One of my hobbies is improv comedy. And my favorite part of improv comedy is what we call "Justification". As an actor, you're given some absurd things to work with, and you have to justify them, and make the scene make sense. Why are you snowshoeing through the desert with a tuba? Well, you'd better come up with an explanation, or the scene is going to suck.
I think Apples to Apples, for the most part, is a bad game. I don't enjoy it much. But there is one part that is fun- justification! I love trying to justify why my card fits the adjective best, especially when it's a stretch. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't seem to like this style of play. Some will hold it against you if you even try to defend your card!
So I've tried to think of a variant that would bring the focus of the game squarely on what is actually the most fun- the justification, while reducing the part that sucks the most- people having completely different standards for judging. Here's what I came up with:
Each round, instead of picking a single green card, the referee picks five green cards, and lays them all out. Other players then pick one card for each of the green cards, using almost their entire hands. This way, they are forced to make some serious stretches in terms of justification as to why their card fits.
Then the referee judges all 5 cards. The standard for judging is not to simply look at the card, but hear out each player's best argument in defense of their cards.
The winner of each round is the player who wins the most cards in that round- so if Player 1 wins 2 out of 5, and other players each only win 1 out of 5, Player 1 scores a point. In the case of a tie, all tied players score a point. Thus you are rewarded for matching multiple cards rather than focusing on one good match.
I haven't tried this variant yet, but would welcome any input.