Let's play

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My husband's family is big into game playing -- card games, board games, lawn games . . . you name it and they are interested in playing it. And even though my own family was not much for games, I can boast that I introduced the husband's competitive family to their all-time favorite family card game -- a game we call Oh Hell (or Oh Heck for the kiddies). I think if you added up all the hours we've spent playing Oh Hell, it might tally somewhere near six and a half months. That's a lot of card playing folks.

My point is that playing strategic or thought-provoking games with older kids is a great way to spend time together as a family. Heck, my kids' strategy skills can often run circles around my supposedly-educated 42 year old mind. There's nothing that boosts one's ego quite like having your twelve-year-old trick you into playing your trump cards too early. And when my ego gets bruised? SOMEONE'S GETTING GROUNDED.

A few years ago our family friends, the Pearsons, taught us a great big kid/adult game called Celebrity. It's fun, fast-paced, engenders some interesting conversations, and puts kids and adults on a fairly level playing field. It's great for big groups (like 10-25), and you'll learn a thing or two about teen culture to boot. Just you wait.

Here's how to play (well, our version anyway):

  1. Divide your group into two teams. You can number off, play boys vs. girls, or even kids vs. adults. [Note: the kids will likely be better at this so choose your team wisely.]
  2. Pass out strips of paper and pens. Have each player take three strips, write the name of one celebrity on each strip (living or dead, fictional or real), fold up the strip, and place it in a large bowl.
  3. Round one: Team One selects one player to pull strips from the bowl. The selected player gives clues to help her team members guess the celebrity. She can say anything EXCEPT for the name on the strip. Her turn lasts for one minute (use your iphone timer). She has ONE pass* (this is important). After her minute is up, count how many strips she and her team guessed correctly and score it on a piece of paper. (Don't put the strips back in the bowl.) Take turns between teams (rotate through the person giving the clues), guessing the names in one minute intervals until all of the strips have been used.
  4. Put all of the strips back in the bowl.
  5. Round two. This works exactly like round one: take turns between teams, each team gets one minute per turn, guess as many names as you can, score each turn, EXCEPT this round you can't use any words, ONLY actions. Like charades. 
  6. Once you've been through all the strips a second time, put them back in the bowl.
  7. Round three. This final round works like round one (as you might have guessed), EXCEPT the player up to bat can only say ONE WORD. That's it. They get one word, and the team has to guess the celebrity from ONE WORD ONLY. (We've had near family feuds when certain persons used terms like 'french fry' as one word -- when that is clearly TWO WORDS!!!!!!)

And that's it. The team with the most points/correct guesses at the end of three rounds is the winner. You'll learn a lot about what authors/singers/tv characters/world leaders your kids are thinking about. Plus, acting out Danny Tanner is just good fun no matter the age.

* A word on the "pass." Especially in the first round you might not recognize all of the "celebrities," particularly if someone is uncooperative and puts "ketchup" on one of their strips (ahem, Sterling). You get one pass. After that you might need to be creative. Resort to a "sounds like" or "looks like." And when someone tries to pass two in one turn . . . get really hysterical and start yelling about how the world is vastly unfair. That's totally allowed.

Any other fun games out there?