Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Games

Check out my Holiday Gift Guide if you're looking for games to buy this Christmas season.

This is a catalog of games with Christmas themes.

Before the mid-1800s, Christmas was not the joyful, child oriented, consumer holiday that you know today. It was solemn, holy, and serious. As Puritan values began to mellow, and literature about Christmas, such as A Visit from Saint Nicholas, began to appear in the early 1800s, Christmas began to mellow out.

Early depictions of Santa Claus had him as a drunkard. It was Thomas Nast's cartoons in Harper's Weekly of an old gentleman with a round belly who gives out presents that gave Santa his current image.

Generic Christmas Games

Excessive consumerism during Christmas has been criticized since at least the 1850s, but that doesn't stop companies from branding everything they can with Christmas logos and decorations. If they can't brand the object, they brand the packaging. And if they can't brand the packaging, they brand the advertisements.

Therefore it should come as no surprise that you can find Christmas themed Chess, Checkers, Dominoes, several murder mystery games, playing cards (general, or specifically intended for a particular card game), Bingo daubers, Memory, Tic Tac Toe (Nick Tac Toe, anyone?), Charades, Bean Bag Toss, Ring Toss, bowling, golf, Pinball, Monopoly, UNO, Halli Galli, Trivial Pursuit (1981 and 1991 versions), and so on.

Of Monopoly versions, there is: Christmas, A Christmas Story, Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

There are Christmas-themed expansions for games which simply add Christmas figures, cards, trivia, or decorations to the usual game play.

Several brands have managed to associate themselves with the Christmas concept and are joined together with the Christmas theme on several items. A notable example is the Coca-Cola brand. Coke ran some memorable commercials featuring Santa drinking their product, and so several games were produced bearing these images.

Other examples include famous Christmas stories, television specials, and movies: It's a Wonderful Life, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated and live action versions), Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas (Party Game, Board Game, and others), A Christmas Carol (Mr Magoo's television special, or otherwise), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story, and so on. I won't list all of these. You can find them at most stores, including .

Many simple game retreads are created for dollar stores, magazine inserts, or print-and-play downloads. The ESL board game database, with member-created games on every conceivable topic, lists at least five Christmas-themed games available for download.

Specific Christmas Games

Note: Images below are linked to their source, when possible.

The Christmas Stocking Game

1889. This is some sort of card game with gift cards, stocking cards, and a Santa Claus card.

Santa Claus Game

1898-1900. The game is printed on the inside box bottom. A roll-and-move game.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

1948. This spin-and-move game comes in two versions, a plain version and an elaborate 3D version which sets up like a house. A copy of the latter was just sold on eBay.

Santa Claus Christmas card game

1960s. A card game of some kind.

Hi Ho Santa Claus

1962. Trim the tree using your eight colored balls. Pictures is the 1962 version, and there is also a 1969 version.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

1977. A roll-and-move Cadaco game.

The Christmas Game

1980. The first to spend all of his money on shopping wins. I kid you not.

The Christmas Game

1983. Roll-and-move around the board completing four Christmas scenes before the manger scene.

Christmas Game

1983. From a line of cooperative board games for 3 to 7 year olds by Eco choices.

I Believe in Santa Claus

1984. Some sort of roll-and-move collecting reindeer game.

Christmas Trivia

1985. I've seen a Trivial Pursuit 1981 Christmas edition on eBay, although I can't find it anywhere. This game uses similar mechanics.

Tis the Season: Christmas Trivia

1988. Another Trivia game, but without a board. You can actually still buy new copies of this game here.

Christmas Stories: The Game

1988. Collect five story cards and then tell a story using all five themes to win. You can find it on eBay right now.

Hanna Barbera's Greatest Adventures: The Nativity

1988. Hannah Barbera produced a number of short animated films in their Greatest Adventures series, including this one. This one was made into a trivia-and-move game of some sort.


Han Heidema is a Dutch game designer who gave out specially produced games (by other designers) as Christmas cards every year from 1990 to 1999, and all with Christmas themes. You can find some of them listed on BGG.

Santa's Special Delivery Game

1990. A Candyland-type game.

The Santa Incident

1992. A GDW war game of Iran vs Kris Kringle.

The Original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

1995. Roll and move game where you pick up items on the way.

The Christmas Game

1997. By something called Alawhe games. Be the first to give all your money to charity by answering trivia questions.

Happy Holidays! The Christmas Carols and Songs Game

1999. A roll-and-move Name That Tune kind of game.

Dirty Xmas

1999. A French card game about Santa hiring a successor, suitable for family play despite the name.


Gamesake Christmas Board Game

2004. There are lots of feel-good games like this around. Basically, you are supposed to create the cards and/or spaces with your own memories and stories, and then use the game as a way of sharing these stories in the future.

Santa's Elves

2004. A simultaneous movement game of trying to earn stars from Santa so as to be named Chief Elf.

Christmas Tree

2004. Flip cards until someone calls out three cards with any matching characteristics.


2005. A Swedish Christmas game of some sort.

The Christmas Wars

2005. By Team Frog Studios, a light war game and parody.

The Christmas Game

2006. A gift delivery game from Germany.

Trivia By the Pound

2007. Pure and simple trivia game.

I Spy Holiday Wishes Card Game

2007. Pick a card and let others try to guess what it is.

Great Christmas Race

2007? An MJS creation by . Looks like your typical roll-and-move game.


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