Five Games You Can Play Without Getting Up

If you’re anything like me, you will feel terrible if your family spends Thanksgiving gorging on heavy food and then slouching in front of the TV. But you also have no intention of going outside and exerting yourself, because you definitely want to gorge on heavy food. What to do?

I’m hoping to nudge my family into playing some games after the big meal — nice games, easy games, with no running around or sitting entirely upright. Here are a few of our favorites:


Jebrahamadiah and Balthazar (also called “Master and Servant”)

I am not sure why my kids call this one “Jebrahamadiah and Balthazar,” except that (a) it has something to do with the Jeb! flyers we kept getting in the mail, and (b) they are weirdos.

THE RULES: One person gives orders, the other person explains why he can’t carry them out. The answer has to be part of a consistent narrative — you can’t just make up a new excuse for each command.

Here is an abbreviated example. The longer you can draw it out, the funnier it gets:

Jebrahamadiah! Go get me a glass of water.
I would, but I just broke the last glass.
Then go get me a cup of water.
I would, but when I broke the glass, I cut my finger, and I can’t use my hand.
Well, use your other hand.
I would, but when I was searching for a Band-aid for my one hand, I slammed the medicine chest door on my finger, and now both hands are useless.
Then call an ambulance.
I can’t, because, if you’ll recall, my hands don’t work.
Then use the speaker phone.
I would, but when I slammed the medicine chest door, some nail polish remover fell on my phone and now the speaker doesn’t work.
Then just shout out the window for help.
I would, but the neighbors saw me wrecking my phone, and he’s a big jerk, and laughed so hard that he drove off the road and now he’s in a coma.
Well, shout out the other window on the other side of the house.
I would, but when the other neighbor drove off the road, he knocked a utility pole down, and a live wire landed on the house on the other side and now it’s on fire, so I don’t want to bother them.
Well . . . okay, fine, I’ll get my own water.



This one can be played all day long, while cooking, while setting the table, during the meal, and so on, until you put your foot down and tell them to knock it off or you’re going to strangle somebody.

THE RULES: Life goes on as normal, until someone shouts, “Shatner!” — and then everyone has to do what they’re doing as William Shatner.

I actually stink at this game, but my kids are horrifyingly good at it.

Companion game: Duchovny

Pretty much the opposite of Shatner. You respond in such an understated way that people have to fight the urge to check your vital signs.



This one benefits more than others from either having a few glasses of wine in you, or being eleven years old (I cannot recommend both).

THE RULES: You sing songs, but instead of “I,” “me,” or “mine,” you say “Greg.”

There’s “With or Without Greg” by U2; “Amazing Grace” (How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like Greg); and who can forget that sentimental ballad from The Music Man, “Till There Was Greg.”

Extra points if one of your guests is actually named Greg.


One Syllable Off

This one is either much easier or much harder to do when you’ve had a few drinks, depending on what kind of “had a few drinks” person you are.

THE DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE RULES: All you do is sing a song with the normal lyrics, but you start singing the first syllable on the second note:

So instead of :

Take . . .ME-out-to-the-BALL . . . game . . .
Take . . . ME-out-with-the-crowd . . . .
BUY-me-some-peanuts-and-CRACK . . . er-jacks . . .
I . . . don’t-care-if-we-NE-ver-get-back . . .
So-it’s-root . . . root-root-for-the-home . . . team . . .

you sing:

[beat] TAKE-me-out-to-THE . . . ball . . .
Game . . . TAKE-me-out-with-the . . .
CROWD-buy-me-some-pea-nuts-AND . . . crack-er . . .
Jacks . . . I-don’t-care-if-WE-never-get . . .
Back . . . so-IT’S-root-root-root . . .

and so on. I think I got mixed up in there somewhere. If you find this confusing, you’re in the right frame of mind for this game.


In the manner of the adverb

Okay, this one has a little bit of getting up and doing stuff, but if you’re smart, you can keep it pretty tame.

THE RULES: One person thinks of an adverb, and everyone else has to guess what it is, by watching him do things in the manner of that adverb.

For instance, say I’m thinking about “bitterly.” The other shout, “Make some biscuits in the manner of the adverb!” so you commence muttering resentfully about the stupid butter not being cold enough, and how everybody else has a pastry blender, but you have to get along with two pathetic butter knives, and how you certainly hope they appreciate how much trouble you went to, but it doesn’t seem likely, and so on. And they shout out words like “Resentfully?” or “Angrily?” until someone guesses it.

In other news, I definitely need to get the baking started. Humph. Where’s my butter knives?