This post is for letter “P” in the 2016 ABCs of Homeschooling Through the Holidays series.
The quintessential party game is Holiday Hot-potato. It’s a great icebreaker. It’s great for family gatherings. It’s a tradition you’ll want to repeat!
We’ve played this quintessential party game every year–it’s become one of our favorite holiday traditions. Laughter and memories guaranteed. Ages 5+ can play.
First you’ll need a minimum of 8 players. But, more is good too. No more than 25 players, though.
Set up seats or folding chairs in a circle. One seat less than the number of players (because one player will be “it” in the middle).
You will also need a holiday wand. Collect several empty wrapping paper tubes or a pool noodle, cut shorter with a serrated knife.
Before play begins, all the players will select a holiday word as their new name. No duplicate names. Go around the circle to hear the names everyone has claimed.
For example: Diane is now Holly, Rick is Santa, Brittany is Manger, Dan is Wise Man, Trish is Frosty, Sally is Jingle Bell….and so on. The words/names can come from any specific holiday themes you specify or all of them.
How to play:
1. The extra player without a seat stands in the middle with the holiday wand, which looks very similar to an ordinary pool noodle or wrapping paper tube. This holiday wand brings much laughter, because it is used to tag or tap the players in the circle. The magic wand enables the “it” in the middle to tap out and take that player’s seat.
For example: Holly is in the middle as “it”.
2. One person is chosen to begin the 1st round of play. To begin the round, the 1st player MUST stand for their turn. Only the 1st player of each round stands for the 1st turn. The 1st player cannot be tagged during the 1st turn. (See step #6 for more on the standing rule.) The 1st player calls his own holiday name, then someone else’s holiday name. The 1st player immediately sits down.
For example: Santa is the 1st player. He stands up to begin round. He says his own name, “Santa”–scans the circle and calls out another player’s holiday name,”Manger”. He sits down.
3. The next player is the person who was called by the 1st player. When the player hears his name, he remains seated. He must repeat his own name, then call the holiday name of any other player, except the “it” in the middle. (See step #7 for more on the exceptions).
For example: The 1st player said, “Manger”. Manger remains seated, and repeats her name, “Manger”. Then, she says the name of any other player, “Wise Man”.
4. As the round continues, players play verbal hot-potato by saying their own name, and then someone else’s. Players remain seated for the entire round. Each player takes a turn repeating their name, then calling the name of any other player (even the player before). The player must state his own name then the name of another player.
For example: The 2nd player called the name, “Wise Man”. Wise Man repeats his name, “Wise Man.” Then, he decides to be very wise and calls back, “Manger”. Manger repeats her name, “Manger”–then, decides to call the 1st player again, “Santa”.
5. The player in the middle is trying to tag the player before they can complete their turn–repeating their own name and calling out another player. You might let the players continue for a while, before trying to tag anyone–especially on the 1st round while everyone is learning the pattern of the game and developing their strategy of who they’ll call next.
For example: Holly is “it” and she’s been following along with the progression. Santa-Manger. Manger-Wise Man. Wise Man–Manger. Manger–Santa. She remembers Santa. Santa repeated his name, “Santa and uh…” Holly taps Santa with the holiday wand before he can call another player’s name.
6. The tagged player takes the holiday wand and goes the middle of the circle. The player leaving the middle, REMAINS STANDING by the empty chair until he begins the round of play. He cannot be tagged again until he sits down. If he sits down before calling his name and another player, then the player immediately returns to the middle as the “it” again. Some players forget this rule throughout the game–and it is really funny. Only the 1st player stands for the 1st turn. All the other players remain seated during the round.
For example: Santa goes to the middle at “it.” Holly comes out of the middle and stands beside the empty chair. She says her own name, “Holly” then says the name of any other player, “Jingle Bell”, then sits down. Play continues, “Jingle Bell–Frosty”, “Frosty–Manger”…and so on. Till Santa tags someone. Then, he will move toward the empty seat to start the round from there.
7. A few extra rules clarifications: If a player mistakenly calls a name that is not his own first, he is automatically “it”. If a player calls a holiday word that nobody has their name, he is automatically “it.” If a player calls the name of whoever is currently “it” in the middle, he automatically becomes “it”.
Some players will not get called for a while. Others will be constantly picked. The ebb and flow of the rounds develop with personalities of the players.
Players are moving in and out of the middle and do not necessarily return to their original seat. The players get mixed around and warm up to each other. The tagging tends to get more animated and faux-aggressive.
There is no actual end, but we set a timer for about 20 or 30 minutes.
I think you’ll love this quintessential party game as much as my family does. It’s sure to become one of your holiday traditions. Laughter and memories guaranteed!
Kim Andrysczyk is an experienced homeschooler, coffee addict, sarcasm expert, and accidental blogger. She’s looking forward to having her 3 college-kids home for the holidays. Find Kim at her blog: The South Carolina Homeschooling Connection and your favorite social media: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
Visit our 2016 Homeschooling Through the Holidays sponsors: