Four paper and pencil travel games with a holiday twist

After reading the news about people being stuck in various airports and bus stations where hours have led to days because of the bad weather we’re having, I thought of travel games they might want to play in order to pass the time.

All a person needs is someone to play with, paper and a writing implement. A crayon will do–or a small nub of a pencil. If a piece of paper isn’t available, look to napkins.

These games would also work at a family or friends get together and can be adapted for any age group. You can make them as hard or as easy as you want. Each can be played by more than two people, but you’ll need at least two, except for the last one.

Each of the four games are games I’ve played at various times. To see what I envision this group playing, keep reading.

Game 1:. Hangman Santa- This is a version of regular Hangman, but you can see where I’ve added a Santa hat and sack.

  • To play this game, draw a rough sketch of a gallows as shown in the finished picture. One person thinks of a word and draws short horizontal lines, one for each letter of the word. I thought of the word “travel.”
  • The other person calls out letters.
  • If the letter is in the word, the player who thought of the word, writes the letter on the appropriate line. If the letter is not there, the player draws part of a person, starting with the head.
  • With each wrong guess, a body part is added. If the opponent guesses the word before the entire person and the Santa hat and sack are drawn, that person gets a point.
  • If the entire Santa is drawn, the person loses and the point goes to the opponent.
  • Then you switch roles, and it’s the other person’s turn.
  • I can see where hanging Santa might seem grim, so you could draw a sleigh instead, although the name of the game is Hangman. I don’t know why–it just is.

Game 2: Categories (with a holiday twist)– To play this game, give each player a piece of paper and a writing implement.

  • Players divide the paper into at least five columns.
  • Across the top of each column, write the names of categories like “names,” “cities,” “countries,” “holiday songs” and “food.” The last column is “total.”
  • Then one person starts saying the alphabet to him or herself until one of the players tells him or her to stop. Whatever letter the person stops at is the letter for that round. The person tells the players that letter and each person thinks of a word that fits the category that starts with that letter. The players write the words they come up with on their own paper.
  • For example, if the letter is “J”, my answers might be “Jerry,” “Jackson,” “Jordan,” “Joy to the World” and “jello.”
  • Whoever finishes first says “Stop.” At that point, everyone must stop writing.
  • Then you calculate points by sharing answers. Each answer no one else has equals 15 points. If one person has the answer, it’s worth 10 points. If more than one person has the answer, it’s worth 5 points.
  • Add up your points for each column and write that in total.
  • Keep playing rounds until you’re tired of the game. Whoever has the most points wins.

By the way, if the same letter is picked, pick again, or any of the repeat answers don’t count. To make harder, add categories. To make easier, remove categories, and think of easier topics.

Game 3: Dots (To make this one have a holiday theme, use green and red pens, pencils or crayons.)

  • Draw dots in rows. 10 dots across and 10 dots down as shown in the picture.
  • Each person takes turns connecting two dots with a straight line, either horizontal or vertical.
  • The object is to eventually start making boxes. If you can make a box by drawing one line, write you initial in that box.
  • Sometimes you’ll be able to draw more than one box. You can only connect two dots at a time, however, but if you end up drawing a line to connect two dots and then you only need to draw one more line to make another box, you can do that one too.

Whoever has the most boxes by the time all dots are used, wins. To make the game harder and take longer, add rows of dots. In the pictured game, the other person is winning. (O = other person)

Game 4: Word Creation

  • Write the word “Happy Holidays” on a piece of paper. See how many words you can make with the letters in Happy Holidays.
  • You can only use the number of letters that are in the word. For example, there are only two a’s so your word can only have two a’s.
  • You can use letters more than once with each new word.
  • Words have to be at least three letters, (if playing with small children, don’t use this rule.
  • Whoever has the most words by the time limit you decide on wins.

Here are three words to get you started.” happy ” “holidays” and “play.”