It’s Christmas afternoon and the whole family is sitting around a little too full and a little tipsy… You’ve exhausted seemingly every possible topic of conversation and you figure just telling your dad you work in IT is much easier than trying to explain what exactly it is you do. Sounds like the perfect time to play a game together.
But poker is for dicks and Monopoly is likely to start a domestic. You've all got phones in your pockets, so why not see what they've got to offer on the festive competition front instead? Here’s our pick of the best Christmas party games for phones, sure to raise as many smiles as inspire punch-ups.
Best Christmas Party Games for Phones
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
This is actually a tabletop card game / app hybrid where each player is given a different role (villager, seer, robber, werewolf, tanner, etc) and the goal is to try and figure out who is the werewolf by asking questions.
So where does your phone come in? To make the game work, you need to run a specific app on your phone, which will issue commands and automate the timing of each round, essentially acting as referee during your enquiries.
A twist on the age-old guessing game, Heads Up (iOS/Android) replaces the post-it note with your phone’s screen, and as ever the object is to guess who the person is that you’re supposed to be. The game, which has been created (or at least endorsed) by TV’s Ellen, also has different categories available, as well as game modes that could see you have to perform a song or do an impression.
Another boardgame/app hybrid, Alchemists is for 2-4 players and challenges players to do some science. The goal is to accrue points by testing theories about which ingredients work together. The app is used to carry out the tests, and gives the game replay value by randomising the chemical composition of each ingredient each time, so you can play again with no insider knowledge.
If you want to end up with your family shouting at each other - but in a good way - download Spaceteam to your phone or tablet (on iOS or Android). What it does is link together all of the players’ devices, and then generates a randomised spaceship control panel. Then when the timer starts you must all follow the commands on screen about which buttons to press, and so on.
But there’s a problem: Sometimes commands will come up for buttons on someone else’s screen, in which case you need to shout instructions to others. As you might imagine, this gets faster and faster paced the longer you play, so you’ll be full of adrenaline by the time the recriminations about who messed up begin.
Big Web Quiz
If you have a Google Chromecast dongle plugged into your TV, you can turn it into a games system. The Big Web Quiz app on iOS and Android will flash up trivia questions on screen, and all of the players in the room answer using the app on their phone. You can have up to four players, and it is much easier than reaching all the way into the back of the cupboard to find that dusty old copy of Trivial Pursuit.
Just Dance Now
This is the product of some very clever engineering. Simply download the app to your phone and head to the Just Dance Now website on any device with a web browser, punch in the code and you can use the screen to see the steps you need to dance along with it. Your phone will score you based on measurements from the phone’s accelerometer.
As it is online, as well as a physical game, you can play against people from all over the world as well as people in the same room, and it features tracks all the way from Abba and Nena to Lady Gaga and other acts that are so achingly trendy I've never heard of them.
XCOM: The Board Game
Based on the popular videogames, XCOM is a table-top adaption that tasks you with defending humanity and stopping an alien invasion, complete with companion app.
The app works a bit like One Night Ultimate Werewolf and essentially plays Dungeon Master - picking missions, upping the stakes and creating tension. Helpfully, it’ll also teach you the rules of the game and enable you to modify the difficulty depending on how experienced you are too.
Pictionary is so 20th century, so why not instead play Party Doodles? All you need is an iPad and Apple TV - so that one player can draw, while everyone else can guess by watching the action on TV via AirPlay. You can play in teams, and there’s different levels of difficulty too.
This is a surprisingly clever concept for a game, turning the classic charades on its head. In this, the player who is “it” must hold the phone away from them - and then everyone else has to act out the scene or whatever is on the screen together as a team. More collaborative than the original, and the phone ensures that no one knows what is coming next.