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Need some Christmas ideas please to cross a language barrier - MIL and DParents can't communicate!

(13 Posts)
Inselaffe Mon 17-Nov-14 19:32:06

I have never spent a Christmas with MIL. According to DP they are usually miserable (she is not a very happy person) and so he has spent the last three Christmases with me - we tried to invite her last year but she booked herself on a cruise in February before we asked. This year we asked in January and got in first! grin

She loves playing board games (and winning, who doesn't! Although she sulks a bit if she loses) and we have her favourite, which fortunately my parents can play, at home.

We have the 23rd to 26th to fill... On the 23rd my parents and DSis are arriving so I think it will be filled with introductions (they have never met). MIL speaks limited English, not enough for a conversation, and DParents and DSis don't speak any of her language.

We can go for walks etc. but normally Christmas in my family is games, puzzles, food drinking etc. in front of the TV but MIL won't be able to understand the TV and I am worried she will feel left out.

I really want her to have a good Christmas and feel included. Does anyone have ideas for games that don't require a lot of English/linguistic communication? I have UNO, Rummikub, dominos, pick up sticks and a few packs of cards. Normally we play Monopoly, Scrabble and Cluedo. I was thinking about buying a huge puzzle but that feels a bit enforced.

madsadbad Mon 17-Nov-14 19:43:33

I don't have any ideas re games, but it really is surprising how people are able to communicate even with a language barrier, and some translation with the person who can speak both languages.
Have a great time.

Whereisegg Mon 17-Nov-14 19:47:03

Erm, card games?
Dp could translate for pictionary?

Could you do a crash course in their language online?

Ask dp about any traditional foods you and he could buy in or make.

Any films with English subtitles you could buy?

Leeds2 Mon 17-Nov-14 19:52:55

Backgammon. Or chess or draughts, only two players but might work.

Are you happy to say where MIL is from? In the sense that someone might then be able to suggest something she would be familiar with.

I think she is really brave to step out of her comfort zone like this. I bet she is more nervous than you!

Leeds2 Mon 17-Nov-14 19:54:29

If you ask her, she might be happy to make/bake some of her country's Christmas traditions on Christmas Eve, to share on Boxing Day. Just make sure you show enough appreciation!!

Inselaffe Mon 17-Nov-14 19:55:14

Sorry, I should have been clearer - I definitely can speak her language. I'd be heartily ashamed of myself if I couldn't!

Pictionary is a great idea, thank you. Parents definitely won't learn (too old) and sister would refuse as well (too English). I can put a phrase book out though.

We will be doing the full German experience on Christmas Eve. Best bit about the German-English hybrid is that we essentially get two Christmases grin

mad I am hoping that is the case. DP and I just had a bit of a panic moment.

traviata Mon 17-Nov-14 20:39:20

Actually I think a huge puzzle is a great idea, if you have somewhere you can just leave it out. People can wander over to it, and do a bit at a time, and all kinds of rapport can develop.

I assume there is some equivalent to i-Player in Germany - can you download a couple of favourites for her? Does DP know what her fave programmes are at home? then she could sit with an i-pad whilst the TV is on.

Whereisegg Mon 17-Nov-14 20:43:11

What about enough gingerbread house kits to do one between 2/3 people?
Could be a laugh combined with Christmas music and alcohol?

BertieBotts Mon 17-Nov-14 20:55:51

Charades with movie titles, especially if there are at least 2 people who are bilingual enough to translate the snippets/guesses (or just use movie titles which weren't changed?)

Yes to a few two player games. Othello is non language dependent too.

I agree with the puzzle as people can do bits at a time.

Go out for a walk? People can talk in their own language but you're all together.

You could find some DVDs or online versions of programmes in German with English subtitles or vice versa for everyone to watch together? Subtitles for whoever has the better eyesight. One of the weirdest things for me about living in Germany (though it's true of any country) is that walking into Media Markt, the Disney films playing on the display laptops have all the songs as well as the dialogue translated into German! That's obvious when you think about it, but I hadn't realised.

I teach English and play a lot of games - you can play a lot of games with snippets of language although she might find it tiring. Monopoly for example could work, but she'd miss a lot of the banter happening between others and it's probably quite dull without that. Cluedo could work if she's happy enough to learn the words or you just make a translation crib sheet for the rooms and murder weapons.

If she and DParents are active you can always go for outdoor games - cricket or rounders or swingball or something. Physical means that the fun comes without having to speak much and you can use gestures to explain what you mean too. Or silly games like passing a keyring from one person to another using only a straw you are holding in your mouth, as a race between two teams.

The game where you draw a head, fold it over, pass it on, draw shoulders, legs, feet, unfold to see the funny person (though more of a kids' game, I suppose, but perhaps you could give out names of which famous person each person has to draw.)

Jenga? Or buckaroo or something similar. You can make "oooooh" noises in any language and it's funny/enraging when it pops/falls down and that translates. You can add dares to Jenga or drinking forfeits - write numbers on the long flat sides or a coloured circle/sticker, which correlates to a number of "fingers" of your drink you have to take or a dare you have to do. You can't see until you've removed a block whether it has a sticker on it.

Fireworks. Germans are obsessed with fireworks.

BertieBotts Mon 17-Nov-14 21:01:55

If there is low level language stuff going on I think you have to ensure she has the option to retreat to something where she doesn't have to speak at all in English - either something where she can just talk to you/DP in German or doesn't have to speak at all. From experience trying to speak a language you know very little of to people that you haven't met before is extremely tiring - I can't manage more than an hour of it until I get a headache and feel totally overwhelmed and just need to make excuses and go, I'm probably a similar level of German to how she sounds in English. Alcohol will help - you tend to lose the inhibition about worrying that you sound silly and just go with it and it doesn't seem to matter as much. And the phrase book combined with alcohol sounds like it could be quite fun if everyone's a bit tipsy and they are inclined to laugh at themselves a bit.

BertieBotts Mon 17-Nov-14 21:03:02

If you have a German Christmas market at any city near you, that might be worth a visit. She can laugh/scoff at how inauthentic it is and your DParents might find it novel.

IssyStark Tue 18-Nov-14 00:03:22

What about trying to get hold of that British comedy sketch that the Germans watch every Christmas and get both sides of the family watching it?

BertieBotts Tue 18-Nov-14 08:42:10

Mr. Bean, too?

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