Turn Family Party Games into Writing Prompts

apples to apples

The Holiday season is upon us. And I don’t know about you guys, but my family loves to play family party games like Apples to Apples. It is a good way to avoid vicious arguments about politics. A lot of these games, though, make excellent writing prompts. So when everyone starts drinking the eggnog and yelling at each other, just sneak away with your notebook or lap top and get your Holiday write time on.

Like my Leave it to Chance exercise, the point of these writing prompts is not to write Pulitzer Prize winning masterpieces, but rather to have fun, get loose, and stretch your creativity. These are all things you will use later when you are writing your masterpiece 🙂

Apples to Apples 


Apples to Apples is the great came of comparisons. Someone basically lays down a green card, which is an adjective like crazy, scary, pretty, melancholy, etc. Then you have to pick the best red card (noun) that goes with the green card. But it’s a fun party game because the “judge” rotates every round–the person who decides which combination is the best. So the object is to pick the best card that you think that particular person would like. This is basically how the game Cards Against Humanity works, but that one is a lot LESS family friendly!

Writing Prompt: Take three red cards (nouns) and three green cards (green) and randomly pair them up. You will get combinations like “scary going to church” or “playful Adolf Hitler.” Write a short story that somehow includes all three combinations. (If you are doing this with Cards Against Humanity, you can just imagine how ridiculous this could get.)




Balderdash rewards knowledge and creativity. Players are given a word and they each write down what they think the definition is. The definition guesses are then read aloud and voted on. A player gets points if their definition is correct but you can also earn points if people vote for your proposed definition. 

This is a super fun game to play, especially for writers and creative types who like to make stuff up. Actually just the act of playing this game will stretch your creativity and could be a great exercise for a writer, but take it one step further.

Writing Prompt: While playing the game, jot down the funniest or most interesting definitions that people come up with. Expand on them and write a short story.




I’ve played so many games of Taboo, it’s ridiculous. This game never gets old. Basically, in this game, you have to describe something to the player on your team like “The United States of America” without using the basic words most people would use to describe it like “country,” “nation,” “freedom,” “bald eagle,” etc. (I don’t think that’s a real example!)

Writing Prompt: Pick a random card. Write a poem about the main word on the card without using any of the other words. So if the word is “garden,” write a poem about a garden without using the words “green,” “plant,” “greenhouse,” “lawn,” “yard,” or “cultivate.” (*Note* There was a prompt very similar to this one in the 30 Day Poetry Challenge last year or the year before where we all had to write poems about lemons without using the words “yellow,” “sour,” “juicy,” etc. and the results were pretty awesome.)

So there you have it. The Holiday season is always a time of hectic running around, presents, parties, etc., and you may get some time off from work or school. That, however, is no reason you shouldn’t still be stretching your creativity and growing as a writer! The great thing about these exercises, though, is that you can just have fun with them.


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