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What's That In My Stocking?

There'll be a time when someone - usually a parent - will turn to you and gently suggest you 'stop having that Christmas stocking now, dear. Aren't you a little too old?' Your answer? 'WHERE WOULD ALL MY TEENY WEENY GAMES GO?! IF THEY WEREN'T KEPT SAFELY IN A LARGE SOCK THEN I'D LOSE THEM AMONGST THE WRAPPING PAPER AND THE CHAOS AND THEY'D BE GONE FOREVER AND YOU'RE NEVER TOO OLD. YOU'RE NEVER, EVER TOO OLD.' And then you'd rip off a chunk of turkey with your teeth - for effect - and declare the conversation over. But if that doesn't work, well - you can always show them this super helpful list of mini games. We recommend storing them in a cool, dry stocking.

Love Letter.

2-4 players, 20 minutes, age 10+

Deduction, luck, and working out who hasn't already had a pop - who says romance is dead!? The game comes in several versions including a box, but the little red velvet pouch is a true winner! Players must play their cards cleverly to deliver a love letter and win the heart of Princess Annette, the royal hottie. Some cards are more powerful than others, each with their own value and action. Using the cards in your own hand, can you work out which characters are out there in your opponents' hands and getting closer to the princess? Quick, quick! The closer you get, the more tiny tokens you'll receive and the closer you'll get to delivering your mail. And we all know she won't be able to resist your wordplay, you smooooth operator!


2-8 players, 15 minutes, age 8+

Tiny tins of trivia! The game's jam-packed full of knowledge, so make sure your brain is too! You'll start with a card that shows an event and the date it occurred. Using your cards (face down with no date showing), you have to guess whether the next event came before or after the first! The person to correctly use their cards is the champion and clearly has the biggest brain ever. Luckily the game caters to acquired tastes and comes in variants so if you're tired of beating everyone at Trivial Pursuit, you can try Timeline: General Interest. Fancy yourself as a hip-hop legend crossed with a film noir connoisseur? You'll bring the house down with Timeline: Music & Cinema! If you're a history buff that could tell me exactly how, why and when Henry the 8th's wives died (please don't) then try your luck at Timeline: Historical Events. Reckon toothpaste came after reading glasses? You need Timeline: Inventions! And for the scientific boffins among us, Timeline: Science & Discoveries is your calling. Each game can be played together too, if you really want to make your brain hurt!

Hive Pocket.

2 players, 20 minutes, age 9+

It's too cute, I can't handle it. Just looking at the game makes me want to emit some kind of alarming 'squee' - I'd hate myself for it but dammit, Hive Pocket is adorable! It's exactly the same as the original-sized version but it's tiny and therefore much, much better. Plus it includes the 'mosquito' and 'ladybug' expansions, so that's neat. Each of the mini-beasts on your pieces comes with their own movement; e.g. the Queen Bee only moves one space, the Beetle can slide on top of another piece and the grasshopper can jump forward over pieces in a straight line. Use these methods of moving - along with the other bugs - to your advantage, and think carefully and strategically about where to place your next piece. Like chess with creepy crawlies! The first player to surround the opponent's Queen is the winner, but the loser can console themselves by pressing the pieces gently against their cheek. It's weirdly soothing.

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