Fill Twixtmas Crimbo limbo lull with 101 pen and paper games

Charades is a great family and friends game (photo: Shutterstock)Charades is a great family and friends game (photo: Shutterstock)
Charades is a great family and friends game (photo: Shutterstock)

Dozens of games to fill Crimbo limbo lull

Now that we’re fully immersed in the Crimbo Limbo lull, leading British stationery brand, Pukka Pads, has pulled together a whopping list of 101 pen and paper games which are guaranteed to keep all the family entertained for hours.

The presents have been opened, all the turkey has been eaten and you’ve watched the same five Christmas films on loop since the start of December. The family is getting restless, and your Great Uncle is starting to make comments which at any moment are bound to disrupt the house’s festive cheer.

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Don’t fear, the team at the leading British stationery brand, Pukka Pads, has pulled together a whopping list of 101 pen and paper games which are guaranteed to keep all the family entertained for hours.

All you simply need is a pen and some paper, meaning that you get to spend some quality time with loved ones having fun away from the screen.

Please note, Pukka can’t be held responsible for any family fall outs that come about as a result of an overly competitively relative.

1. Charades

Charades is a great family and friends game (photo: Shutterstock)Charades is a great family and friends game (photo: Shutterstock)
Charades is a great family and friends game (photo: Shutterstock)

Charades is great for getting all the family involved. It’s a game where players act out a word or phrase, syllable by syllable, until the other players guess the whole word or phrase.

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2. Hangman

Hangman is another popular pen and paper game (photo: Shutterstock)Hangman is another popular pen and paper game (photo: Shutterstock)
Hangman is another popular pen and paper game (photo: Shutterstock)

A game for two in which one player tries to guess the letters of a word. The other player records failed attempts by drawing gallows.

3. Noughts & Crosses

Noughts and crosses game (photo: Shutterstock)Noughts and crosses game (photo: Shutterstock)
Noughts and crosses game (photo: Shutterstock)

Another two-player game in which you seek to complete a row of either three noughts or crosses drawn in the spaces of a nine square grid.

4. Sudoku

Sudoku puzzle is great for filling the crimbo limbo lull (photo: Shutterstock)Sudoku puzzle is great for filling the crimbo limbo lull (photo: Shutterstock)
Sudoku puzzle is great for filling the crimbo limbo lull (photo: Shutterstock)

A game to play solo well known for its brain training capabilities. A puzzle where players insert the numbers one to nine into a grid consisting of nine squares subdivided into a further nine smaller squares, in such a way that every number appears once in each horizontal line, vertical line, and square.

This is one to avoid if you’ve had a couple of Eggnogs!

5. Ddakji

A traditional South Korean game that recently featured in the record-breaking Netflix series, Squid Games. The game is simple, and the aim is for one player to make the other player’s paper tile flip over on the floor. If you do manage to flip your opponent’s card, you get to keep it.

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6. Pictionary

Similar to charades but instead players draw their chosen word while the rest of their team tries to guess the word.

7. Word Watch

Wherever you are sitting, jot down as many words as you can see from your surroundings. Game 1: Come up with a short story with the words you find. Game 2: See if you can find a word for every letter in the alphabet. There are endless variations and categories you can come up with.

8. Mash

Predict your future with this simple game intended to determine your destiny by forecasting how many children you’ll have, your job and car etc. All players start by writing MASH at the top of their page and choosing 3 answers to the above listed categories. You then eliminate the different answers by choosing a number and deleting the answer you land on until you’re left with one final option.

9. Stop the Bus

A fun yet educational way to revise vocabulary and practise the alphabet with young children. Players create a table with different category titles such as animals, colours and countries and then chose a letter that the answer to each category has to begin with. Players then have to write down an item in each of the category columns that begins with the chosen letter. The first person to complete their table shouts “stop the bus!”.

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10. Squares

It’s as simple as it sounds; this can be played on any scrap piece of paper by simply making as many squares as you can out of a grid of dots. The winner is the one with the most squares.

11. Fortune Teller Game

Similar to Mash but can predict whatever you want to know, your next holiday destination or something simpler like what’s going to be your next Christmas snack of choice, a mince pie or a chocolate…

12. Alien Drawing game

Create unique, yet weirdly wonderful aliens by taking it in turns to draw an alien’s body, legs, arms, face etc. and then folding the paper to keep the design secret as you pass it among the family, until the big reveal at the end.

13. Battleships

Recreate this board game favourite but on a piece of paper, no fiddly game pieces required. Each player draws two 10 x 10 grids, labelled along the sides with letters and numbers.

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On the left-hand grid the player secretly draws rectangles representing their fleet of ships. During game the players take turns in making a shot at the opponent, by calling out the coordinates of a square (e.g. D5). The first player to lose all their ships loses the game.

14. Categories

Another grid-based game but this time players have to name objects within certain categories starting with a particular letter of the alphabet.

15. Who am I?

Each player writes the name of a famous person on a piece of paper and puts the names into a hat. Each player then picks a name and without looking places it on their forehead. Players then have to use yes or no questions to guess the identity of their chosen famous person.

16. Number Bulls & Cows

One player, the Chooser, thinks of a four-digit number and the other player, the Guesser, tries to guess it.

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17. Blind Drawing

A group will describe their chosen item without revealing what it is - they are also now allowed to see what the ‘artist’ is drawing. At the end of the activity, the team whose drawing is closest to the actual item wins.

18. Finish the Story

This is a fun group activity of storytelling with a twist. This game is best played between 2 to 8 players. The aim is to create a complete story as a team. Going around in a circle each player will contribute one sentence to the story.

19. Balderdash

One player reads out a question to the others. They each write down a made-up, but believable answer and hand it to the person who reads the question. This person then reads out all the answers and the others must guess which is actually correct.

20. Bridges

Build bridges with folded sheets of paper and see how much weight they can hold using random household items like coins or the TV remote.

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21. Nim

Super simple but super addictive! Players are challenged to take turns in removing dots from one of several rows. Players start by drawing several rows of dots on a piece of paper. A good start is three rows of 5, 7, and 9 dots.

The players now take turns in crossing out (or erasing) one or more dots from a single row. They must remove at least one dot, and they can remove any number up to the entire row. The first player unable to move loses.

22. Sim

First draw a board consisting of six dots arranged in a hexagon, with each dot connected to every other dot by a line. Players take turns colouring an uncoloured line. The first player forced to complete a triangle in their own colour loses the game.

23. Lasso

Draw a grid of dots on paper. Taking turns players start at one dot, draw a line to any other dot and circle it. Lines must stay within the confines of the grid.

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You may only circle a dot that has not yet been used and your line may not bisect any other line. When there are no available moves left, the last person to draw a lasso wins.

24. Unscramble

Write a list of 10 words, but instead of spelling them correctly, mix up the letters and challenge your opponents to unscramble them. The first player to unscramble all the words wins.

25. Words within a word

Write out a long word and set a timer for 3-5 minutes and everyone has to try to find as many smaller words as they can using only the letters in the chosen word.

26. Paper Toss

How many balls of scrap paper can you get into an empty waste bin. It’s as simple as that.

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27. Apple Tree

This is a less-macabre version of Hangman, you draw a tree with seven apples instead of gallows.

28. Paper drop

Get a group to sit in a circle, one person stands in the middle of the circle holding a piece of paper.

They must drop the piece of paper and at the same time call out the name of another person in the circle, this person must try to catch the piece of paper with two fingers before it hits the floor.

If the paper hits the floor, they must reveal an unknown fact about themselves before dropping the paper and calling out someone else’s name. If they catch the piece of paper, they keep it and do not have to reveal a fact. The winner has the most pieces of paper at the end.

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29. Doddles

Draw any shaped line and your component has to uses the line to make picture.

30. Peaceful War

Draw four squares on each end of the paper to represent your fortress. From there, play rock, paper, scissors to decide who gets to make a move.

For each move, you can draw shields to protect your grounds or draw tanks and other weapons to ‘take down’ each other’s fortress. Let your imagination run wild – this game can literally go on forever.

31. Paper airplanes

We don’t need to explain this one!

32. Alphabet Game

Think of a word for each letter of the alphabet. The fastest wins.

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33. Word Square

Draw a 4 x 4 square and take turns calling out a letter. As each letter is called out, players must write it somewhere on their grid. The goal is to make as many four-letter words as possible.

34. Pen & Paper telephone “Gossip”

Everyone draws a picture at the top of their paper and passes the paper to their left. Then each player captions the picture and folds it so only the last sentence shows.

The paper is passed again, and the next player draws a picture to fit the sentence. This continues until the paper is full. The paper is then unfolded to reveal a funny story.

35. Connect 4

Players take turns in marking squares on a grid and the first player to get four squares in a row wins.

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36. SOS

SOS is played on a grid of squares of any size, usually 3 x 3. Two players attempt to label sequential squares either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally with SOS.

Once a player succeeds, they take another turn and continue until they cannot create any more.

37. The Name Game

A twist on charades, this time acting out famous people.

38. Flick Football

Create a goal and see how many paper balls you can score in 1 minute.

39. Contour Drawing

Contour drawing is an artistic technique where the artist draws their opponent without taking the pen off the page!

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40. Art Director

To begin, the Art Director conceals their sheet of paper from the group and begins to draw a picture bit by bit.

Then, as they continue their drawing, they must instruct the group as to how to draw the concealed picture. The aim is to have the same drawings at the end.

41. Word Ladders

A word ladder puzzle begins with two words and to solve the puzzle one must find a chain of other words to link the two, in which two adjacent words differ by one letter.

42. Scrambled Word Ladders

The same as above but instead you change the letter order.

43. Pangrams

A pangram is a sentence using every letter of the alphabet at least once. Two players have to choose a topic and then try to come up with a sentence before one another.

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44. Obstruction

This game is played on a 6 x 6 gris. One player is 'O' and the other is 'X'.

Players take turns in writing their symbol in an empty cell.

Placing a symbol this then blocks all of the neighbouring cells from both players, and this is indicated by shading them in. The first player unable to move loses.

45. 24

Two players each secretly write two numbers between 1 and 10 on a piece of paper. They then simultaneously reveal the numbers and try to reach exactly 24 by combining the numbers using only addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and brackets. The first player to announce a solution wins.

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46. Number Countdown

One player secretly writes two large numbers (25, 50, 75, or 100) and four small numbers (from 1 to 10) on a piece of paper.

The other player secretly writes a three-digit target. After revealing the numbers and target, both players then have to try and get as near to the target as possible.

47. Function Game

The Chooser thinks of a rule that converts one number into another. The Guesser then tries to guess the rule by testing it with different numbers.

48. Word Bulls & Cows

This is exactly like the numerical version except instead of 4-digit numbers, 4-letter words are used.

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49. Countdown

Players take turns in choosing letters until 9 letters have been named. They then try to construct a word using just those letters.

50. Lexicant

The first player writes a letter on a sheet of paper. The players then take turns in adding a letter to the beginning or end of this to form part of a word, but avoid actually completing a word.

The first player forced to create a word, of at least three letters, loses.

51. Conundrum

One player thinks of a nine-letter word and makes an anagram of the word. The other player then tries to find the word from the anagram.

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52. Art Gallery

Take turns in naming an object which each player has to incorporate into a drawing.

53. Domineering

Draw one 7 x 7 grid of dots. Players then take turns in linking a pair of adjacent dots.

The first player, Blue, always makes a vertical link, and the other player, Red, always makes a horizontal link. No dot can be linked more than once. The first player unable to move loses.

54. Gale

To create the board first draw a rectangular array of 4 x 5 blue dots. Then draw an overlapping array of 5 x 4 red dots. The players take turns in linking two adjacent dots of their own colour.

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No two links may cross. The first player to form a chain of links across the board, from top to bottom (blue) or left to right (red), wins.

55. Order & Chaos

Similar to noughts and crosses, on a 6x6 grid one player ‘Order’ tries to get 5 symbols in order, ‘Chaos’ tries to stop this.

56. Hackenbush

One player draws a picture consisting of dots joined by edges. Part of the picture should stand on the ground, represented by a dashed line.

The players then take turns in removing an edge. Any other parts of the picture that are no longer attached to the ground fall off and are deleted. Last player able to move wins.

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57. Tennis

Draw a court by dividing a piece of paper into four columns. Blue takes the left-hand half of the court, and Red the right-hand half. The ball starts in the centre.

The players start with 50 points each. At each move both players write down how many of their points to spend on the next move.

The player who wrote the highest number moves the ball towards the other player. Both players then subtract their number from their remaining points. Play continues in this way until either the ball is knocked out of the court, or neither player has any points left.

58. Why?

Because - Write down a question beginning with ‘Why’, fold and pass to next person who writes an answer starting with ‘Because’ without looking at the question.

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59. Memory Games

In this game, write common things on scraps of paper, such as a pencil, key, marble, fork, penny. Cover them with another sheet of paper.

Show these again for 30 seconds, cover them again and have the players write down as many as they can name. The player with the most correct items wins the game.

60. Mafia

A detection game of guess who committed the crime. Roles must be assigned to each person in secret and will be done so by drawing names from a hat.

There will be three members of the mafia, one detective, one doctor, one narrator, and eight civilians. Be sure they are all kept under wraps and do not tell anyone your identity.

61. Password

Guess the word by receiving a one-word clue.

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62. Word Finder

Write six random letters on top of a piece of paper. Note: It’s vital to include at least one vowel. Set a timer. The player who manages to create the most words out of the letters listed wins.

63. Sightless drawings

The drawer from each team is blindfolded and tasked with drawing a simple item like a bike or a rocket ship. After drawing the picture, the images are presented before the judges and the most accurate picture wins.

64. Racetrack

Best played on a sheet of squared paper, all players start with their car (dot) on the starting line. Each turn you must travel by repeating the previous turn path plus one square in any direction. To win you must get to the finish line first.

65. Paper Game War

Each player draws a fort on their side of the paper (a half box on the edge of the paper with a flag). Each player draws five stick figure soldiers on their side. The object of the game is to take out the opponent by "shooting" his players and fort.

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66. Morse Code

Print out a copy of the Morse Code and have fun writing secret messages for your family to work out!

67. Pencil Rubbings

Place a piece of paper over any household item and use coloured pencils to reveal a traced design.

68. Funny Flips

Fold paper in thirds and write a different noun on each side of the paper in the upper third. Write a different verb on each side of the paper in the middle third.

Write a different adverb on each side of the paper in the bottom third. Now flip the flaps to reveal funny sentences.

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69. Fictionairy

Look up a word in the dictionary and think of two fictional meanings. Try to make them as bold and outrageous as you can, while keeping them believable. The other team must guess the correct meaning.

70. Design your own maze

Make it as complicated as you can and see if your family can reach the middle.

71. Kaladont

One person starts by writing a word that is longer than two letters. Then the next person has to say a word that starts with the last two letters of the previous word.

The trick is not to say a word that ends with the letters “ka”, because the winner of the round who gets a point is the person who gets to say “kaladont”.

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72. The ‘Toast’ game

Each player takes turns drawing something that would logically beat (or be immune to) the last thing drawn. This goes on until the opponent gives up.

73. Race

One person draws a track, preferably one with a good mix of turns, straightaways, and narrow points, and a start/finish line. Everyone grabs a pen and tries to complete the track with their eyes closed.

74. Origami

Follow a tutorial and see how creative you can be by using different types of coloured paper.

75. Dungeons & Dragons

A traditional fantasy roleplaying game reliant on the players’ imagination, Dungeons & Dragons allows players to construct their own adventure story by using dice to determine their actions and consequences.

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There are a number of different variations and rules for the game. No board game necessary, just a sheet of paper!

76. Dots, Boxes, Dice

Mark the page just like the dots and boxes, now instead of randomly joining lines, players roll a dice two times and mark a grid of the size.

For example, if the dice rolls give two and four, a player can mark a grid of size 2 x 4 anywhere on the page and put his initials in it. Second player than rolls the dice and so on.

77. Secrets

Everyone writes one secret on piece of paper, fold and puts it in a hat. Take a piece of paper randomly and read the secret out loud and others have to try to guess who’s it is based on the little information you have from the paper.

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78. Magic Square

Draw a 3 x 3 square box and the objective is to make each row, column and diagonal add up to the magic total of 30. To make the game harder, create a grid with some magic squares already containing a random selection of numbers.

79. Bunch of Grapes

Draw a bunch of grapes, each player picks a grape for their ‘fly’ to start on. Take turns moving to adjacent grapes. Whoever ends up unable to move with no adjacent grapes is the loser.

80. Black Hole

Draw a pyramid of 21 circles, start with 6 on bottom then 5 etc. Take turns writing 1 in the circle of your choice, then 2,3 etc. in order. After you both write 10, there is 1 circle left, the black hole. The black hole destroys all its neighbouring circles; whoever has a greater sum of numbers left over is the winner.

81. Imparium

You begin by drawing a grid of 6 x 6 squares and players then take turns filling in pairs of adjacent squares. Aim is to control the non-filled squares by using yours to close off an odd number of squares. The winner has the most squares at the end.

