I like to think that, in spite of all the commercialisation, all the outpourings of tacky television “specials” and all the over-indulgence, Christmas is still about just one thing – fierce competitiveness.
Perhaps, at that First Christmas, as they were approaching Bethlehem, weary after their long journey, one of the Three Wise Men turned to the others and said: “Tell you what, let’s race the last hundred metres.”
Gift Spotting. You all go out in a group on the morning of Christmas Day, look at the other people who are out for a walk and see how many presents you can identify. Win two points for a father wearing brand new gloves, three points for a scarf, four for a doll’s pram, five for a child’s new bike. A 10-point bonus if the child falls off the bike.
Roddicks. In this game, you remove the label from a Body Shop product, then sit in a circle and pass it round, taking turns to smear it on the soles of your feet, massage it into your ear lobes, dab it on your eyelids, rub it in your hair, then finally guess what it is actually for.
A bonus of 10 points if you can name the Senegalese tree from whose bark the essence is made. Fifteen more points if you can spell it.
Sniff the Soap. This is an old traditional game, believed to have originated in East Anglia as long ago as 1963. Players are blindfolded and pass round Christmas present bars of soap, trying to identify the scent.
Five-point bonus for gardenia. Three-point penalty for evening primrose. This game can also be played with bath salts, but don’t inhale too deeply.
Hunt the Sprout. It is believed that this game was introduced to this country by Prince Albert.
Find the Flange. An updated version of Hunt the Sprout. According to the rules laid down by the Flange Hunting Board of Control, there should be a minimum of 46 sheets of scrumpled up wrapping paper on the floor before the hunt begins.
For the children’s version it can be 23 sheets. Penalty of 20 points if you find Barbie’s left shoe.
Games of skill
Indoor Showjumping. Against the clock, each contestant has to go round the room and locate the Christmas card from Alison, Debbie, Dave and Jerry and All at the Woolwich. A penalty point is deducted for every card knocked over – two penalty points if the knocked over card has a Dove of Peace on it.
On a Roll. Each contestant is given a 15-metre roll of kitchen foil. The object is to see how much of it you can unroll before it splits down the middle. A point is awarded for every centimetre unrolled.
Film Buff’s Bluff. Each person in turn stands up and whistles the theme music of The Great Escape while juggling Brazil nuts. Points are awarded according to the number of nuts juggled. A penalty of 75 points for the Dambusters March.
Silly Syllables. Each player has to mime five good reasons why he or she doesn’t want to play charades. A 30-point penalty for over-acting and a 20-point bonus if you manage without using the “Rhymes with” gesture.
Read This First. You are given 15 minutes each to read the instruction booklet (in six languages) for the new piece of digital/electronic equipment. Then all you have to do is see how many Japanese expressions you can recite.
A bonus of 100 points if you can say in Japanese: “When wiring the plug it is essential that you attach the yellow and green wire to the correct terminal.” This can be trumped by any contestant who knows the Finnish for “Failure to do so could be fatal.” No points for this, but a warm round of applause.
A Word for It. See how many adjectives beginning with the letter H you can think of to describe Uncle Wilfred who is coming round later on for tea. The winner is the one who has the most number of adjectives nobody else has thought of.
No Answer to That. The organiser of this game reads out the riddles from all the crackers. A 75-point penalty for anybody who blurts out the right answer.
Mental Arithmetic. Multiply the number of videos of Bridget Jones’s Diary you have been given by the copies of the Jamie Oliver book you have received (minus the number of items of Harry Potter merchandise) then divide the total by the number of Ferrero Rocher chocolates you have eaten.
The contestant whose final total comes nearest to seven gets 15-point bonus. In this game, the Shrek video may be substituted. DVDs count double.
More physical games
Frisbee Fun. In these game, you all go into the garden and take it in turns to see how far you can throw the CD with Michael Jackson singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on it.
There is a 45-point bonus for the person who throws it when the dog from next door catches it and runs away with it. And a glorious 100 points to anyone who can get the CD stuck in the branches of a tree.
Who’s the Tooth Fairy? This is a really tough and rather unpleasant game, favoured by the brasher type of City trader and by Premier Division footballers when they return from the night-club.
You sit in a circle (again) and pass round a box of glace fruits, taking one fruit and eating it. A person drops out if he winces as the glace fruit homes in on a cavity in his tooth. The game goes on until only one person remains.
Peak Viewing. Strip all the branches off the Christmas tree, so that you are left with just the trunk. Lay it out with one end on top of the back of the sofa and the other on an armchair.
Now, two people sit astride the trunk and try to knock each other off, using only rolled-up copies of the Complete Christmas TV Guide.
How did you score?
- More than 1,000 points: it’s your turn to come to us next year.
- Between 500 and 1,000 points: the roads are looking a bit icy so John and Marion are going to have to stay the night.
- Up to 500 points: blizzards are forecast so John and Marion will have to stay till further notice.
- Minus 20 points: next time you really will just go off and stay in a hotel as you have always threatened.
Coming up next …
I’m away on my Christmas holidays from 20 December until 4 January. I’ve scheduled some seasonal postings to keep your Christmas spirit topped up (RJG take note!).
- 24 December – A list to end all lists
- 25 December – It’s still not too late to sign the Santa clause
- 01 January – 12 useful things for today
Happy Christmas to one and all, may your Yuletide be filled with warmth, happiness and good cheer.