Games for Your Family Reunion

Game – n. A diversion in the form of chance, skill, endurance, or a combination of these, pursued according to certain rules.

Mister Spiffy Says: "Wait, wait, don’t start. I don’t get it. So, I put both feet in the sack? Okay, and then what? Hop? What kind of game is this?"

Games are surely the most common activity for family reunions. Not only are they fun, but they force (note Mister Spiffy’s word choice) family members to interact with one another. The only thing more fun than watching the kids play games together is watching the adults try to join in as well. Print up certificates and awards to pass out to the winners. You can also pass out inexpensive treats to all the runners-up so that everybody "wins" something. Mister Spiffy knows that’s the best way to go. Also included with the instructions for some games are variants on the games. Mister Spiffy hasn't categorized these games, but has added a warning if old out of shape adults might want to be careful.

Sack Race Three-legged Race Egg Toss Tug of War
Red Rover Capture the Flag Kick the Can Hide and Seek
Duck Duck Goose Musical Chairs Fruit Basket Red light, Green light
War Ball Mummy Wrap Hay is for Horses Fish Pond
Family Trivia Board games Scavenger Hunt  

Sack Race Equipment Needed – One sack per participant.
How to Play – The old standard…get in a sack and hop to the finish line.
Variation – Put weights in the bottom of the sacks. Even more fun, put lots of weights in there without the people knowing. Ha, ha, ha…Mister Spiffy, you’re so mean.
Three-legged Race Equipment Needed – Some short pieces of rope.
How to Play – Divide up into teams of two. Tie the right leg of one teammate to the left leg of the other teammate. Now try to run the race. Hopefully they’ll gradually get in sync and it won’t be quite as hard to make it there.
Variation – Tie five people together and see what happens. Keep moving the numbers up until you have all the kids on two teams, all tied together.
Egg Toss Equipment Needed – One raw egg for each team.
How to Play – Divide up into teams of two. Have them stand, facing each other, two or three feet apart. Pass out the eggs, one to each team. Have the player with the egg throw it to his teammate. After the toss, every team with an unbroken egg is still in the game. Have each team member take one giant step backwards (away from his teammate) and toss the egg again. Repeat this until only one team has an unbroken egg.
Variation – You can also use water balloons, though it isn’t as funny when it breaks.
Tug of War Equipment Needed – Strong, thick rope (not nylon, which can stretch and break).
How to Play – Divide the group into two teams (try to make them even by total size, not necessarily by numbers). On the mark, each team tries to pull the other across a line – a small creek, mud hole, or the stream of water created by a hose.
Variation – One branch of the family against the other, male against female, et cetera.
Red Light, Green Light How to Play – Choose one person to be the stoplight. Everyone else is a car. The stoplight stands at the finish line with his or her back towards the starting line. Everyone else lines up. The stoplight calls, "Green light!" At this signal, everyone races towards the stoplight. The stoplight can shout "Red light" at any time, and then turn around quickly to see if he or she can catch any of the cars still moving. If the stoplight sees someone still moving, that person must go back to the starting line and start over. Whoever gets to and tags the stoplight first gets to be the stoplight for the next round.
Variation – Have two stoplights standing up there. Then the cars have to watch both.
Red Rover How to Play – Divide everyone into two large groups. Each group lines up, joining hands and facing the other group. One groups shouts in unison, "Red Rover, Red Rover, send Johnny right over." Whoever’s name is called (in the place of ‘Johnny’) has to run towards the group and try to break through the line between two people by breaking their hand grips (or perhaps their arms). If he successfully breaks through, he can take one of the other team’s players back to his group. If he fails to break through, he must join the other team.
Capture the Flag Ah, Capture the Flag. The old favorite, chock-full of wheezing, gasping old men and giggling flag-guards who have done absolutely nothing.
Equipment Needed – A very large area in which to play, two rags that serve as flags, and a middle boundary.
How to Play – A classic. Mister Spiffy’s second favorite running-around game when he was younger, just under Kick the Can. You break into two teams and set the sides. Both teams hide their flag. Then you break and go across the center, trying to steal the other team’s flag and make it back to your home area without getting tagged. If you get tagged, you’re caught and go to the other team’s prison. The only way to get out of prison is for someone on your team (who isn't also in prison) to touch you in jail. Then you can run free (be careful, you can get recaptured if you get tagged on the opponent's side of the field again). First team to get the other’s flag and bring it across the boundry line wins. Mister Spiffy’s friendly warning – this game can be hazardous to your health. Don’t run around any more than you can handle. If necessary, slump down in the dirt and play dead until you can breathe again.
Kick the Can Kick the Can, Mister Spiffy’s favorite. The basis of a Twilight Zone episode, in which old people become young again through the playing of this very game. Memories…
Equipment Needed – A can.
How to Play – Kick the can. Ha, ha, no, really, here’s the instructions. One person is It. It tries to catch people, while protecting the precious can at the same time. If the can gets kicked over, all the captured people run free, and It has to put the can back in place before they can go and try to catch people again. Game continues until It catches everyone, or collapses from exhaustion.
Hide and Seek Equipment Needed – Absatively posolutely nothing.
How to Play – Oh, please. Don’t tell me there’s anyone out there who doesn’t know how to play hide and seek. What is the world coming to? You pick an It, and everybody hides, and It goes to find ‘em. How hard can it possibly be?
