The Very Merry Christmas Game
Review by Andy, Claire, Amelia (11) and Charlie (9) Paye
What better game to get you in the mood for Christmas than one in which you can offload dodgy presents onto unsuspecting (well, in this case, very suspecting) fellow players, ‘pull a cracker’ with your companions and even sing some Christmas songs? Yes, this game may be one you’re unlikely to play in the heat/drizzle of summer, but it’s a great way to get the festive season under way.
The Very Merry Christmas Game may not quite capture the spirit of Christmas – the winner is the one with the highest value presents – but it is quick to set up, simple to understand and entertaining to play, thereby offering the possibility of diffusing actual rows over who has the best present. You move round the board taking the opportunity to peak in someone’s stocking, re-gift an unwanted present or nab a preferred present from another player. Along the way you are challenged to sing a Christmas song, which is where arguments may break out as it is up to the other players to assess whether you have sung enough to warrant not losing a present. Wearing the cracker hat gives you immunity from having to sing, which makes it very attractive to some. You also have to decide whether to hang onto your one sprout card, which could lose you the game, in the hope of picking up a second, which can help you win.
The Very Merry Christmas Game can be played by 2-4 players. The instructions suggest you can play in teams if there are more of you. The major problem for Charlie and Amelia was keeping a poker face as they picked up presents or looked at each other’s presents. It was pretty clear not only who had a bad present, but where on the stocking it was, making it easier for those of us more used to dissimulation to avoid that present when swapping with our own. Still, with practice they will probably be able to fool us, not that I’m sure I’d like to encourage such behaviour. This requirement to keep the quality of your presents secret and the need for a certain amount of strategy to ensure that your present collection is better than anyone else’s warrants the ages 8 to adult category, but younger players could play with older ones on their team and enjoy it.
The ability to donate one of your unwanted presents to one of the other players may lead to a certain subtle settling of scores but the desire to win takes over, ensuring you donate your rubbish presents to anyone who seems to be doing well.
The Very Merry Christmas Game is fun to play with turns coming round quite quickly. I balked initially at the references to ‘naff’ ‘prezzies’ in the description of the game on the back of the box but we all enjoyed playing the game, and it was Amelia’s game of choice when a friend of hers came round. It’s a fairly simple game and not too challenging for those who need some downtime over the Christmas period. It would be good to play with guests, who could pick it up fairly quickly. I can see it becoming part of our Christmas tradition.