The Game of Playing Games ~ Pam Crooks

In my upcoming release, ELEANORA (Book #8 in the Widows of Wildcat Ridge series), the heroine, Eleanora Cavender, is tasked with organizing a scavenger hunt for the town’s July 4th celebration. The widows have suffered terrible losses after mine explosions, and the mayor believes a scavenger hunt would improve morale and be fun for the widows.

Eleanora is not exactly enamored with the idea. The whole thing feels frivolous, she resists such a big responsibility, and she’s at a loss for ideas.

However, the hero, Reed Shannon, loves the challenge of a good game. Strategy excites him. And in the end, quite unexpectedly, he finds the perfect prize for Eleanora’s scavenger hunt.


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I have a large family, and this year, we are making a HUGE break from tradition in that we are forgoing a gift exchange. Instead, we’ll spend the evening playing games.

Here’s a few of our favorites throughout the years.

  1. Actually, this will be a new one for us this year. The Saran Wrap game where trinkets (candy, small toys, money) are wrapped up in a big Saran Wrap ball. Whoever can peel away the Saran Wrap before time is up gets the prize.  Can’t wait to do this one!

  • Sequence – and old favorite. Players use cards and chips to get five in a row. Sounds easy? It’s all about the strategy.

  • Tripoley – remember this one? Uses cards and chips to play several games – Rummy, Hearts, or Poker. We spent hours and hours playing this one growing up.

  • Spoons – put your spoons in the middle of a table, get a deck of cards and try to get four of a kind. Fast-paced and easy.

  • Pictionary – draw a picture of the word on a card and have a team guess what the word is. No words or gestures can be used. Hilarious because, well, most people can’t draw well.

  • Family Trivia Game – my brother has accumulated interesting facts from our childhood for years. Talk about a trip down memory lane. Great fun for us older kids who lived it. Great fun for the younger ones to hear about it.

Of course, I can go on and on, but these are just a few games that will keep you laughing and enjoying time together, adults and kids alike.

How about your family? Are you game-players? Will you gather around the table or floor and challenge each other this Christmas?  What’s your favorite game?

Please share what kind of fun your family enjoys, and I’ll pick a winner for a $5 Amazon gift card!

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Pam has written 30 romances, most of them historical westerns, but her newest releases are contemporary sweet romances featuring the Blackstone Ranch series published by Tule Publishing. Stay up on the latest at

46 thoughts on “The Game of Playing Games ~ Pam Crooks”

    • We played Monopoly so often when we were kids. I’m sure my mother loved it when we did since it kept us occupied for hours. I don’t hear of kids playing it so much anymore. I don’t think my grandkids even own the game. Sad!

      Merry Christmas, Denise!

  1. In years past we loved to play games at Christmas. In fact one of my favorite memories is playing games with my cousins on Christmas Day, with quick interruptions for food! We played scrabble. monopoly, life, parcheesi and more. My husband and I used to love doing winter jigsaw puzzles. But now it’s just my son and me and as luck would have it he’s not a board game player–more of a video game person with his many online friends.

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

    • Jigsaw puzzles can be just as challenging as a board game. Another family favorite for us! And one my mother loved for keeping us quiet. But they’re great for the elderly, too, don’t you think? Good for the brain.

      Though not everyone will agree, I’m not a big fan of video games. They’re so solitary, and even though there’s interaction with strangers online, there’s nothing like sitting around a card table and having fun challenging members of your family.

      Sending Christmas wishes your way, Eliza!

  2. My family loves playing games as well. When the kids were younger they loved clue, card games, masterpiece and sequence. Now a days we play trivial pursuit, code names, apples to apples and dominoes among others.

    • Oh, goodness, Winnie! You were up early this morning (or late last night!!!) You’ve named some new ones for me – I’m not familiar with Apples to Apples.

      Are card games fading away? I remember my parents would get together with friends regularly and play. I would love to get into a card club like that, but don’t know of anyone who does. Cards are great fun!

      Thanks for stopping by, Winnie!

  3. My family loves playing penny ante poker. We have so much fun. Great blog thanks for sharing and for a chance to win. Early Merry Christmas to you & your family.

    • Ah, poker. A favorite from the ages, eh? I don’t think it will ever go out of style, but I’ve never played for pennies. Winning money is a great motivator and has lots of appeal, doesn’t it? Even if you’re just winning pennies. Fun!

      Keep the tradition going, Tonya!

  4. Being a very large family we started having Chinese Christmas aka White Elephant Christmas in lieu of everyone getting gifts for each other. We do get gifts for all the children though. I’m considering adding the syran wrap one but I can’t decide if it would just take up too much time because Chinese Christmas is time consuming too. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

    • My writers group has played Chinese Christmas many, many times. You’re right – it takes awhile, but it’s great fun. A drawback is that the prettiest gifts tend to get picked first – so we started putting each gift in black trash bags to keep things fair. Builds the mystery of what you picked, too!

      Thanks, Stephanie! Merry Christmas!

    • Ah, yes, Tripoley. Back when we were growing up, there just wasn’t the variety of games that kids have today (in addition to video games). So families owned the same games, which built alot of the same traditions. Who knew we’d one day blog about them? Ha!

      Merry Christmas, Debra!

    • Good morning, Cathy. Lives get busy, and we don’t have time to play like we used to. Candy Land is a classic kids game, but once our kids grow up and don’t play anymore, the games end up forgotten in the closet.

      But the memories live on, right?

      Merry Christmas!

  5. We aren’t game players. I like playing games, but my husband doesn’t. So, we don’t play anything. I did try the saran wrap game last year with his family and a few seemed to enjoy it, but his mother didn’t like the idea of it. I’m pretty sure she was against it because I planned it.

    • Janine, how about Solitaire? It’s relaxing and easy, and you just need yourself to play!

      I think as we get older, the challenge of winning is so good for our mental health/brains. If your husband’s family doesn’t like playing games, you could just play your own.

      Good luck! Family dynamics can be stressful during the holidays, unfortunately. Hang in there, okay?

      • I used to play solitaire. I just don’t see myself doing it. Usually I spend my quiet time reading. I also like to do Wonder Word puzzles.

  6. We enjoy playing games but we just don’t get together that often to do so. We did a lot when we were young. We all got together at my sister house a couple of weeks ago for a dinner party and played Aggravation and then Uno after the dinner and had a really good time. I had forgotten about how much fun it was to play those games.

    • Uno!! Yes! My kids and now my grandkids love that game. Another easy one. And you are so right – I think ALOT of people have forgotten how fun it is to sit at a table together and enjoy good, clean fun.

      Merry Christmas, Quilt Lady!

    • Old Maid and Go Fish – oh, the memories of those!! My daughters plumb wore those cards out they played them so often.

      Good for you for taking the time to sit and play with your grandchildren. Memories they’ll always cherish. When my family gets together, there’s so much noise, food to get on the table, cleaning up afterward, that before I know it, it’s time for everyone to go home. I don’t get to play with the grandkids as often as I’d like.

      Have the merriest of Christmases, Melanie!

  7. We are huge board game players. Especially during the Christmas break when everyone is home and schedules are more relaxed. We try to play at least one game a day. And there are always new ones wrapped and under the tree.

    If you want a fun family card game with a western flare, Pam, try Bang. I bet you’d like it. It has all the grit of an old Clint Eastwood western. 🙂

    • How nice – one game a day, Karen. I’m jealous since my kids don’t ‘come home’ every year. They’re all married now and live here in town. What a treat that would be to have a tradition of daily game-playing to look forward to when your family reunites over Christmas break!

      I checked out Bang on Amazon. It’s a #1 Choice – lots of good reviews. Excellent suggestion, sister filly!

  8. We have played a few of these! We started the saran wrap game last year and it was funny watching some of the nieces get all anxious and nervous when the ball came to them. 🙂 I need to start the family trivia game! How fun would that be?!

    • Start collecting those tidbits of information, Susan P. They’ll drop into your memory when you least expect them, but you have to write them down, or you’ll forget. I guarantee those snippets of trivia will become a family treasure!

