Christmas is a great time to play family games while everyone is together. And of course board games and family time are not limited to the festive period, my family often play these on a Sunday gathering. The key factor for the best family games is the fun activities need to be age-appropriate for the guests to ensure maximum enjoyment.

These also make great Christmas gifts to be opened and enjoyed. The best games need to be fun for all ages and easy to learn or at least simplified. For this list I considered ease to set up, maximum players, how easy to tidy up, and how easy to lose key parts.

  1. Charades

This has been a Festive tradition for generations as no equipment is necessary, and often Christmas crackers have some ideas inside. It can be adapted for all ages and is very easy to do.

  1. Jenga

The simple wood game. Remove a block at your peril, place them on top with collapsing the tower.

  1. Perudo

Manufacturer recommended age: ‎8 years and up

Fun for: pre-teens, adults and teenagers

Complication level: Easy

Game speed: Fast

How many can play?

Maximum players: 2-6

The Peruvian game of Liar’s Dice is our family favourite for adults and teens. With the box comes six sets of 5 dice and cups, but in theory you can combine 2 boxes to increase the number of players. You could also us a tea mug and extra dice from elsewhere easily enough.

As it can be quite fast-paced and adrenaline fuelled, it’s quite entertaining to watch even if not participating.

How do you play?

The idea of the game is guessing how many of a number on the dice on the table. 1’s are wild, and it’s a case of maths and luck. You take turns going round and can either increase the number, or call someone a liar if you don’t think there are that many. If there are that amount or more, they win and you lose a die. If there weren’t as many as they said, then they lose a die. So each round results in one less die on the table, and if you lose all your dice you are out.

When it comes to your turn and the person before has called eight 5’s for example, one of the numbers must go up. So you can call eight 6’s, nine of something or call them a liar. The exception is as that ones are wild, they count for half as there will always be less.

So if there are 6 players you are starting with 30 dice, it could be anywhere from 0-30 of one number. Obviously statistically it’s very likely there is at least one, but the higher you go up the less likely it will become.

And that’s what makes it fun as sometimes there could be 20 and other times 10. You need to gauge based on your own hand and what others are calling confidently. And this brings bluffing into it, with confident calls and switching of numbers really coming into it’s own as the rounds go.

That is the game it’s simplest description but there are some additional rules, some of which make it a bit complex so can be optional. In my opinion the best games are those that have had the rules adapted anyway.

The official rules

Palifico

When a player is down to one die, they become Palifico, and ones are no longer wild. They call their number and it must stay on this. i.e you can’t change it from one 5 to one 6, you can only call two 5’s.

Calza (optional)

This is a shout by a player who is the current or previous turn, who believes the number called is exactly right. If successful, they win back one of their lost die. If wrong, they lose one. If called, neither player who’s turn it was is affected regardless of outcome.

Calling ones

As ones are effectively half value as they are also wild, you are able once per round to split the number and round up and call ones. So if it can round as three 6’s, you could call two ones. The next player could then call three ones or five of anything.

An easier rule could be to use ones to reset the count down lower, or to not play the rule at all.

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