Part 2: How to have Christmas together, when we can't be together
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Welcome to Part 2!
Thanks so much to everyone who got in touch following my recent blog with crowdsourced Christmas activities and ways that we can all connect over the Christmas season. There was too much to fit into one blog, so here's a second edition
(If you haven't seen the original blog, I'd suggest reading it first.)
A few of you asked for more recommendations for party games that can be played on zoom.
Hot Bell is absolutely brilliant and has had me crying with laughter before. It's played in teams of at least 3. Its a word association game, with a twist. I've attempted to describe it a few times, but it’s much simpler to understand if you just watch this short video. It can be played by the whole family and will be particularly good fun after a couple of glasses of sherry.
Trivia Maker is a platform which integrates with zoom and other video tools. It’s very simple to use and there are lots of existing games on there but, best of all, you can design and host your own trivia game
Minute to Win It games work brilliantly on zoom. MTWI games are quick-fire (one minute), competitive games which are very, very silly. They are perfect for Christmas and, brilliantly, unlike most of the other recommendations here, they aren’t really about the technology at all. A nice idea would be to prepare a games pack beforehand with all of the props needed and post everyone a party pack. Don’t explain what the items are for and part of the fun will be everyone working out what they need to use.
Here are a few games that would work well:
- Tip your head back and place a chocolate on your forehead. Using only your facial muscles try and get the chocolate into your mouth without it falling off. The first to do it wins.
- Try picking up 6 pieces of dry penne pasta using only a piece of uncooked spaghetti in your mouth. The most amount of pasta after a minute wins.
- Blow a feather across the table and into a cup. The quickest to do it wins.
- Wrap one member of your family up in toilet paper. The one with the most toilet paper on wins
- Wotsit challenge. This one requires a bit of set up but is making me laugh just thinking about it. Two people from each household play at a time. One wears a shower cap covered in shaving foam. The other throws Wotsits at them. The household with the most Wotsits after a minute wins. What could be simpler?
- You’ll need lollipop sticks for this one. Each player puts a lollipop stick in their mouth and tries to balance as many dice on it as possible. This one is great because half the fun is trying to make the player laugh.
A quick Google search on Minute To Win It games will give you a ton of other ideas.
Helping young children to connect with grandparents
One of the hardest parts of a socially distanced Christmas is grandchildren not being able to see grandparents. Here are some ways to help with that.
Our Home Story
Punchdrunk have designed this lovely ‘create at home’ experience for children aged 5-11. It’s been created for children to participate in with their parents or carers, but it has plenty of opportunity for online engagement with other relatives. This is a very gentle, beautiful and creative experience that teaches us to listen to stories of others, as well as create our own. This is not an experience to be rushed and there is a small amount of preparation beforehand.
The Curious Case of the Magboggle
Katy Balfour, who in a previous life was Associate Director at Punchdrunk, created this brilliant mystery kit a couple of years ago for Wonderbly (who produce the personalised books). It’s a magical offline experience which parents lead children through over the course of a day. Parents will receive a pack containing letters, intriguing instructions and crafty clues. A mysterious, mischievous creature called a Magboggle is on the loose – and it’s up to the child (or children) to cast a spell, to banish it. Whilst its designed to take place in the home, it would be very easy for older relatives to call in and help with certain puzzles, joining in on the search for the Magboggle.
£24.00 per kit
Ways to deepen your connections with family and friends
If you’re looking for a way to have meaningful conversations with family and friends, consider We Are Not Really Strangers. It’s a pack of cards, with poignant and purposeful questions on them designed to deepen your existing relationships. This is not a laugh a minute game, but a way to ensure that we can feel emotionally close, even if we can’t be physically close. There used to be a downloadable pdf on their website, but now you have to buy the physical pack - I imagine delivery will take a while, so maybe one for the new year.
$30 a pack
In 1997, psychologist Arthur Aron explored whether intimacy between two perfect strangers could be accelerated by having them ask each other 36 Personal Questions.
These questions can also be used to increase closeness and empathy between people. These questions aren't always easy, but they can be transformational, particularly if people are feeling isolated. They take about 45 minutes to complete and are best done between two people at a time.
More interactive games and experiences
Here are a few more recommendations that I couldn't fit in yesterday's blog
Morpheus are both theatre-makers and games designers and have three experiences available to book. You can join other audience members or book a private room for you and your friends. Their most well-known, ‘Undercover’, is billed as ‘the scariest show you’ll never see’ – because it’s delivered entirely on audio. Do not be fooled by the deliberately kitsch trailer, this experience very atmospheric and not for the fainthearted. This one is a bit pricier because the show features several actors and each show is created from scratch each night. The audience drives the action and has to make decisions as a group. Many people who've played it say that it's been a really connecting experience. Not one for young children or nervous elderly relatives who’d much rather be watching a nice bit of Jane Austen.
£39 per ticket
Escape from Mibo Island
This is a totally new type of escape room experience which just launched on 23rd December. Obviously, not many people have played it yet, but the team behind it are very well respected. 4-6 players explore a digital island generated social gaming platform. (It’s actually built on a video chat app called Mibo). The difference here is that your head is your headcam and you can actually see your teammates in the game. (A little Easter Egg for the hardcore escape roomers and gamers out there, the voice of the 'robotic host' is Nick Moran, from Time Run and Crystal Maze)
Special launch price €15 for the whole team
National Elf Service is a sort of online puzzle game, come online escape room, come interactive audiobook. It’s a great one for the whole family. You can either all play on the same device or you can play with people remotely whilst connecting on zoom. Can you and the other elves save Christmas and generate enough festive spirit?
£20 per game
More online performances
There are so many performances to choose from at the moment. Here are a few more following the recommendations yesterday.
The Shows Must Go On - Broadway and West End classics
YouTube Channel, The Shows Must Go On, show a variety of shows for 48 hour period. Previous shows include The Railway Children, Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. Kinky Boots is up next.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Panto doesn’t come more panto-y then 1980s Blue Peter presenter hosting a panto in his back garden. (oo-er) There are singalongs, song sheets to download and even a ‘How to Guide’ for panto beginners.
£25 a screen
A Christmas Carol
The Old Vic’s show is returning, after a successful run last year, but this time starting Andrew Lincoln. Last show is on 24th (get in quick)
The Mousehole Cat
Cousin Jack's gorgeous show combines puppetry, music and live performances. There’s only one live showing which is on 24th at 6 pm. I would highly recommend it.
Up to £20 per screen
Directed by Simon Harvey, who’s worked extensively with Kneehigh, this musical comedy from Near Ta Theatre is irreverent and full of festive fun.
You can rent it for £5.
Many thanks to everyone to contributed to both these blogs: