Games that you and your’s can play to expand minds, build vocabularies, and keep conversation flowing at the dinner table:
- EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW HOW TO; Weekend Life For this game a list of activities everyone should know how to do on the weekend is read aloud and each person is asked to jot down the activities s/he is competent at. The individual with the longest list wins and the individual knowing the least gets to ask the winner to explain (or demonstrate, if appropriate) their expertise on an activity of the incompetents choice. Here is the list of activities everyone should know how to do on the weekend: Relax; Wash a Car; Change a Tire; Change Your Oil; Mow a Lawn; Fly a Flag; Garden; Swing a Golf Club; Swim; Hit a Tennis Ball; Give a Massage; Make a Martini; Barbecue; Build a Fire; Tell a Joke; Be a Gracious Host; Be a Good Houseguest; Arrange Flowers; Set a Formal Table; Uncork a Wine Bottle; Taste Wine; Use Chopsticks; Make a Toast.
- THE LAUGHING GAME Everyone laugh like Dad Everyone laugh Like Mom Everyone laugh like…
- PASS THE PIG This is a manners game. Begin with a small plastic toy pig in the center of the table. When someone is caught demonstrating poor manners (for instance, chewing with their mouth open) the pig is placed above the offensive person’s table setting. The person with the pig before them at the end of dinner has to do the dishes.
- OXYMORON An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which contradictory ideas or terms are combined. Examples: thunderous silence, large shrimp, seriously funny. Go around the table asking each person to come up with an oxymoron. If they cannot, they are out for the consecutive rounds. The last person to name an oxymoron wins the game.
- SPELL IT, DEFINE IT, USE IT Pick a word from the dictionary, have them spell it, then define it, then use it in a sentence If they get any section wrong go to the next person.
Getting To Know You Games
- I REMEBER WHEN… Everyone completes the sentence. Decide whether the sentence will be something about yourself, or something about another person at the table.
- SOMETHING I LIKE ABOUT MYSELF Self-explanatory.
- MY SPECIAL TALENTS IS Here’s a way to reveal something you’re good at that no one else knows about.
- PET PEEVES AND IDIOSYNCRASIES You can start by debating the subtle difference between the two, for pet peeves and idiosyncrasies are very different although they are commonly confused. To play, ask each person to name a pet peeve and one of their idiosyncrasies. For advanced (thick-skinned) players only, another version of this game would be to name one another’s idiosyncrasies and pet peeves.
- LIMITATIONS AND VIRTUES First, provide an explanation of what a limitation is and what a virtue is. Then the self-reflection begins. Insightful!
Games for Young Children
- BROCCOLI MOMENT! At some point during dinner, exclaim “Broccoli Moment!” Everyone grabs a piece of broccoli (or whichever vegetable you are serving), holds it up, counts 1, 2, 3, and together everyone eats.
- ALPHABET GAME Pick a letter and have everyone come up with a word that starts with that latter. Add categories to make it more challenging. For example: animals that begin with the letter B.
- TELEPHONE A classic. Whisper a multi-part story into one person’s ear. The more details, the better. That person then whispers the story into the next person’s ear and so on until the last person tells the story they heard out loud.