Five family-friendly New Year's Eve games

Whether you find yourself inside with your household or joining a virtual party this New Year's Eve, these five games are guaranteed to bring joy
30th December 2020, 8:00am
Katie Shaw


Five family-friendly New Year's Eve games
New Year's Eve Games: Five Family-friendly Ones

I can't stand board games. An ex-boyfriend once took me to a board games party and after about 12 hours of Pandemic, Carcassonne and Munchkin, my patience for both board games and the relationship came to an end.

Coming from a very large family and spending a lot of my working life delivering residential training for young people, I've developed a soft spot for quick and fun party games. This year's New Year's Eve is going to be very different for us all, so below is a round-up of some of my favourite and silliest games to play with your chosen bubble or online with family and friends.

However you end up celebrating the end of the hellscape that's been 2020, I hope these games bring you and your loved ones a little much-needed joy.

Tes FE people of the year: Sandra Thomson

Association of Colleges: What will 2021 bring FE?

More: 10 ways to protect your mental health over the holidays

After Eight Race

It's likely you've got a box of After Eight mints or similar hanging around as they are in the lower tier of Christmas chocolates. This game is a bit messy, so I recommend not playing it if a) you're wearing a white top, b) you've got a full face of makeup or c) stood under a direct light.

The aim is to be the first person to get the chocolate into your mouth. Sounds easy, but the chocolate starts on your forehead and you can't use your hands. Place the unwrapped chocolate squarely in the middle of your forehead, when someone shouts "go", wiggle and twitch your face to slowly move the chocolate down towards your mouth.

My pro tip is to make sure you tilt your head back slightly, wink and use your nose as a bit of a buffer. It's probably best to not play this around light-coloured carpet. 

Apple, Beer or Cheese?

This is one of my favourite games and it's evolved over time. It started out as a quiz round where I found loads of weird names British people have given beers and cheese. I've developed it into a Zoom icebreaker game over lockdown for online training.

First thing: find the names of apples, cheeses and beer varieties (you want CAMRA type ales, not fancy IPAs). There are some weird names, and looking for them might actually be the best bit of the game. Once you've got your list, the aim of the game is for the participants to guess whether Stinking Bishop or others from your list are apples, beers or cheeses.

To make it more interactive, I've been teaching participants the Makaton signs for apple, beer and cheese so they sign as they respond. You can find videos and resource sheets of the individual signs online.

Guess Who?

I love a pub quiz. My favourite bit is always the picture round and Zoom quizzes have really upped the ante. So imagine how excited I was when my boxing club hosted a quiz with a picture round that featured one of my other loves: tattoos.

It turns out a lot of people have got some pretty interesting tattoo portraits of celebrities and they're all available to look at on the internet for free! So if you want to make a fun picture quiz for either an online or face to face quiz, I highly recommend creating a "guess the celebrity" round using tattoo portraits.

For a slightly more educational and highbrow picture round, search for images of medieval animal art instead and wow your participants with illustrations of owls with very human faces. 

Heads Up

Most board games are banned in my family home because my dad gets a little too shouty about the rules and my sister is an international athlete and far too competitive for her own good.

We have two games we tolerate over the festive period. One involves trespassing onto the local golf club for a round of drunk Pitch and Putt after Christmas lunch and the other is Heads Up. Heads Up is a game you can download on your phone that involves your family screaming the same thing over and over at you until you guess what they're trying to describe from a specific category such as "animals". You can also download a blank deck, allowing you to create your own categories for the game, tailoring it to suit whoever you're playing with.

Story Cubes

This game has been a staple of holidays and pub visits with a particular group of friends for many years (except this year, obviously). You need a special pack of Story Cube dice to play, which you can pick up online or from large bookshops. The dice have small pictures on them and, taking it in turns, you roll a dice and start to tell a story relating to the image that lands face up. The dice get passed around the group, with each of you taking it in turns to continue the story. If you really want to see into the weird recesses of the minds of the people you care about, this is definitely the game for you.

Sleeping Lions

In this classic game where one or two people are designated lions and everyone else lays on the floor as still as possible while the lions try and stir them.

This is exactly the game I expect be playing as the clock strikes midnight: balled up on the floor, eyes screwed tight shut, clutching a cocktail and waiting for this awful year to end.

Katie Shaw is a freelance consultant in FE. She previously worked on adult education for UNISON and as policy and campaigns manager for the NUS students' union. 

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters