Playing the Thing Game with Grandchildren

Play the Thing Game with your family on New Year's Eve.
My upscale niece (and her husband) from New York taught us another fun game on New Year’s Day while we were at my mother’s home. It’s called Things. Here’s how it works.

Select a player to be the reader.  The reader decides a topic about ‘things.’  Such as ‘things you can buy at the mall’ or ‘things to eat as a snack’ or ‘things to do that drives your siblings crazy.’

Give each player a slip of paper. Have them write an answer to that topic and give the paper to the reader without letting anybody see what was written. The reader then says the answers out loud.  The players go around the circle trying to guess which person wrote which answer. If a player guessed correctly, the person whose answer was guessed correctly is ‘out’ for that round of play.  The player who guessed correctly keeps guessing until he makes an incorrect guess.  Then the play goes to the next person.  The last person left wins the round.

On the new round, the person sitting next to the left of the reader is the new reader.  She selects a different topic, people write down a response, and people try guessing who said what.

To make this challenging, you can write down something that is not in line with the type of thing that people might normally connect with you.  Say that the topic was things you can buy at the mall.  My family knows that I am an avid reader.  So if I wrote ‘a book,’ everyone would immediately think of me.  To throw them off, I could write something like long boarder pants since I am not into long boarding!

Now that I’ve explained the game, I just have to tell you what happened while we were playing.  The topic was ‘things you don’t want your mother to know.’ Some of the answers were ‘how many people you kissed in high school’ and ‘that you broke a window’ and ‘your grade in your math class in your first semester as a freshman in college.’

We were having a hard time guessing who wrote about the grade they got as a college freshman.  Someone finally guessed correctly.  It was my sister who wrote that.  We started harassing her about the grade.

“Was it a one-legged A?” I asked — meaning was it an F.

“Was it a D?”

“Come on!  Tell us what it was!”

There was lots of laughter and good-natured joking about it.  During all of this hullabaloo, my mother quietly got up, left the room, and then came back.  She held out two pieces of paper to my sister.

“Do you mean these grades?” she asked.

We immediately burst into gut-busting laughter. My mother had produced my sister’s report card from her first semester in college from forty years ago!  I don’t know who was more surprised: my sister that my mom really had her grades or the rest of the family to see the look on my sister’s face.

We laughed and laughed.  It took us over 10 minutes to settle down.

My mother has moved three times in the last 40 years.  What are the odds that she would still have a copy of my sister’s grades?  When asked why she still had them, she merely said, “I just thought that someday it might be interesting to see them.”

So, who would have thought that topic would have been selected.  Who would have thought that my sister would have written about a poor grade from a college class she took forty years ago.  And who would have thought that my mother would really still have a copy of those grades after all of these years!

So, gather your children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors, or random man off the street and play this game.  There’s no preparation and it’s a hoot to play!

(NOTE: You can buy the game for $30.  Or you can play it without purchasing it.  We did and it turned out just fine.  In fact, it turned out hilarious!)

3 thoughts on “Playing the Thing Game with Grandchildren

  • Lydia Harris

    What a of wealth of ideas you share! Thank you. I’m glad to find this site.
    Last year AMG Publishers released my book, Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting (for grandparents at any stage of the journey).
    It affirms grandparents in their significant roles, helps them pass on their values, and offers tools to become the best grandparents you can be. You can learn more at

    Happy grandparenting!
    Grandma Tea (as I’m called)

  • Lisa

    I recently played this with some friends and it was a lot of fun. I love the games that encourage conversation — and telling of tales that wouldn’t normally come about through regular chit-chat around the table.

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