Stack the deck for fun with our staffers’ favorite card games! They’re perfect for holiday gatherings.

family playing card game
Credit: Ocean Photography/ Veer

1. Spoons

Start by setting out spoons—one less than the number of players!—in the middle of the table and dealing out four cards to each player. Place the rest of the deck next to the dealer. The dealer picks up a card from the deck, and then passes one from his hand to the next player. He continues to do this as the cards are passed around the circle until someone scores four of a kind—and sneakily takes a spoon from the middle. “Once people catch on, it’s a mad dash to grab one before they’re all gone,” says senior editor Liz Schnabolk. The odd one out gets the letter S for the first infraction, P the next time, etc., until “Spoon” is spelled out and he’s out of the game. Last player standing wins!

2. Cheat

The dealer starts by dealing out all the cards evenly, with any extras placed face down in a discard pile in the middle of the table. One player starts and announces how many aces he has, and puts them face down on the pile. The next player does the same with “twos,” the next with “threes,” and so on. Or at least they pretend to do so. Ready to call a bluff? You better be right or you have to pick up the whole pile! (If you do catch the player in a fib, he picks up the whole pile.) “It’s funny when you realize who’s good at lying—little kids and grandmas will surprise you,” says associate beauty editor Shannon Bauer. First player to get rid of all his cards wins!

3. 31

“We love this because you can play with a huge group, just use two decks,” says editor-in-chief Elizabeth Shaw. Everyone starts off with three cards and three “chips.” (You can use pennies, buttons, or actual snacks!) The dealer then takes the next card and turns it face up on the table to make a discard pile, and places the rest of the deck face down next to it. Moving clockwise, each player takes a turn picking up a card from either pile and then placing one in the discard pile. The point is to get as close to 31—all in the same suit—as fast as possible. (Ace is worth 11 points, face cards are 10, and all others are their number value.) When you’re at 31, you knock the table and everyone gets one more turn. There’s always hilarious drama “What?! You’re knocking already?!” “Oh man, I got nothin’…NOTHIN’,” adds Shaw. The player with the lowest hand loses a “chip,” and once you lose all three you’re out. Last person standing scores the whole lot! Really, what’s more awesome than beating out 10 or 12 people for a “pot” of oyster crackers?

Family Fun