Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Family, Happy People

Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ideas. And sometimes, for some reason, these simple ideas don't occur to us, like taking a walk after dinner, putting fresh flowers on the table, spending an hour in the park, checking out a book from the library, or playing a game.

Rather than watch a movie after dinner, or go off to our separate activities, our family has started playing games. Our favorite game is nothing fancy, but it’s an absolute blast and a big hit every time we play. It’s called Happy Family. Fitting name, don’t you think? Here are the rules:

Give everyone at the table a pen and some scraps of paper. Place a bowl in the middle to collect answers. Also select a reader, but we’ll get to later.

Have everyone write down the name of a well-known person on a piece the scrap paper. The person could be anyone—a celebrity, a historical figure, a fictional character, a politician, an artist, an athlete, or even someone well-known only to the players, like a family pet.

Once everyone has anonymously placed his or her slip of paper in the bowl, the reader reads out the list of names through twice. Now here’s the tricky part: you have to try to guess the author behind each submission, but have to remember all of the names without writing anything down!

After the reader has finished, go around the circle and take turns guessing. Let’s say Sally, Sylvia, Mitch, and Alfie are playing Happy Family and the characters for the round are Marie Antoinette, Michael Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Mickey Mouse. Sally starts and asks, “Mitch, are you Mickey Mouse?” If she’s right, then Sally and Mitch become a Happy Family. Sally then tells Mitch whom she wrote down, and they get to guess again together as a family. The goal is to accrue as many family members as you can, and NOT to forget any of the submissions! Because even if you’re part of the biggest family but no one can remember the name of the remaining character, all of you lose that last unknown person wins!

Play as many rounds as you like. 

Because of all the whispering and close contact Happy Family calls for, everyone invariably ends up giggly and excited. It’s a perfect way to end a dinner party or get everyone feeling close at an extended family gathering. Here's a hint: the more players, the happier the family.

*photo of The Father Knows Best cast courtesy of Chronically Vintage

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