11 Games to Play on New Year’s Day

updated May 1, 2019
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New Year’s Day is good for a few things: recovering from staying up too late the night before, eating your hoppin’ john and greens, and hanging around the house with friends and family, starting the new year with the people who love you most.

But you can only sit around sharing resolutions for so long. What’s next? Game time! Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

(Image credit: Anne Wolfe Postic)

Games for Everyone

1. Go for the classics.

Sorry! is fun for all ages, and Monopoly covers a pretty wide age range. Just don’t play it in a family full of realtors like mine (it can get pretty cutthroat). And Pictionary — which I am old enough to think of as a new game, because it was released in 1985 — is always a hit.

2. Ask people to bring childhood favorites.

My friend Tracie introduced me to the game Masterpiece, “the classic art auction game.” I am determined to see if I can find another “Welcome Back, Kotter” game. Yes, they made one. My husband was a big fan of “Careers,” a game that was foreign to me. He and his only brother are both gainfully employed, so I may need to get that one for our kids. Our childhood favorites may not be the most well-designed games, but they are great conversation openers.

3. Word games.

There are word games for almost any age, but do not ask me to play Scrabble with a kid. (I get a little too competitive.) Bananagrams, on the other hand, I can enjoy, as long as the kid can spell. I still won’t let him win.

4. Number games.

Rummikub is a favorite for big kids and adults, and Blokus and Yahtzee are great for all ages.

5. Charades.

An oldie, but a goodie. It can also be adapted for people of all ages, since players determine what will be pantomimed. Who hasn’t enjoyed a great evening playing charades?

6. Classic card games.

Don’t know the rules? A house copy of Hoyle Up-to-Date is essential. It doesn’t really matter which edition, because these games don’t change. Rummy, go fish, bridge, and euchre are always a lot of fun, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you remember how to play.

7. Anything outside, for those in warmer climates.

All you need for Four Square is some chalk and a rubber ball. Hopscotch? Just the chalk. If you’re lucky enough to have a basketball hoop, a round robin horse tournament can go on for hours. If you often have guests who crave a little exercise, a croquet or bocce set is a great investment.

8. Fact or crap.

Y’all, I do not know why this game is so much fun, but it is. I went to the beach with a group of friends, and we found this one in that musty basket of games every vacation house has. Maybe it was raining, maybe we had been drinking, but we ended up playing for hours. On another trip, I introduced my kids to the game, and they love it, too. Pro tip: Let the card reader begin with the words “FACT OR CRAP” in any language they know, with any silly flourishes. Hilarity will ensue. Also, I have never seen anyone get upset about losing.

(Image credit: Anne Wolfe Postic)

Games for Adults Only

At first this game seems silly, maybe a little (okay, a lot) vulgar, but it gets funny fast. Children should not be anywhere within earshot. You know what else is cool? If you have the materials and the time, you can download the game for free.

10. Drinking games

Don’t judge! What was your game? Quarters? The Spoon Game? Something to do with a TV marathon? (Suggestion: Drink every time someone says, “We need a bus!” on Law and Order.) Since you want to be in it for the long haul, use plenty of club soda and sip, don’t gulp.

This one is meant to be played with little tokens, but it’s a lot more fun with dollar bills. Everyone starts with three one-dollar bills, and puts one in the center of the table when they roll “C.” Last one with a dollar gets the whole pot. Gambling is not for children. Pro tip: No matter how much fun you think it will be, do not suggest larger bills. Somehow, it’s a lot less fun.

What are your favorite games to play during an afternoon at home?

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