Tag Archives: games

Fun for the Holidays

The Holidays are a time when friends and family are in close quarters. Much of that time is joyous, full of fun and spent in front of the TV watching any number of Christmas specials. We are never far removed from Jimmy Stewart, Chevy Chase, George C. Scott, Billy Bob Thorton or Little Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun.

However, film and TV are relatively new additions to the Holiday season. A century ago, no one owned a TV and movies were silent. How did people pass the time? The answer, of course, is games. Board games, card games, word games and many others were played for fun.

The Victorian era (1837-1901) which gave us Christmas cards, A Christmas Carol and Christmas Crackers also had games like Up Jenkins, Similes and Throwing the Smile. Up Jenkins was played with 8 or more players divided into two teams. Teams would sit across from each other and one team was given a coin. The team with the coin would pass or pretend to pass it among themselves until the opposing team shouted Up Jenkins! At which point the team with the coin would raise their hands above the table with fists closed. The opposing team would then say Down Jenkins! The team with the coin would then place their hands on the table palms down. The other team would then get one chance to guess which player on the opposing team had the coin.

Similes could be played with as few as two people but more is better. Each player would take a turn telling the other player or players a simile. Here are some examples of similes:

tight as a drum
green as the grass
brave as a lion
strong as an ox.

Players would keep telling similes until someone couldn’t think of one and then that person would be out. Eventually you would be left with a winner.
Those are games from Christmas past. If you’re looking to play games in Christmas present here are some books that can help:

The Complete Book of Card Games


This how-to book offers a large variety of card games along with rules and instructions about how to play.  You’ll see Poker and Cribbage as well a few games not often played.  In addition to learning how to play, you’ll also get a short history on the evolution of the game.

Hoyle’s Rules of Games: Descriptions of Indoor Games of Skill and Chance, with Advice on Skillful Play: Based on the Foundations Laid Down by Edmund Hoyle, 1672-1769


If you’ve ever wondered “how do I play Egyptian Ratscrew?” this book is for you. Providing rules and strategies for card and board games, you’ll find fun from Scrabble to Eleusis. The book also helpfully separates games geared for adults versus those more suited for children.

Family Fun Night


Check out this book to create an “unplugged” family fun night that appeals to children too! With twists on timeless classics to brand new games, this book provides ideas for indoor and outdoor fun. Plus, it suggests snacks and meals that complement each family night theme.

The Oxford History of Board Games


My list of books would not be complete without a history of board games. David Parlett dives into the rich and interesting history of board games from around the world and from different time periods. His book offers some tips on strategies but focuses primarily on the development and cultural aspects of the games.

These books offer some great ways to stay entertained over the holidays. And there is one more twist you can throw into your gaming that can be a lot of fun. Today most games end with a player or players being “out” or being “it”. However, in ages past many games didn’t end this way. Players would perform a forfeit. Here are some examples:

  • A player has to stand on a chair and assume the form or shape of an object or animal the group chooses.
  • Make at least three other people smile.
  • Tell a joke.
  • Mime something and make the other players guess what it is you are doing.

Try these or create your own forfeits to add a different twist to your games!

While the holiday season is a great time to break out the games, it isn’t the only time you can enjoy them. Come to the library and enjoy “Tabletop Games Day”.  Different branches host this games day event at different times of the year.  Come and enjoy an oversized game of Chess, Checkers, or Snakes and Ladders.  You can also have fun with some regular-sized games like Clue, Scrabble or Cribbage.  Check the most current “At the Library” for times and locations.

Happy Holidays!


Celebrate Good Times

I think the important thing now is to have a celebration…

Michael D. Higgins

We’re in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year for holidays and celebrations. It can sometimes seem as though the rest of the year is just marking time until December comes around again. But did you know that every month in the year has sometime significant to celebrate?

Product DetailsJanuary is the traditional time to pay more attention to our physical health, when we head back to the gym to give our bodies a workout. In the midst of flexing our muscles, we can also boost our brain power. January is also Brain Teasers Month, an opportunity to sharpen our wits and overcome the brain freeze that may occur in winter.

Product DetailsFebruary is the shortest month of the year, but it’s filled with things to commemorate. It’s the time to show our feathered friends some love during bird feeding month, eat a hot breakfast or do some baking with the family. You can also to check out all the great stuff libraries have to offer since it’s Library Lovers Month.

According to the calendar, spring begins in March, and it’s also Craft Month, Women’s History Month and Umbrella Month. An entire month dedicated to umbrellas? Who knew?!

Product DetailsApril is the time to delight in poetry, jazz and gardens, while May is the month to barbecue, get caught reading, and take a photo.

Reasons to rejoice in June include candy, camping and the great outdoors, all good things that deserve more attention. Especially candy.

Product DetailsIn this part of the country, the warm weather that occurs in July and August is a huge reason for celebration in and of itself. However, if you want to take things to the next level, you can combine two of the things that also make July special; ice cream and picnics – two of my personal favourites any month of the year. August is Golf Month, so get out on the green and make merry.

September means back to school, plus the chance to reflect on pianos and chickens. I like to spend September contemplating the possible connections between the two…

Product DetailsPizza is the focus in October, while November is Vegan Month. As I said before, December is loaded with holidays and celebrations, including the fact that it’s Tie Month.

This list is far from complete, and I encourage you to create your own calendar of events. Check out the website Days of the Year for more weird and wonderful days to celebrate, or create your own. It’s a great way to make every month the most wonderful time of the year!