Variation – The game is called Sardines. Kind of a twisting backwards of hide and seek. You choose an It, as usual, but this time, It goes and hides. Everyone else goes to look. When someone finds It, they have to squeeze into the hiding place with them. Y’know, like sardines. The game ends when everyone is all squished in with It.
War Ball Equipment Needed – As many soft rubber balls as you can possibly get your paws on.
How to Play – To say it in the words of a young Mister Spiffy fan, "You take a bunch of balls, and you huck ‘em, and you hit people. Then they’re out and that means you’re good." Basically, you divide into two teams, face each other, and play dodge ball against each other. When someone gets hit, they go to prison in the back of the opponents. Then they catch balls that come back there and try to hit the people of the other side. If they do, they’re free again. By the way, the balls can’t bounce before hitting someone – if they do, they’re dead and don’t do any damage. And if a person catches the ball, the one who threw it is out.
Variation – Another version of this game is Medic. When you get hit, you sit where you were hit. Before the game you choose a Medic, who can walk around and touch the sitting people so they can get back up. Don’t let the other team know who your Medic is – if they do, they’ll kill him off real quick. The objective of the entire game – kill off the Medic!
Duck, Duck, Goose Equipment Needed – People intelligent enough to sit in a circle.
How to Play – Sit everyone in a circle and choose someone to be It. It walks around the circle, patting everyone on the head, saying "Duck, duck, duck, duck, duck…" et cetera. Finally they choose someone and say "Goose!" and promptly begin running. The chosen Goose stands up and chases after them. It has to run clear around the circle, then sit down in the Goose’s previous spot. If the Goose catches It, then It has to go through this pattern again. If not, the Goose becomes It, and they have to go through it. A prime example of a never-ending game.
Musical Chairs Equipment Needed – One less chair than the number of people.
How to Play – "Here at Spiffy World Airlines, we have designated seats – not musical chairs." Ah, yes, musical chairs. Walk in a circle while music is playing in the background. When the music stops at a random time, everyone sits. Unfortunately, there are not enough chairs, and one person is left standing. That one lonely person is forced to leave, for they are out. And then, although there are now enough chairs for everyone, take one away. Go through this pattern until one person is left. As is understandable, that person is the winner.
Fruit Basket Equipment Needed – People intelligent enough to stand in a circle.
How to Play – Make a tight circle – no gaps. Each person chooses a fruit (a little help – strawberry, banana, watermelon, tomato [yes, it is a fruit], cherry, grape). Then It is in the middle. It calls out a fruit. Everyone who has chosen that fruit has to run to another area – an empty space left by a member of the same fruit group. It tries to get into one of those places, therefore leaving one different person in the middle to be It. One cannot move to the space directly beside them, nor can they stay in the same spot – if It doesn’t make it to an empty space, It has to do the whole thing over again, with another fruit. Oh, the ghastly horrors!
Mummy Wrap Equipment Needed – One roll of toilet paper for every 2 people
How to Play – A fun game. Split into teams of two and give each team a roll of toilet paper. Games with toilet paper are always good. Then one person tries to turn the other into a mummy. Everything has to be covered except the eyes. First team done wins.
Hay is for Horses Equipment Needed – A bale of hay or straw
How to Play – Cut the twine and heap the bale into a random pile. Sprinkle coins and small prizes all over in the straw (er, I mean, hay) and let the kids have at it. They’ll tear it apart by the time it’s done, and all you have to do is clean up some hay. Mister Spiffy advises against playing this game indoors.
Fish Pond Equipment Needed – Homemade fishing poles with clothes pins for hooks, a wall or divider to fish over, and a bunch of cheap little toys.
How to Play – Give kids a fishing rod and throw the string over the barrier. Have some of the older kids behind the barrier clipping the cheap little toys onto the end of the fishing line. It's thrilling for the little kids, amuses the older kids, and is cheap for you. Mister Spiffy says you can't ask for more.
Family Trivia Equipment Needed – None
How to Play – Find out odd facts about Grandpa Joe and Aunt Rose, then tell everyone and have them guess who it is. The weirder the facts, the more far-out the trivia, the better the game! "Did you know Grandma Gertrude can put her ankles behind her head? Yeah, she’s a contortionist!"
Board games Equipment Needed – Any board game.
How to Play – Read the instructions that come with the game. There are board games for almost any age, and many which can be played by folks of all ages.
Scavenger Hunt Equipment Needed – A list of things to hunt for (one copy per person or team)
How to Play – Give people or groups a list of things to hunt for, and the first one done wins. The common version is to have everyone find strange things (tennis ball, piece of string, coconut...) and bring them back.
Variations – There are a million variations to this. Here are just a few...
  • Cleanup hunt - This version is especially good near the end of the reunion. Give everyone a list of different types of trash (Dr. Pepper can, napkin, plastic fork, watermelon rind, etc), or just see who can pick up the most pieces of trash. No digging in the trash can allowed. They have to find them on the ground.
  • Service scavenger hunt - Give them a list of things to do: vacuum one room, read a book to a small child, wash a window, etc. You can even have them do each of these things at a different neighbor's home, and the neighbor has to initial the item as proof.
  • Family hunt - Give them a list of personal characteristics, and have them find family members who match (for example, green eyes, no hair, same color eyes, born the same year). Mister Spiffy suggests tossing in a couple of easy ones like same number of arms, born after 1850, etc.