Dec 20, 2023

Merry Chaosmas

Inspired by Lords of Misrule, Pennebaker transformed 2023's holiday gift into a card game with two objectives: chaos and joy.
By Pennebaker

Let Chaos Reign
For 2023, we decided to take Pennebaker’s tradition of the holiday card to a new form. Rather than adhering to the usual rules of a company holiday card, we made our own rules. In fact, we made our very own game: Chaosmas. It’s a card game that fosters connections among players, injecting a festive atmosphere of merry mayhem into gatherings with friends and family.

More than just a Holiday Card
Chaosmas makes the normal chaos of the holidays seem… well, normal. With Acts of Chaos in hand, players dive into strange Misadventures that bring a fresh perspective to festive celebrations. Friends, family, and even the local Grinch will enjoy this game of holiday havoc.

The Acts of Chaos cards range from “Wear ornaments as earrings” to “Fit as many candy canes in your mouth as possible.” Meanwhile, the Misadventures cards give outrageous scenarios like “A clone of you has shown up and claimed you are the imposter. What do you do better than the clone to prove you’re not an imposter?”

These cards lead to the game’s mayhem seeping into reality. Players will have to perform at least one chaotic action to win, and with the addition of optional rules, chaos can take complete control. But why chaos? What led us to create a game about bringing upheaval to the holidays?

Remembering the Lords of Misrule
The history of Chaosmas begins this year, but the inspiration for the game has a history going back centuries. This inspiration is the tradition of the Lords of Misrule. In England, this widely-forgotten tradition involved appointing a servant or peasant to oversee Christmas revelries for twelve days. Among the odd shenanigans was the Lord of Misrule carrying a gibbet for the mock "execution" of those who offended him by not obeying absurd commands.

Around the same time, other countries were indulging in similar traditions. In Scotland, the role went by the name “Abbot of Unreason.” In France, a Christmas “Bean King” was elected by placing a bean in a cake, and whoever ate the slice with it would gain the title. The custom of the Lord of Misrule eventually became outlawed as it was deemed “disruptive.” This ban came with the rise of the Puritan party in the 17th-century Church of England. Even after the Restoration, the tradition remained banned and soon became forgotten.

The absence of the Lords of Misrule in modern holiday celebrations left a void that Pennebaker seeks to fill. We realized that the over-the-top silliness had evolved into the contemporary holiday chaos we face. Bustling kitchens, choruses of crying newborns, and delicate decorations — each element adds to the season's whirlwind. With Chaosmas, Pennebaker presents the true essence of chaos: smiles, cherished memories, and moments of shared joy. It’s a game to bond with loved ones in the warmth that every hectic holiday moment brings. Choose chaos; it's always worth it.

Santa's elves don't compare to the Pennebaker team
It takes a village to create these holiday cards. So, we thank all those who have been a part of the Pennebaker village and those who have helped us create Chaosmas.

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