In-Fashion Fun with Old-Fashioned Games

In the northern half of our earth, February is a cold month. Gatherings in front of the fireplace, around a large family table, or on a cozy rug are common, or at least should be, and bring families and friends closer.

Family-type games on a snowy evening in February have the makings of memories. These games have stood the test of time and were played by our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. Most of them only require active minds, good senses of humor, and some willing friends.

Add the warming touches of popped corn, apple cider, and nuts, and then try some of these time-tested games.

The Feather Game

The players obtain a fresh bed sheet and sit around it on the floor. They take the sheet in their hands and hold it tightly stretched under their chins. Then someone drops a small fluffy feather onto the center of the sheet. At a given signal everyone begins to blow as hard as they can. They try to blow the feather off the sheet and over the heads of the players on the opposite side. The side that first blows the feather off the sheet wins.

Indoor Tug-of-War

A raisin is tied in the exact center of a piece of sewing thread measuring three feet. Two players stand facing each other, and each puts one end of the string in his mouth. At the signal each player begins to chew as rapidly as possible toward the center. The one who gets there first will naturally help himself to the raisin. Keep in mind the competitors are not expected to swallow the thread they take into their mouths.

20 Questions

One player leaves the room. The others select an article or object. When the player returns, he tries to discover what the article is by asking questions that must be answered with a simple yes or no. He is allowed 20 questions. He might first try to locate the article by asking, “Is it in this room?” When he locates it, he may try to find out something of it’s nature. “Is it human?” When he thinks he knows what it is, he names it. If he is correct, another player leaves the room and the game continues. If he is wrong, he asks more questions until he has asked 20. If he doesn’t find out what the object is, the other players tell him and then send him out of the room for another try.

Where Is My Nose?

All players sit in a circle surrounding the leader. The leader suddenly points a finger at a player, and touching his ear with a finger of his other hand, he says, “This is my nose.” The player is too polite to argue about it, so he touches his nose and says, “This is my eye” or “my mouth” or “my cheek.” He must always touch the feature that the leader mentioned, but he must call it by the wrong name. In the meantime the leader counts rapidly to five immediately after he points. If the player does not answer in the correct manner before he finished counting, he becomes the new leader.

The Apple Contest

Apples are suspended by threads from a clothesline stretched across the room at just the right height to bring the apples on a level with the players’ mouths. Each player chooses an apple.

With his hands behind him, he stands beside it in readiness for the signal. At the word go each player tries to sink his teeth into the apple and break the thread that holds it. The winner is the one who breaks the thread first.

Numbered Wheel

A wheel is drawn on paper. Numbers are written between the spokes: 8, 6, 9, 3, 1, etc. Each player in turn takes a pencil and holds it in the air at shoulder level, saying:

“Tit for tat,
Butter for fat,
If you pet my dog,
I’ll pet your cat.”

At the word cat, the player lets the pencil fall on the wheel. The number written in the space where the pencil point lies is the score. If the point lies on a line or outside the circle, nothing is scored. Each player takes his turn. The player who first gains 35 points wins the game.

Drinking Contest

Each player chooses a partner for this contest. Players line up on one side of the room and face their partners who are given a teaspoon and a glass half full of water. At a signal they run across the room, and each begins to feed his partner with spoonfuls of water from the glass. The pair that empties its glass first wins the game.

Vegetable Bin

Players are seated on chairs in a circle. The player who is “it” stands in the center of the circle and assigns to each player the name of a vegetable. To play the game he calls out the names of two vegetables, such as “peas and tomatoes.” Those two designated players must exchange chairs as quickly as possible, because the player who is “it” will try to seat himself in one of their chairs. If he should succeed, the one who loses his seat becomes “it.” Whenever the person who is “it” calls out “vegetable bin,” everyone must change his seat.

Smelling Contest

Fill about 15 bottles with common liquids that have a strong odor, such as vinegar, kerosene, rubbing alcohol, vanilla mixed with water, oil of peppermint, etc. Number each bottle and let the players decide what the contents are. No player is allowed to take a taste of anything in the bottles. The person with the highest number of correct answers wins.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch