Last week we celebrated the kickoff to the Countdown to Christmas with a Hallmark-inspired Christmas drinking game (see post here). This week you will learn about another game that speaks to fans’ love of Hallmark—one that popped on my radar immediately after I launched this blog.
The Hallmark In Real Life blog launched on July 8, 2019 with the post “Why Can’t Life be like a Hallmark Movie?” (see first post here), and by the following week, I began to notice online ads spotlighting a board game called the Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Bundle Game. In this blog I’ve challenged myself to take elements of Hallmark movies and live them out In Real life, so a board game custom-designed around Hallmark fans’ love of Christmas movies? Count me in! By the end of July, I had submitted my pre-order.
Not even a week after I’d ordered the game, I received an email from Cassie and Jacklyn Collier, sisters and co-founders of Bundle, thanking me for being one of their first pre-orders and inviting me to be featured on their website. Originally from Central, Pennsylvania, these ladies are now my neighbors in New York City. Jacklyn, also known as Jacks and who co-hosts Hallmark’s Bubbly Sesh podcast, lives about 10 blocks away from me on the Upper West Side of Manhattan; Cassie, meanwhile, is just across Central Park from us on the East Side. In a city with 8.5 million people, this is the New York City equivalent of small-town Hallmark moment where you know your neighbors. And I’m a big believer in helping my neighbors!
I was tremendously impressed by Cassie and Jacklyn’s level of personal engagement with customers (a.k.a. me). The protagonist of Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses, Abbey (played by Jill Wagner), uses the phrase “scrappy entrepreneur”, and I think that term perfectly applies to this dynamic duo. Our warm email exchanges continued through the summer as we bonded over a love of Hallmark movies and the fact that The Nine Lives of Christmas is a clear fan favorite. (You can read my three-blog-post homage to this film here, here, and here.) It turns out that the game began as a unique gift for their parents—they bundled family memories into a highly personalized board game. Today, that original concept has birthed a company that creates personalized board games for customers, including the Countdown to Christmas Bundle.
Fast-forward to October, and my 10th Anniversary Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Bundle Game finally arrived in a red drawstring pouch that looked like a mini Santa sack. It contained a cloth board with red, green, and white squares, one die, six game pieces, and 83 playing cards broken out into four main categories: Name 4, Pick Your Destiny, Challenge, and Act it Out.
Although I’d been dying to play the game, I waited until the official start of the Countdown to Christmas, following the premier of Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses, to challenge my two friends Kate and Nicole to a game. I wanted to play with friends who are true fans, to compete head-to-head against others who know this special language we speak. With a Hallmark Christmas movie playing in the background, we laid down our board and set out the cards on the coffee table. (By this point in the evening we had worn out Kate’s new puppy, Jack, and he chilled next to me on the couch instead of try to eat the cards while we played.)
While playing the game, I learned I am a terrible actor. The Act it Out cards are meant to be (surprise surprise) acted out, but without words. Sounds are allowed, but I continually tripped up and used some version of a word before catching myself. Needless to say, there was lots of joyful laugher at my expense. The Challenge cards offer a chance for super fans to dazzle their opponents by being able to name exact movie titles after hearing a snippet of the plot. To be honest none of us were very good at these cards. We all knew the exact plot, could tell each other specific details of the film, and I always knew the exact actors in the movie, but we all got a little tripped up on the titles, especially the princess ones. Midway through the game, we all started helping each other with hints, which led to more fun and playful laughter. I am looking forward to playing again so that next time I’ll get more diversity in The Challenge Cards. Glancing through them later, I want a chance to describe my dream cast for a Countdown to Christmas movie, or which Hallmark character is my fashion inspiration!
The Name 4 cards are both filled with holiday spirit and the fun of Hallmark. Nicole answered thoughtfully about the four favorite gifts she’s given or received during the holiday season, while I tended to quickly rattle off my answers for my four favorite Hallmark Channel leading men and women. The Pick Your Destiny Cards didn’t get pulled much in our game, but I landed on the square once, and my card sent me backwards, so my sense is that this pile offers traditional board game whammies to keep players from racing around the board twice too quickly. By the end of the game we were less focused on moving our pieces around the board, and instead just continued to read the Challenge and Name 4 cards to each other.
If there is someone in your life who loves The Countdown to Christmas and also enjoys board games, this is the Christmas gift for them. I also think this would be fun to bring to a secret Santa swap at the office. I bet there are a lot of Hallmark movie fans among your office mates, and this might just help break the ice to get everyone talking about their shared love of The Countdown to Christmas!