Playing Sevens for Cheap Prizes on Christmas is Better Than Watching TV

Playing Sevens for Cheap Prizes on Christmas is Better Than Watching TV

Margie Pignataro © for Gifts for Card Players

Throughout my life, wherever I have spent Christmas the events of the holiday have gone through a fairly traditional arc.  Whether beginning on Christmas Eve or the day of, it has always gone Food, Presents, Food, TV, Food.  This is what I experienced growing up in the US.

Last year, I spent my first Christmas with my British husband’s family, and I discovered that the pattern of events didn’t change too much.  There was much more candied fruit, mince, nutmeg and orange flavoring, though, and Christmas Crackers which I found frightening and silly all at once.

My husband’s family had postponed the TV portion of the holiday and, while waiting for time pass so we may eat again, we played Sevens.  I’d never heard of this card game before.  My family was all about gin, rummy, blackjack and poker.  I felt daunted being told I would have to learn how to play a new card game on the spot and compete.

I’d forgotten that most card games are relatively easy, but what made me learn the game faster and with enthusiasm was the presence of prizes.

First of all, an explanation of the game, this one taken from Wikipedia:

“All cards are dealt to the players, even if as a result some players have one card more than others. The owner of the seven of hearts begins by playing it. Similarly, the other three sevens may later be played as the first cards of their respective suits. After that, cards may be added in sequence down to the ace and up to the king. A player who cannot place a card passes.”

The person who manages to discard all of their cards wins.  And winning means you get to pick a prize, either from the heaping pile, or you may take a prize someone has already picked.  Play should last long enough for the original pile to vanish.  Of course, you can continue for as long as you wish, as people may take prizes from one another indefinitely.  We played with a loose time limit.

The pile of prizes we had were bought from a pound store and were things like lip balm and ballpoint pens.  They were wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper.  This created an extraordinary effect.  I imagined that they were much more than they were, despite being told that nothing cost more than a pound.  We would shake them and weigh them, then favor odd shaped ones over boxes because, for some illogical reason, a bizarre shape equated with an exotic prize.

It didn’t get ugly (though I imagine that if I was trying to do this with my family while I was in high school, it would’ve become exceptionally ugly.  I was a very competitive teenager, as was my older brother).  My husband would probably say the game play was civil because his family is British, and appearances are everything.  I like to think that because there were enough prizes that everyone eventually got something (I got three), and the prizes were hilariously cheap, it ultimately wasn’t worth going mental over.

And most miraculously, we never did watch TV.  We ate again, of course.  Food is always absolutely required.

Shopping note: A game like this would be fun at any card party. And you can find some lots of small prize ideas on our novelty pages. Golf tees with suit pips, miniature card key chains, suit symbol candies and chocolate cards, beautiful things to write with and to write on, and wrap them all up in card motif wrapping paper!


Margie Pignataro is a Fiction/Playwright/Academic Writer from the United Kingdom. She is the daughter of a blackjack player and the wife of a professional poker player and we look forward to many excellent articles giving us an inside view of the world of cards, casinos and gambling. See more of Margie’s articles on Great Bridge Links.

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