It’s chore games for the win! Let me walk you through this really fun, White Elephant Chore Game that will instantly become a fun family tradition in your home.
Do your kids scrub off their bathroom countertops with joy, and secretly sing your praises while cleaning their rooms?
Or…do kids chores look more like rolling eyes, sarcastic remarks, and the word “survive” gets thrown around a lot?
Some parents use chore charts with reward systems attached to them – with money, stars, stickers, extra time with video games, etc. – to motivate their kids to clean up, while others expect their child to do chores without a reward because they don’t get paid to put their dishes in the dishwasher, either.
Either way, getting your child to actually DO the chores – without the amount of nagging completely overriding any benefit the household gets from the work – is difficult to do.
If you have these struggles, or if you’re just looking for a really fun new family tradition to add to your home that will also dub as a way to keep the chore gremlins at bay – you’re in the right place.
How to Make Cleaning into a Game
Before we dive into one of my fave family chore games, I want to talk a little about how to make cleaning into a game.
If you’re like me, you don’t see cleaning as a game. You don’t even see it as fun.
But, if you think this way, then how are you supposed to make it fun for your kids? They’re probably picking up on some of your mental cues about the cleaning process in general.
Don’t worry – that can be changed over time.
Aside from changing your mental outlook on chores and cleaning, you can also “gamify” the activity. Here’s a few general examples of things you can do that will also make cleaning fun for adults:
- Escape Room Cleaning: Give each family member a specific room to clean. Add a timer – you can adjust the times based on room difficulty levels. Have your family race against the clock – sort of like when you go to an escape room and you only have 60 minutes to solve the puzzles and get the heck ‘outta dodge. If they don’t meet the buzzer? Come up with a “fun” negative consequence, like dunking a bucket of water on them (remember that Ice Bucket Challenge a few years ago? Yep. I got dunked.).
- Musical Chairs Cleaning: Set a timer, and each time it goes off, everyone swaps tasks with the person to their right and picks up where they left off.
- Winner Chooses the Movie: You can pair family cleaning day with pizza + a movie afterwards. The first person who gets their tasks completed – and okay’d by everyone that it’s been completed – gets to pick the movie!
And now…I’m going to walk you through something I created that has become one of my favorite chore games out there!
What is the White Elephant Family Chore Game?
I’ve come up with a pretty fun idea you’ll want to introduce into your home: The White Elephant Chore Games.
You know the regular White Elephant Gift exchange? The one where a group of people each brings a silly, unwanted, gag gift to a get together and then swapping/exchanges/stealing happen with people trying to leave with the best option?
Well, I’ve applied the same principle to chores.
Your family is going to take one of the chores they’ve been given for the week, and they’ll bring it to a fun round of White Elephant Chore Game. During this game, everyone will swap the chore they don’t want for one that they do want, with a little fun competition as everyone tries to walk away with the “best” chore.
Prep Work for the Chore Game
Before you can play this game with your family, you’ll need to do a little prep work.
For starters, do you have a chore system of some sort? Meaning, a way that chores get divvied up among your household members?
Things to Think about for Your Chore System:
- Chore Organization System: It can be hard to keep straight who is doing what, when (or at least what each person is responsible for). Some sort of chore chart is a great way to organize which child/family member does what task, on what day, to keep everyone accountable and to keep things rolling.
- Age Appropriate Chores for Kids: You’ll need to fill your chore chart in with chores that are appropriate for your kid’s capability level. I want to take this a step further and add that you’ll want to choose chores that will help your child learn and grow in 5 different ways – a novel chore idea!
- Oversight System: So, how do you know when your child’s work is finished (or any family member, for that matter)? You can model the chore with your kids, then quickly look things over when they’re finished. You could create checklists for each room/chore that your child can work through. You could even have chore buddies where they check on each other’s jobs and provide some feedback before giving the “okay” that it is, in fact, completed.
- Rewards System: This topic is highly debated, but something you’ll need to search your gut about and figure out how you want to handle. Are chores expected of your child because they are part of the household? Should kids get paid to do chores? Should you do a hybrid of rewarded and non-rewarded chores?
Whatever you choose to do, be clear about your expectations and systems with your child.
Alright, now let’s get to the really fun part!
Rules of Play for the White Elephant Chore Game
You’re about to turn family chores on its head in your household, plus create a really fun family tradition all at the same time.
You can incorporate this into your normal chore routine. Just choose one week, and play a round at the beginning of the week (or at least after chores are given but before they’re due).
Or, you can give out a new set of chores (chore card printables are included in the free kit) and use this as a way to start the chores process in your household.
In order to play this game, you’ll want to establish the following rules:
- Your child gets to choose one chore from their weekly/bi-weekly/daily chore list to swap.
- Your child will need to keep the chore a secret by writing it down on a piece of paper and sealing it in an envelope.
- Everyone will come together, and place their envelopes on the coffee/kitchen table.
- Everyone draws a number from a basket, which shows their turn.
- As each player’s turn comes up, they get to either choose an unopened chore envelope from the table, or steal someone else’s opened chore envelope.
- Whenever someone takes a newly, unopened chore from the table, they must open it and read it aloud.
- Once the game ends, everyone has to complete the chore they got by the deadline (you get to decide!).
I’ve got a free printable for you that will lay out all the rules, setup, plus really cute chore cards (both blank + pre-filled) to use when handing out those chores.
I can’t wait for you to try this out! Let me know how it goes.