5 life lessons learned from playing Apples to Apples

5 life lessons learned from playing Apples to Apples

I love the game Apples to Apples. It’s a staple activity when we are together with my parents, one that all three generations enjoy with lots of laughs. After a visit with them this past week, I got to thinking about the life lessons learned from playing Apples to Apples.

First, though, an overview of the game Apples to Apples: Players are dealt seven red cards that are nouns, proper and improper and ranging from New York City to picket lines to Julius Caesar. Players take turns being the judge. The judge lays green adjective card, and player play which of their cards they think best matches that descriptor. The judge picks his/her favorite card. The player with the most cards picked wins.

For example, my dad was the judge and the adjective card he turned over was “sparkly.” My mom, daughter and I laid down cards that said Halley’s Comet, engagement rings, Times Square. My dad picked Haley’s Comet. (But we all know engagement rings was the best answer, right? Right.)

Now back to the life lessons learned from the game.

1. Know your judge.

Did I think that Isaac Newton was the best fit for “macho”? No, I did not.

Was it down to either the physicist or Kurt Russell and I knew that my kid had at least heard of Isaac Newton in school? Yes, I did.

Did she pick Isaac Newton? She did!

Granted, she did in part because he has a unit of measurement named after him and she thought he had named it and that seemed cocky to her. “Cocky” was listed on the card as a synonym of “macho.” We did discuss that the unit was named for Newton, not by him.

We say that we like this game because there isn’t any specific skill involved, and that’s true, but sometimes knowing the people with whom you are playing can be a big help. Just like it’s a big help to understand what your middle school language arts teacher is looking for in a paper. Or knowing what your boss values most. Or thinking about what would make your spouse the most pleased.

“Know your judge” applies pretty much across the board.

2. Not everyone shares you perspective.

Sometimes you play a card that you are certain is a winner. It’s so clear cut in your mind that you start doing a little victory dance in your chair.

And then the judge picks something else.


Playing Apples to Apples always provides a reminder that everyone has a different perspective. That’s not a bad thing, unless you get called out for your early celebration, of course.

3. You have to play the cards you’re dealt. 

This is true of all games involving cards, of course, but this reminded me that there are times when you just don’t have a lot to work with. All you can do is make the best of what you’ve got.

The added bonus is that sometimes the game gets even funnier when you play something ridiculous because it is all you have. Sense of humor is key when your hand isn’t what you had hoped for, be it in a game or in life.

4. Read the fine print.

At the bottom of each card is a short descriptor. It looks like fine print and it’s easy to gloss over or forget completely. In actuality, though, they are very funny. Reading the fine print can be good, and even helpful.

5. Laughing as a family is awesome.

My family finds Apples to Apples to be a great game that works for several generations. It doesn’t take any time to set up, it plays quickly, and most importantly, we always laugh. That last one is the very best part.

Does your family enjoy games? What are the popular ones in your house at the moment?

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Filed under: Parenting

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