HORSE with housework. Poker-style bidding.
How to Play:
1. Issue a housework challenge to one or more members of the household. Announce what task you plan to tackle, and how long (or how many, depending on the task) you plan to spend doing it. For example, "I'm going to spend two minutes unloading the dishwasher," or, "I'm going to pick up four toys from the living room floor, and put them away."
2. From the time you complete your task, the challenged party (or parties) has one hour to respond. They may choose one of three responses:
a) Call. They agree to do the same (or equivalent, by agreement) task that you did. If they are successful in competing the task, play passes to the next player, until everyone has met the challenge. Then the round is over, and no one gets a letter.
b) Raise. They agree to do the same (or equivalent, by agreement) task that you did, and also add an additional task of their own choosing. If they are successful in completing both tasks, play passes to the next player, until everyone has met all of the challenges.
c) Fold. If the challenged player does not wish to complete any of the tasks, they may fold, and take a letter in the word "HORSE" (or some clever alternative that has to do with housework). Failure to respond or complete your task within an hour is treated as a de facto fold.
3. Keep a tally of everyone's letters in a prominent location. If someone spells the word HORSE, they lose, and something terrible will happen to them. You can decide what the punishment is for losing, but I'm leaning towards the dirtiest, most hated household chores.
Some Ground Rules:
1. All challenged parties need to be at home when challenged (and not about to leave for a scheduled activity).
2. You must state the parameters of your task BEFORE embarking on it. You can't raise the stakes just because something took you longer than you thought it would, or because you got some cleaning momentum and kept going past the end of your declared time limit. (Aside: You are allowed, even encouraged, to do more than the challenged task; it just doesn't count for the game.) You also can't retroactively issue challenges. I can't spend an hour doing dishes, then sit down and say, "Okay, now you spend an hour doing dishes or you'll get a letter."
3. If you choose a task that only you are capable of doing, or that can only be done once, you must be reasonable in your consideration of equivalent alternatives.
4. Game may be paused by mutual consensus (or parental fiat) for meals or other family activities.
Tips and Tricks:
1. Bid small at first. It's easier to get up off your butt to do a small task than a big one. Once you're both up cleaning and have a bit of momentum, you can raise the stakes.
2. If everyone calls, no one gets a letter. This can be a good thing, and it works especially well when playing with small children, because they like it when everyone wins.
Special Rule: The Shootout
Choose a simple, easily repeatable challenge, like picking up one toy, or washing one dish. Cycle through the players, repeating the task in quick succession until one player opts to not complete the task. That player gets a letter, and the shootout round is over. (Although remaining players may choose to continue playing, elimination-style, if desired.)