My kids are grown and gone are the days of Santa surprises and finding the prized “oh my!” gift. I am destined to purchase a variety of gift cards. A few years ago I decided to make a game of it and wrapped one gift per child. One package had a Bluetooth unit for a vehicle that accommodated hands-free phone talk. Other gifts had a combination of gift cards such as movie theatre tickets with a restaurant card, or a pretty dish with a Bath and Body Works gift card. Each gift was approximately the same value. Then on Christmas we played the White Elephant Gift Game and a major swap and steal game ensued.
I say, make them earn those gift cards!
Last year was the best sneaky surprise. A week before Christmas the family gathered for our annual gingerbread house building. Afterwards we told everyone we were going to play a game of Jeopardy just for fun. (The dollar amounts were considerably less than the televised game.) I was pleasantly surprised with the level of competition and enthusiasm.
Each category was based on our family memories except for two somewhat generic categories so that the new additions to the family had a chance at winning. Those two categories were: “Numbers” and “Name that Carol.”
In the game Jeopardy a player selects a category and dollar amount then the game host makes the corresponding statement for that selection. The player must then give the answer in the form of a question. For example: A player selects the category of Travel for $20. The statement on the back of the card read: “stranded on a sailboat.” The first player who raises his hand answers in the form of a question. In this case the correct answer was, “Where is Lake Buchanan?” The winner of that round selects the next category and dollar amount and the game continues until all cards are played.
On our game night when a player stated the correct question we handed the player the winning card so he or she could keep count of their own score by adding the dollar amounts at the end of the game to determine the winner. It was an evening filled with laughter and memories of family trips, pets we owned, funny things the kids said growing up we categorized as “words of wisdom” remembering the time Lauren was doing her homework and asked Corey what language is spoken in Brazil and he told her Brazilian.
Christmas morning they were surprised to find their stocking filled with the same amount of cash as their score from the game of Jeopardy. Now that beats a gift card doesn’t it?
If you’re thinking this would be a fun game for your family too help here are some tips:
- First determine your budget – how much money in total you will give away.
- Jot as quickly as possible 40-50 thoughts of family memories over the years
- Read over the list and group the subjects into six categories such as travel, pets, quotes, accidents, etc.
- On 30 index cards or cut cards approximately 4”x6” write the dollar amount on one side and on the opposite side the statement and then the answer or acceptable answers in the form of a question below it. Note: You may want to color code the cards with each category a different color.
- Tape the cards on a wall or vertical surface lining the cards by category to play Jeopardy.
- If some of the players are new to the family have a couple of categories they can answer. (You can troll for information on their social media page even if you’re not a “friend.”)