I’m always on the hunt for fun new games that will hold the attention of teens and pre-teens—especially during LOTS of family time with cousins and friends throughout the holidays. We were introduced to this gem a few years ago by a good friend and it’s been a favorite. When I share with people how fun it is, they immediately want to know how to play so they can introduce it to their friends and gatherings. Last Christmas season we played it countless times (with as few as 8 and as many as 25 people). It’s a winner! Here’s why:

  • It’s multi-generational—you’ll love watching your people ages 6 – 96 engage with each other in really sweet ways
  • It requires few supplies and you probably already have them on hand: strips of paper and pens/pencils are all you need
  • The number of people who can play is flexible (odd or even number of players—doesn’t matter)
  • It guarantees laughter, conversation, learning, and incessant pleas from the younger generation of “Let’s play it again!”


How to Play:

Everyone sits in a circle around the room—in chairs, on couches, on the floor, wherever they’re comfortable.

Cut strips of paper and pass them around, along with pens or pencils.

Each person secretly writes a name on one of the strips of paper.

The name could be a celebrity, movie or TV actor, historical figure, high school teacher, neighbor, etc.

Players can be strategic by not choosing a person that would be “obviously” their choice. Consider going against type. Pick a younger name (Justin Bieber, maybe) if you’re part of the older generation or an older name (Frank Sinatra?) if you’re in the younger crowd. This is where it gets even more fun.

Fold the papers and put them in a bowl.


Choose a designated Reader. That person reads through the names once, while everyone else listens. She then reads through them a second time. (Hint: careful listening is key to success.) Then the game begins.

The person to left of the Reader chooses one person around the circle and asks him or her if they are one of the names that was read.  “Dad, are you Ferris Bueller?”

If Dad answers “No,” the asker’s turn is over and the next person in the circle gets to ask whomever he or she chooses if they are one of the names.

If Dad answers, “Yes,” (if he’s the person who wrote Ferris Bueller on his piece of paper), Dad becomes part of the family of the person who asked the question. Dad then gets up and joins the asker at their place in the circle. The two of them are allowed to talk quietly and decide who in the circle to ask next.


If they guess correctly, that person whom they guessed joins their growing family. The family may continue to confer and make asks as long as they guess correctly. When they make a wrong guess, the turn passes to the next person in the circle.

As the game progresses, “families” grow in size around the room. When one family guesses the head of another family (the person in that family whose name has not been previously guessed; in other words, the original “asker” who started that family), that person—and their entire family—cross the room to join the family that guessed them. Then they all work together to figure out the remaining people who haven’t been guessed.Sometimes, in the swirl of the game, the names that were read at the beginning of the game are forgotten. This will lead to a lot of collaboration and conversation as families try to remember which names are left.


The goal of the game is to be the last person “standing” who hasn’t been guessed: he or she is the head of the family.

Within seconds after the winner of the game is revealed (the very last person to be guessed), cheers will begin to play again!