The Best New Years Game Is the One in Which You Make Decisions for Other People

About ten years ago, I was at a New Years brunch party. To be honest, I didn’t really want to go. This particular time of my life was the lowest; I had just gone through a breakup, felt unusually lonely and wanted to roll around at home. But the hostess was a good friend, and she invited other interesting, cool people to a good restaurant … so I dragged my feeble, slightly hungover downtown.

It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable New Years I have ever attended. The other four guests were strangers or almost strangers, but they were all cheerful, cheerful people who knew how to keep up a conversation. And then the hostess offered to play a game in which we accept the New Year’s promises, but instead of swearing to do something ourselves, we will make decisions for each other.

This game has two parts:

Physical, Spiritual, or Unreasonable Direction

First, everyone writes a resolution on a piece of paper and puts it in a cap. Then everyone draws one (throwing paper back if you have your own). These resolutions should be widely applicable because you don’t know who will paint what you wrote (so no, “I will lose thirty pounds” or “I will learn to cook”). Self-care is good. Frivolous is good. Even existential and spiritual things are good.

One decision was made in our group: “Every morning, as soon as I wake up, I bend over and touch my toes ten times, then spread my arms to the side, swing them like” jazz hands “and scream.” show time! “

I wrote a resolution to “learn how to do one thing in the kitchen that drove me to a standstill.” What I drew was “Practice the art of listening.”


Each one shows what kind of resolution they wrote. Then the group disperses for an hour. At that hour, you go and choose a gift (worth under $ 10) for the person who wrote their permission for you based on the decision they received. So Bernie, who wrote my resolution, got the decision to “include more music in my life.” So in my hour I bought him a book on music theory from a local used book store.

Obviously, this game is different from other games. It is not competitive. In fact, there is not even a goal. It ties in with surreal games like Exquisite Corpse , where the goal of the game is to collaborate and have fun.

Don’t like this game? I have others!

Is this too feeble-minded for you, or maybe you don’t want to include a part of the purchase for a gift? Try these two options:

1) Two truths and a lie: Everyone walks around the room and announces their two real decisions and one decision, which is a complete lie. The room needs to figure out which one is fake. (Is two too many? Make one and one. Or two lies and truth.)

2) Guessing game: everyone writes down their solution on a piece of paper (or types it if everyone is familiar with the handwriting of the others). The facilitator reads each resolution out loud, and everyone has to guess which resolution is right for which person. The winner is the one who gave the most correct answers.

I love these games because they bring a kind of (controlled, not intimidating) intimacy to social gatherings: together we recognize that New Years heralds a symbolic start to a new life. Decisions are fundamentally a determination to do more and better, and sometimes it’s not a specific decision that matters – it’s the feeling that someone is rooting for you. Even for New Year’s brunch.


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