Survival Game Guide: The 12 Hours of Christmas
So, Christmas day looks like it's going to be your busiest day of the year - and you were planning on sitting on a bed of Quality Street wrappers and dozing off in front of The Royle Family! Now your aunts, uncles, friends, partner's relatives and everyone down to the dog is expecting some kind of 'party appearance' from you, and they'll probably want gifts as well! Oh, the horror!
Thank Rudolph there's a way out. One way to put a smile on somebody's face (other than serving them an endless supply of pigs in blankets) is to give them the gift of a game - so that's what you'll do! Break out a new game every hour on Christmas day - it's 12 overall, but you can do it! - and distract them all with 'fun'! That way, you've got time to get on with the turkey, or the wine, or a heavy combination of both. Result.
A sleepy morning start, but possibly the most stressful, with presents to give, presents to receive, presents to forget you've hidden somewhere until April. Slow your roll with Librium, the party game of building a structure until ensuing chaos hits! Pop it in the middle of the room and the whole family can take turns slotting a card on in between opening presents.
10am: In A Bind
Oh, heck - the extended family have started to arrive and they want to 'catch up' and tell you every single thing that's happened since last Christmas! Divert their attention with In A Bind, the party game that turns people into pretzels. They can't corner you when their limbs are all locked up and twisted inside out.
You're starting to nibble at the dinner, and that can only end in disaster... Not only that, but every Aunt and Uncle is flapping around in the kitchen and offering to help - plonk them in front of Pandemic. They can help save the world from a spreading virus, and you can finish basting the turkey. Yum.
It's food time, and disaster might strike; you forgot to cook enough pigs in blankets. The kids are on the verge of tears and the adults aren't much better. Take their minds off it with a super-speedy game of matching symbols with Dobble. You can't be sad when you play Dobble!
Ugghfdhhfhhghghh. It's 'sit around watching Only Fools & Horses while you regret how much you ate' time! You need something to take your mind off it. Something peaceful, lovely, and calm. Something... like Dixit. Stare at the cards and feel the 'zen' take over with a family board game full of gentle creativity and guesswork.
More family?! There they are at the doorstep, demanding turkey sandwiches and a space on the sofa, squabbling for an endless supply of wine... Lob a copy of Spyfall into the room and run! Players have to guess who's the spy, and the spy has to guess their current location from listening to clues. The questions (and the thinking) will keep the family occupied until...
...Christmas pudding time! You've all woken up a bit, and you've got time before tonight's shindig starts swinging, so crack open Mysterium, and start solving the mystery of an untimely death. The only way to do a seance is with the whole family!
The classic films are back on TV, just like every year! Bedknobs & Broomsticks, Mary Poppins, every single Harry Potter film in a row... Unfortunately, you've all seen them a million times, and no one's bothering to concentrate - give the family a puzzle to peruse with Bridget, a wooden classic in itself and a real-life Tetris!
Hell's teeth! The vol-au-vents were supposed to go in an hour ago! You've got some lightning-fast party prep to do, and a whole room of guests to keep entertained... Keep them content with Concept, the board game version of charades! Players must guess the phrase or object from the icons and symbols you've chosen to point out. It's a thinker!
Concept ended with Aunt Linda smashing Uncle Gary in the face with her shoe, so it's time for something chilled out to soften the mood, and you've just got the thing! Takenoko is a family game for cultivating a bamboo garden while keeping a sweet (but frustrating) little panda happily fed. Ahhhh, zen.
It's the Sherlock Christmas special! AHHHHHH, MORIARTY AND SHERLOCK AND JOHN! Celebrate Benedict Cumberbatch's weirdly-fixating alien face by playing Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and solving the crimes yourselves!
8pm: Bucket of Doom
A smidge of festive glitter and your snazziest Christmas jumper - you're almost ready for the party! More guests have turned up, and - and more guests, and more guests, and... Why is everyone you know standing in your hallway?! Okay, breathe, relax. The party's a little bigger than you anticipated, but with Bucket of Doom, the death-dodging party game of crazy escape plans, you can have a million players (or more!).
9pm: Every single game at once!
'Tis the last hour of your ordeal, my friend. You've come so far, and survived the busiest, craziest Christmas with the help of trusty board games. Everyone has stayed occupied and you have been allowed to get on with making it all happen - the food, the party, the ten bottles of sherry. All that's left to do now is set up every game on all the tables, hand out the alcohol, let your hair down, and enjoy the party (or sleep from exhaustion on the sofa). It's your day too, after all!