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  • Paul Deichmann


improv games to help foster holiday spirit through storytelling and collaboration

As Winter’s long nights and short days wear on, we gather with our loved ones to be bright beacons of light for each other in the bleak months. Whatever holidays we celebrate, we do so in the aim of connecting with those we love and together staving off grim weather in favor of joy, celebration, and remembrance. But whether we come together with family or friends, the holidays can be a time where our stress levels rise. According to a 2023 survey from the American Psychological Association, around 41% of Americans (two in five!) reported that their stress levels increase from November to January, with 43% saying that the stress of the Holidays interferes with their ability to enjoy the Holidays.

To help you this year keep the focus of the season on connection and joy, we’ve gathered 3 improv games that can help build good storytelling skills, deepen connections, and help spread some cheer. We hope the spirit of Improv can be a light in the darkness for you this season.

1) Zooming In

Good stories use clear, vivid details. To practice using a lot of clear details, we’ll play “Zoom In” and practice adding layer after layer of complexity.

You can play this game by yourself, or with 2 or more people. To begin, have one person name a general location (a grocery store, New York City, the Beach, a farm).

The next one to go (you, if playing alone, or the next person in the group) will “zoom in” the camera to show more details.

So if we chose a farm:

A: A farm

B: The barn on the farm.

The next person would then zoom in a little more on that object or area:

C: The door of the barn on the farm.

And so until you get all the way to the smallest possible size:

F: The city of quantum people living inside the atom of the paint molecules that are inside the red paint on the barn door on the farm.

When you can’t get any smaller, zoom back out and start over. Don’t worry about being realistic, add what feels fun! By practicing adding lots of details, you’ll be able to tell better stories in general, whether they’re real, or made up, as in our next example.

2) Remember When?

Who doesn’t love a good remembrance of times past? Even if those times happened only in the imagination…

“Remember When?” is a game that can be played with as few as two people, and as many as you can fit in a room. To play, you have one person start to tell a story by saying, “Remember when we…” and they add just one detail such as:

A: Remember when we… traveled to Mars?

A: Remember when we… met that Wizard on the walking path?

A: Remember when we… went to that grand masquerade party in Paris?

The next player will continue the story by saying, “yes, and we….” And will add one more detail:

A: Remember when we traveled to Mars? 

B: Yes, and when we landed, we immediately found that restaurant called “THE BEST PLANTAINS IN THE GALAXY?

A: Remember when we… met that Wizard on the walking path? 

B: Yes, and she gave us a quest to recover a scared baby dragon!

A: Remember when we … went to that grand masquerade party in Paris? 

B: Yes, and you got that invitation to go to meet the Prime Minister on the Eiffel Tower?

Next, the second player, or the next person if you are playing with more than two people, continues the story by saying “And remember when…” and adds more details. See where your imagination can take you! Together you’ll weave fascinating stories of adventures, distant lands, and heartwarming hijinks. For some extra special fun you can act out the stories after you tell them!

3) I Got You….

To show how anything can be a wonderful gift, we’ll modify the game often called “Infomercial Pitch” to be a game about giving wacky gifts.

For this game, you’ll need at least one other person, and to gather several random objects from your home, or from outside. Put them in a bag. Now, take turns pulling out something at random from the bag, and explain why it makes the best gift to give to another person.

This might look like:

A: I got you [pulls out a pencil from the bag] the newest, hottest craze. It’s a pencil that you put in the background of your TikTok videos, so your followers will look for it, and develop crazy fan theories of what it means!

B: This is amazing! Thank you so much. This is going to help me go so viral!

And then the next person will take a turn pulling from the bag and explaining their gift. Remember to Yes, and any ideas that someone says, and support them by cherishing their gift. This way you practice telling good stories, and celebrating each other and your ideas.

We hope these games can be useful to help delight you and your loved ones this Holiday season. From all of us at Unscripted, have a happy and safe Holiday, and we wish you a delightful new year.


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