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Game Guide: Connected Stories

There is no doubt: the holidays bring people together, in the same room whether you like it or not. We at Ziksana are here to prep you on how to bring people together, on another level.

It’s inevitable that when a large group of people gets together, you may feel more comfortable with certain members of your family rather than others.  Perhaps it’s your sibling, a close cousin, or a grandparent…but one thing is certain,  it’s easy to reconnect.  

But, with others, the holidays can tend to bring about awkward or interesting interactions with folks like, let’s say, ‘Aunt Nancy’, who you haven’t seen since you were ten years old. Or ‘Uncle Bob’ from Kansas who you are still convinced you may not actually be related to.

No matter what your holiday experience may be, these two simple games can be used to create moments of connection and belonging or to redirect uncomfortable family conversations toward more playful interactions.

Give them a try!

Word Association

This is a foundational comedic improvisation game often used to warm up professional troupes. Participants simply stand in a circle and someone picks a category, such as “animals”. A player then calls out “giraffe” while pointing to another family member. That receiver of the word then calls out “elephant” and points to another family member to continue passing the play around until someone gets stuck and can’t think of an answer.

Feel free to encourage speed to get folks more engaged and create more of a challenge. You can also play without a category after the first few rounds by guiding players to elicit the first word that comes to mind. The quicker the better. Here are some categories to consider as the night goes on:

Car models


Things Alex Trebec would say

Things Aunty Nancy is known for

You can learn a lot about each other in a short amount of time by playing these fun, fast-paced game that are easy to take with you and play anywhere.

Connected Stories

Form two circles of people, each with at least 3 people. Get two pads of sticky notes and two pens, one for each team. Set a timer for 12 minutes. A non-player can pick any word for teams to begin with, such as “balloon”. One player on each team begins and tells a very short story about anything related to the word “balloon”. For example, I could say, “I am excited to go on a hot air balloon ride that my boyfriend won at work. I hope he takes me for my birthday.” I will pass the sticky note pad with the word balloon to the person next to me, who will pick out a different keyword from my story, such as “birthday”. He will write down the word “birthday”, and proceed to tell a short story involving that word, such as, “My birthday was last week. My wife and I had a great time snowboarding in Mammoth.” The pad of paper is passed, and the next person can pick out a keyword from that short story to tell about, such as, “wife”, “snowboarding”, or “mammoth”. That new word is written down, and the chain of connected stories continues.

When the timer bell rings, teams count the number of keywords written down. The team with the most keywords wins. (But really, everybody wins because players now know each other better, conversation starters are now more easily available, and you can be more of yourselves together after just a few minutes of guided warm-up!)

We encourage you to take the lead and become the play guide of your family. The science of play tells us the benefits are plentiful, and really, what do you have to lose?

Happy Holidays from our families to yours! Enjoy time together to laugh, play and be merry.

We want to know what games you are playing with your family! Share with us on our Facebook page.


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