Turn off the television and gather the family for some activities that all will enjoy, writes Justin Newcombe.

Because Christmas is about spending time together and goofing off, Christmas games are a superb way for us all to get together and have a laugh.

These games are less about who's the best and more about including everybody.

The other neat thing about Christmas games is that you don't have to spend much money on them. In fact much of the detritus associated with Christmas will suffice to make a day of games a memorable occasion. Wrapping, ribbon and empty bottles are an arsenal of useful materials with the only additional materials really being some masking tape, your imagination and enthusiasm.

I've come up with five games you can play but I find, especially when kids are involved, that games can take on nuances and rules particular to the participants and the environment, so much so that they can develop into whole new games.



This is a really easy one. Firstly you will need half a dozen empty bottles - shouldn't be too hard. Then you will need Christmas wrapping paper. Roll the packaging into a ball and tape it. I did a small ball first then covered it again to make it bigger. Set up a piece of wood between two buckets then balance the bottles on the timber. Now all you have to do is knock the bottles off. You can handicap the dead-eye dicks in the family by making them throw from further back than the more moderate throwers.


This is the one where you hang a bag full of sweet surprises from a tree, blindfold a volunteer, give them a big stick, disorientate them by spinning them around then encourage them to smack the bag as hard as possible in the hope of popping the bag. Use Christmas wrapping and any spare sweets, chocolates or treats. The trick here is to make the bag hard enough so that it doesn't pop first time or alternately take so long to destroy that everybody loses interest. I've made a layered pinata so the candy comes out little and often. The shape is usually an animal like a donkey but with all this seasonal paper you might knock up a reindeer or a topical figure in popular culture. We have just had an election after all.


This is an easy one but you will need a steep hill with long grass. Simply collapse a box to form a flat base and slide down a steep hill on top of it. Dry long grass will give you the best slide action. I also recommend stuffing some newspaper down the back of your pants so as to give you some padding.


As with skittles, make up a paper ball, use a cardboard box as wickets and any stick will do as a bat. A bigger ball will make it easier to hit and enable everyone in the family to be involved. Non-stop cricket is a good fast option and bat-down gives everyone a chance to shine.


Puppet show

I really like this one, especially if it's a bit wet outside. You can relive, embellish and share family stories, (Uncle Mike burning down the neighbour's shed after borrowing their mower), re-enact a scene from a favourite movie (bank robbery, Heat) or tell an important historical event (the birth of Christ, the re-birth of Winston in Parliament).

Merry Christmas to you and yours.