Tim’s favorite party game. While I’m not very good at keeping up with famous people and often have no idea who some of the real and fictional people featured in the game are, I still love Time’s Up!

To begin the game, you’ll divide into teams, pull 40 cards featuring the names of famous people from the box and divvy them up among the players. That way, all players know at least a few of the names you’ll all be trying to guess. You’ll go thru the 40-card deck 3 times.

In the 1st Round, you can say anything! (Hint: it’s a good idea to use a gesture, too, if you can think of one.) Your teammates can guess repeatedly, but you can’t pass. Don’t worry if you don’t know who someone is, try to find other ways to get your team to figure it out.

At the end of Round 1, after all 40 names have been guessed, go through each card and make sure all players know who each person is before playing Round 2. So, yes, there’s a memory component to the game, too!

In some ways Round 2 is both easier and harder. Easier because you all know what names are in the deck. Harder, because in Round 2, you can only give a one-word clue and your teammates only get one guess. You can, however, gesture all you want, make sounds and even pass. It’s a good idea to put your Charades skills to work and watch the other team, too!

Because in Round 3, you can’t say any words at all. Just act it out! Your teammates only get one guess, and you can pass.

Time is ticking in this interactive, modern Charades-style game that plays best with teams and is loads of fun with groups of 4 or more players. Personally, I think 9 is the perfect number of players: 3 teams of 3. However, the first time I played Time’s Up! it was with just 4 players and I was hooked.

Dixit – Get insights into their psyche.

Dixit is sort of like Apples to Apples, but with pictures instead of words. The word “pictures” doesn’t begin to describe the breath-taking and sometimes mind-bending illustrations in Dixit.

The active player, aka Storyteller, chooses a picture card from her hand and places it facedown on the table while announcing a title for that picture. The other players each choose a card from their hand that also, hopefully, suits that title. The Storyteller then gathers the submissions up, shuffles them and turns each card face up.

Can you figure out which picture is the Storyteller’s? Use your intuition and knowledge of the Storyteller to identify the correct picture, while avoiding the other players’ traps (their pictures).

Dixit Memories

Dixit Memories

If the Storyteller’s title/picture combination is too obvious and easy, and everyone guesses which is the Storyteller’s card, you only score 2 points and the storyteller scores nothing. If the Storyteller’s title is too enigmatic and no one guesses correctly, you’ll all score 2 points and the Storyteller gets zero. However, if you’re among the few that guess correctly, you few and the Storyteller each earn 3 points. You’ll also earn an additional point for each vote your picture got. Ha! They fell into your trap!

That’s Dixit: a surprising, interactive and exhilarating game you can enjoy with your family and friends of all ages. It’s perfect for Thanksgiving.

The numerous expansions for Dixit keep this award-winning game fresh and interesting. The artwork is simply amazing! I’ve even heard of people using Dixit cards in their Mysterium games.

Codenames – Start it & everyone will want to join the fun.

In Codenames, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to discover the whereabouts of your fellow agents, by guessing their codenames. Players divide into two teams: red and blue. One player from each team is the Spymaster, giving clues to the whereabouts of her team’s field agents. It’s up to the rest of her team to guess the correct locations.

The Spymasters sit side by side with a 5 x5 grid – showing squares colored red, blue, beige and black – standing in front of them. Red and blue squares indicate the locations of each team’s field Agents, beige squares represent Bystanders and the black square the Assassin. Random word tiles are placed in a matching 5×5 grid on the table where all the players can see them in the same grid arrangement. Each word represents the location of a field Agent, Bystander or the Assassin.

Spymasters take turns giving a one-word clue, followed by a number indicating how many field Agent locations that clue applies to. Their teammates discuss possible answers – the Spymaster must not say anything or give any clue as to whether they’re on the right track at any time – that’s the hardest part about being Spymaster.

Codenames: XXL box size comparison

Codenames: XXL box size comparison

To make a guess, one person from the team touches the chosen word card. The Spymaster – without saying anything – then places a tile on top of the word card to indicate who is at that location: a Red Team Agent, a Blue Team Agent, a beige Bystander, or the black Assassin.

If the team found one of their Agents, they can guess another location. The maximum number of guesses a team is allowed each turn is the number the Spymaster gave after the clue plus one. Of course, a team can choose to pass at any time: they do not have to use all of their guesses. Should the team guess wrong and point to the location of a Bystander or one of their opponent’s Agents, their turn ends immediately. Should they point to the location of the Assassin, the game is over and they lose immediately. The first team to find all of their Agents wins.

Codenames: XXL card size comparison

Codenames: XXL card size comparison

Codenames is so popular, it now has many spin-offs, each with its own theme:

  • Codenames: XXL with its great big tiles. I love this one because you can read the tiles super easily and from a distance, which also makes it easier to play with even more people.
  • Codenames: Duet has two players or two teams working together, cooperatively, to locate their agents before time runs out. This one is definitely a fun and addictive challenge! Great option when there’s only the two of you to play.
  • Codenames: Harry Potter features the same great gameplay of Duet, but with pictures and words right out of the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Perfect for Harry Potter fans.
  • Codenames: Pictures with picture tiles instead of words. The pictures leave even more room for interpretation. You can even combine it with the original, alternating picture and word tiles in the grid.
  • Codenames: Disney has you hunting for Disney Treasures, that is, colorful picture tiles featuring famous Disney characters, items and places. Great for kids and Disney fans.
  • Codenames: Marvel has players competing as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Hydra in another Pictures game featuring iconic characters and items from the Marvel universe. Perfect for the Marvel aficionado.

Whenever we play Codenames, anyone not playing is invariably attracted and eventually joins in. At one gaming gathering, we started with 4 players and ended with 14! Codenames games are great for all ages and any number of players. Well, 4 or more if you want to compete. It’s a really fun game to play on Thanksgiving or anytime!

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective – Play it while lounging on the couch.

After you’ve set the table, where do you play games? Why kicking back in the living room of course! You don’t need a table to play Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. Just curl up in your favorite seats and solve a mystery together.

One person can read the mystery, another should take notes. There are some newspapers you’ll want to pass around for everyone to read and a map to consult. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of coming to a consensus as to where to investigate first, discussing the case and trying to discover whodunit.

When you think you’ve got it, you can compare your results with the famous Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective - Thames Murder and Other Cases components

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective – Thames Murder and Other Cases components

Each Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective game includes 10 or more mysteries to solve. Whether you interest lies in investigating The Thames Murders & Other Cases, Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures or Carlton House & Queen’s Park, there are plenty of crimes to keep you busy.

Playtime runs about an hour. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is fun for the whole family. If you like murder mysteries, you’ll love this game.

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective games

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective games

So, there you have it: four family-friendly games you should be able to get to the table on Thanksgiving. Happy Turkey Day!


Copyright © 2018 by Tina G. McDuffie. All rights reserved.
Photo rights retained by their respective copyright holders.

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