      Merry, merry!

  9. We often played Rook and Sorry when I was a child and also when our daughter was growing up but the games have slowly gone by the wayside. Think I need to revive some of them! Thanks for sharing.

    • Having games fall by the wayside happens so easily to all of us, Connie. I try not to let that happen – I even brought some of our kids’ old games out to our lake cabin. Life is much more laid back there. We don’t even have Internet, so games are perfect.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  10. On my husbands side it is a lot of fun having dinner, gift exchanges, and wonderful time just catching up. We dont get to see each other too often. On my side, we have dinner, grab bag (one gift per person), we talk a lot, play Uno, Dominos and Apples to Apples Merry Christmas

    • Dominoes is a game we had, too. Did you know it’s an old, OLD game? Versions of a tile game appeared in China literally centuries ago. But the Dominoes as we know it came in the 18th century. Who knew?

      Thanks for sharing your family’s traditions, Lori.

      Wishing you the merriest of Christmases!

  11. Pam, how fun! When my mom was alive we always played game after game of Aggravation. She loved that and like you said, there was a strategy in playing. Now that she and my husband are gone, we don’t play anymore. We tried doing several different gift exchanges but they never seemed to work right so we just all sit and open presents together at once. The Saran Wrap Game sounds fun though and the kids would love it. I may try this. Thanks for the idea.

    Merry Christmas!

  12. Hey, Linda! My daughter’s in-laws open their gifts all at once, too. In just a few minutes, it’s all over. Poof! So we open each gift one at a time and make it last. Each family is different, isn’t it?

    Yep, the Saran Wrap game is good for young and old alike. Very casual and inexpensive, too.

    Merry Christmas back at you!

  13. Any time we visit family, we play a lot of table top games (Pandemic, Dominion, Sentinels of the Multiverse), card games (Rook and Pinochle), and with a big enough crowd, Telephone Pictionary–a delightful game with no winner, but everyone starts with a stack of paper, writes a word or phrase, passes the stack to the next person who shifts the top page to the back and on the new sheet draws what was written, then passes the stack on to the next person who shifts that sheet to the back and writes down what they saw, etc, until it comes full circle and the stack alternates words, picture, words, picture, etc. Then you go through your original stack to see what your idea became. The results are typically hilarious.

    • Rachael, I’ve never heard of most of those games! My parents used to love to play Pinochle–my uncle still does. Telephone Pictionary? That’s a new twist, isn’t it? Yes, I imagine it would be hilarious.

      You sound like you have a fun family. Merry Christmas!

  14. This book sounds so unique! It sounds like an adventure with the hunt! Oh I love games. We love Scrabble and Uno and Rummy and so many other card games! Cathie

    • Caffey, would you believe I just typed THE END to ELEANORA 15 minutes ago? LOL. Oh, what a great feeling! Still have to go through the book and make sure it’s as perfect as can be, but it’ll be ready to go by January 1st.

      Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy those games this Christmas!

  15. We, of course, played the traditional games when my daughter was younger – Monopoly, Clue, Yahtzee, Scrabble. She is in the teenage/friend stage right now, but, hopefully, we can get back to them.

    • Ha! Say no more. Your daughter is probably in the video game stage if she likes games at all. But truthfully, I’ll bet she goes back to playing games when she’s a mom. Perspectives change!

      Merry Christmas, Linda.

  16. We play the card game Sheepshead. It’s a classic game in Wisconsin. We also play Gin Golf, Up & Down the River, Uno…

    Board games: Cranium, Settlers of Cataan, Code Name, Bang, Clue, Mystery Mansion, Mall Madness, Aggravation and Exploding Kittens

    We play Salad bowl and Scattegories too. We love game time.

    • Exploding Kittens, Laurie? LOL. I recognized only a few of your games, but you have quite a list. You definitely DO love game time. Good for you!

      Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy those games this Christmas!

  17. Missed the giveaway. You are one of the few people I have heard talk about Tripoley. Our family has played it for years and enjoy it. Sequence, Scrabble, several variations of Monopoly, and Trivial Pursuit are all enjoyed.

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