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82. Snake Fight

Each player begins with a 5x5 box of dots, and the snakes begin in opposite corners. You take turns extending your snake via vertical, horizontal, or diagonal lines.

Your snake can never cross or touch itself and cannot trace over a segment that has already been drawn. Goal is to cross the enemy snake as many times as possible. The game continues until no one can move.

83. Collector

Create a 6 x 6 grid and each player takes it in turns to mark any box. The winner creates the largest group of connected marks, play until no more moves are possible.

84. Bingo

Why not jazz up a typical game of bingo by creating a card full of your festive favourites such as mince pies, Christmas jumpers and crackers?

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85. Crossword

Make it Christmas themed and see how many words you can fit into one crossword grid.

86. Boggle

In a 4 x 4 grid of letters make as many words as possible in two minutes. All words created must be at least 3 letters long.

87. 21

This game is very simple, in a group you must take turns to write from 1 to 21. On each turn each player has the choice to count up by 1, 2, or 3 numbers. The loser is the person who has to write 21, so be strategic!

88. Random Drawing

One person draws a quick squiggle and the other has the challenge of making a drawing out of it.

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89. Draw by Numbers

Design your own draw by numbers template. Start by keeping it simple by drawing a triangular Christmas tree and then work your way up to a more complex design.

90. P.A.N.T.S (Place, Animal, Name, Thing, and Score)

To play this game, one person picks a random letter from the alphabet. Players then list down a place, animal, name and thing that starts with the chosen letter in 45 seconds.

91. Paper Folding

No skills required, simply see who can fold a piece of paper the most times in 45 seconds.

92. Paper Golf

Fold a piece of paper in half and each player draws five small ‘holes’ on their half. Then player 1 draws a golf ball on their half in the spot where they think the mirror image of one of Player 2’s holes would be.

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Fold in half, now draw a small filled-in circle on the back of their half of the board – on the reverse of the first filled in golf ball circle they drew.

This transfers the pencil graphite onto Player 2’s side of the board. Unfold the paper. If the transfer of the filled-in circle is inside the hollow circle, Player 1 has successfully got their ball into the hole!

93. Poetry Consequences

The first player must write two rhyming lines, plus a third line, before folding the paper so that the third line is shown. The second player must complete the couplet started by the first player, before writing their own first line. This continues around the circle until the paper is full up.

94. Penalty

Each player writes down a number secretly and the other player has to guess it. The difference between the secret number and guessed number is your ‘penalty’. The player with the lowest penalty wins.

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95. Snowball Fight

Pretty self-explanatory, screw up scrap paper into a ball and have a ‘snowball’ fight with your chums. This works particularly well if you have a rather irritating sibling!

96. Crossline

Draw a circle with ten dots evenly spaced and draw a line to connect two dots (not adjacent). Take turns to do this however you are only allowed to cross over another line once. The last legal move wins.

97. Go-Moku

The game is played on a large piece of squared paper, at least 15 x 15. Players take turns in marking a square with their symbol (e.g. 'O' and 'X'). The first player to get five squares in a row, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, wins.

98. Quiz

Come up with a general knowledge quiz to find out who is really the smart one in your family. Why not try sneaking in a few personal questions as well!

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99. Shoot

To start, draw two goals on two ends of the paper. Then, hold the top of your pen with your index finger, mark a spot in front of your goal, and flick the pen towards the direction you want to ‘shoot’.

The endpoint of the line would then indicate the position of the ‘football’. From there, just take turns ‘shooting’ until someone scores a goal. Trust us, it's a lot more exciting than it sounds.

100. Acrostics

Players choose any word of 3 to 6 letters as the keyword. Each player writes the word down the left-hand side of their page and writes it up the right-hand side of their page, with enough room between the columns to fill in other words.

Each player then has 3 minutes to fill in the spaces within the column with a series of words that start with the letters from the left-hand column and end with the letters from the right-hand column.

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101. Snakes and Ladders

For the more creative amongst us, challenge yourself to illustrate a Snake and Ladders game board or for those more strapped for time, download a printable version and let the games commence!

With more than 1,000 stationery products that sit across over 30 dynamic ranges, Pukka Pads has everything you need to play these games over the Christmas break, including pens, notebooks and squared paper pads. To shop the full range, visit website.