It's the time of year for decorating with your Christmas lights; however, some strings are broken and missing bulbs. Can you be the first one to "untangle" your lights and replace the broken bulbs to win the game?

 Christmas Lights Cover

Christmas Lights A Card Game (2020)
Designer(s) Adam Collins & Chad Head Artist(s) Dave Perillo Publisher

25th Century Games

2-6 6+ 10-30m

In Christmas Lights: A Card Game, you trying to complete two strands of lights, that are personal hidden objectives, by playing bulbs in the correct order before your opponents. The twist: you can't see your hand of cards.  Yes, that's right you can't see the bulbs in your hand, but your opponents can.  Your opponents can steal from your hand and cause mischief with the bubble bulbs.  Don't worry, you can return the favor on your turn.  Can you be the fastest to complete your cards without seeing your bulbs?  Lets find out.

Christmas Lights 2Box and Components

The box is super cute and sort of reminds me of my childhood with the "retro" feel.  It has a picture of Santa on the top and then pictures of some of the bulbs.  Along the sides it also shows off two more characters you can play in the game such as Rudolph and Snowman. The box is made of sturdy cardboard and is just the right size for the game with not much wiggle room for cards to shuffle around during transportation to and from game day events.  The box also comes with a little divider that is made with a lighter cardboard material.  This does have some give to it, but it does its purpose of separating cards and keeping things organized.  The cards have a nice feel to them with the glossy finish.  The cards do not have much weight to them so they do bend with a little pressure.  


  • 2 rule books- 1 for general game and 1 that contains a number variant rules
  • 18 pattern cards
  • 6 event cards
  • 6 character cards
  • 6 player aid cards
  • 3 present cards (these are used in bonus games)
  • 61 bulb cards-
    • 7 of each of the following colors: red, pink, yellow, green, blue and purple. 
    • 6 bubble bulbs
    • 5 broken bulbs
    • 8 plugs

 Christmas Lights 4  Christmas Lights 7  


I will be discussing the base rules of the game in this section.  If you would like to check out the bonus games, please check out Variant Bonus Games section.  In the base rules, you are trying to complete your two pattern cards before anyone else to win the game.  

Christmas Lights 5Set Up

  1. Shuffle the event cards and place them face down on the table within reach of all players.
  2. Shuffle the pattern cards and deal two cards to each player.  They are secret from all other players, but players that they were dealt the cards may look at them.  However, an event card may make them visible to all other players when that time comes.
  3. Shuffle the bulb cards and deal 5 bulb cards to each player. Place the remaining bulb cards in a draw pile face down on the table within reach of all players.  You can not look at your own bulb cards!  Each player will be looking at the backs of their bulb cards while all other players get to see everyone else's bulb cards.  However, if at any point you do look at your cards, you must discard bulb cards in your hand and redraw five bulb cards.
  4. Select a number of character cards equal to the number of players and be sure to include the Santa card. Shuffle the character cards and deal them out to each player.  Reveal your character. 

Play begins with the player that has the Santa character card. 

Player Turn

On their turn, players may perform each of the following actions once in this particular order (all actions are optional):

  1. Play: You may play one or two bulb cards from your hand and play them into your string; you will decide which pattern card you want to complete first and which direction.  Each card you play must match the pattern card you are trying to complete.  However, if the card you play doesn't match, place it in the discard pile.  If you play a bubble bulb or a broken bulb you can still play those in your pattern.
    • Bubble bulbs are wild representing any color needed, but they come with a bit of risk as well. When a bubble bulb is played, you will have to draw an event card and perform the action described on it. 
    • Broken bulbs provide a blank space in your string allowing you to continue your pattern, but the broken bulb must be replaced with the correct bulb before the string can be completed. When you do replace the broken bulb, you will simply place the replacement on top of the broken bulb as the broken bulb in needed for final scoring. 
  2. Swap: You may pick a card from your hand and swap it for a card in one of your opponents hands.  Both players are allowed to see the swapped cards before placing them into their hands.  You can even mark the card by placing it sideways or some other means to remind yourself of what card you just took into your hand.
  3. Sell: You may sell one or two of your cards from your hand to ask information from your opponents.  You will place one of the cards in the discard pile and ask a yes or not question.  Your opponents can decide if they want to answer the question or not.  If one of them do, they take the bulb card you just discarded and places it in their hand of cards.  However, if they decide not to answer the question, they do not claim the card, and it remains in the discard pile. 
  4. Refill: Draw your hand back up to five cards.  If the bulb deck runs out, shuffle the discard pile and make a new deck.  Remember, don't look at the new cards you drew.

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Once you complete one pattern card, you will show your completed card and then discard all bulb cards used except broken bulbs and bubble bulbs into the discard pile.  The broken bulbs and bubble bulbs will be placed off to the side of the player along with their completed pattern card.  If you completed your string with your first card play, you may still play a second card this turn.  However, to begin your second pattern card/string of lights, you must play a plug card from your hand. 

Christmas Lights 8

Play continues in this fashion until one player completes both of their pattern cards and all players have had equal number of turns.  If more than one player completes both pattern cards in this fashion, the player who used the least broken bulbs is the winner.  If there is still a tie, the player who used the least number of bubble bulbs wins.  If there is still a tie, winners shares victory,  but the game is super quick so just play again.  

Variant Bonus Games

The bonus games manual is thicker than the regular manual. In this manual, you will find 12 additional games you can play with this box of Christmas lights; think of it as the 12 Days of Christmas but with Christmas light bulbs.  For each variant of the game, it will give you a list of which card you will need from the box to play, provides the set up of each, how to play, and game end/winning conditions.  I love how thought out this is so it's not a one and done game; instead, you have 13 games you can play in this box depending on your player count. 

1. Untangled for 2 to 6 players

  • Objective: Compete to untangle strings of lights from the shared knot by searching for the sequence shown on your pattern card.  Complete all three of your patterns to win.

2. Festival of Lights for 3 to 4 players

  • Objective: Every year, the elves in Santa's workshop put on a lights display for Mrs. Claus to kick off the holiday season.  The elf who collects the most sets of colored bulbs is the winner and receives a special mug of hot cocoa from Mrs. Claus!

3. Jingle Bell Run for 2 to 6 players

  • Objective: Collect bulbs to find a way across strings of lights as you compete in the annual North Pole tree decorating race!

4. Lights On for 2 teams of 2 players

  • Objective: Collect more plugs to turn on your lights than the other team!  Your team wins if you have three plugs.  Your team loses if you ever have three broken bulbs.

5. Mrs. Claus for 3 to 6 players

  • Objective: Match cards from your hand by discarding them down until one player is left holding the Mrs. Claus card.  That player is the winner and gets to enjoy her freshly baked gingerbread cookies!

6. Looney Lights for 2 to 6 players

  • Objective: This version is very similar to Uno, where you are trying to discard cards that match the top of the discard deck.  If you are the first person to discard all of your cards, you are the winner.

7. Reindeer's Nose for 4 to 6 players

  • Objective: Your goal is be the first player to collect four matching bulbs in your hand.

8. Where's That Bulb? for 2 to 6 players

  • Objective: This is a memory game, once all cards have been matched, leaving only the four Broken bulbs face-down, count the number of pairs in front of you.  Whoever has the highest number of pairs is the winner!  

9. Check The Box for 2 to 4 players

  • Objective: Create the most sets of three identical cards by collecting cards from other players.

10. Solo Nights for, you guessed it, solo player

  • Objective: Santa is coming, and he's expecting a huge light display!  But there's a problem: some of the bulbs in the box are broken.  You need to fix all the strings of lights before Santa arrives.

11. Deck The Yard for solo player

  • Objective: While everyone is out doing their last-minute shopping, you're left to decorate the yard with lights and inflatable characters by yourself!  Can you get it done in time?

12. Blink for 2 to 5 players

  • Objective: Your family has strings of Christmas lights that blink in sequence to make the lights appear to run from one end of the tree to the other.  The card you play represent the bulb that is currently blinking.  The goals is to be the first to empty your hand of cards.

Final Thoughts

When we played our initial game, I was confused about how to play the cards cause I was afraid of being wrong in what cards I played in my pattern.  After playing it a few more times and having a full grasp of the rules, I really enjoyed it.  The hardest part for me was remembering not to look at the cards as I drew them.  Brian and I used card holders to hold our cards sort of a reminder of "Hey, don't look at these."  

I love that there are twelve additional games that you can play with the decks of cards in the box.  Each one has their own rules, objectives, and range for different player counts.  It is nice that you can play quick games of each of these variants if you have time or just open the manual up and blindly pick one to play as long as you have the correct number of players.

I love the vintage style of artwork used on the box art and on the cards.  It reminds me of the giant bulbs we used on the outside of my house growing up.  Even the character card artwork reminds me of the old-timey Christmas cartoon characters. 

The rules are straight forward in the base game, and I love that they included another rule book for additional variant games that you can play.  I love how quick the game is to pick up and play.

If you enjoy a good card game and love reminiscing about your childhood, be sure to check out Christmas Lights: A Card Game.
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Christmas Lights: A Card Game Board Game Geek Page

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Christmas Lights: A Card Game Amazon Product Page


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