resurgence of board games, 7 suggestions

Family time during the holiday is great….and complicated. So many unspoken needs and hopes, so many conflicting communication styles. It is easy to quickly retreat into our personal devices to soothe our tense feelings. My advice to myself, and to all of us, is to reach for a board game whenever possible. For my family, it’s Boggle. I’m also hoping to try to play Bananagrams more.

I filmed a family last week playing a Dr. Seuss board game, and it seriously warmed my heart. They all had each other's attention and playfulness—true connection in action.

It is a lot of fun to play video games as a family but we have to keep in mind it can also be very activating, eliciting adrenaline and cortisol. Bringing down the intensity level a bit with a slower paced silly board game can be awesome.

I keep thinking about the unconscious barriers that prevent us parents from not pulling out board games or cards more often. For me, I was scared of games that could take so much time. I have a hard time sitting still for long, and Monopoly can be torture for me. But, for the shorter games I am all in because I know that when we start to play the game, I feel such a strong sense of connection.

The key is of course not just gifting the game, but gifting your time in playing the game, more than once. Consider setting a goal for yourself of the number of times you will play a game with your family over the next eight weeks. Two times? Four times?

Here is my list of old favorites and some others I want to try this week.

  1. Wits and Wagers is my all time favorite game to play as a family–particularly when my kids were between 10 to 16 years old. Well actually, we still play. We made our cards related to cities we know, and now we pull out the game to see the funny questions we made up.
  2. Second up would be Apples to Apples. This Thanksgiving I was so jazzed to walk downstairs and see my daughter playing the game with her 23 and 18-year-old cousins, Brendan and Matt.
  3. One of our family favorites is Boggle. Boggle is letter cubes shaken up on a grid. Players have to find as many words as they can before time runs out.
  4. Bananagrams is another great word game. You race each other to create words in a crossword style grids.
  5. This whimsically clever Dr. Seuss Oh, the Places You'll Go Game is full of adventures. Winner of several awards, the game will have you and your family globetrotting all over the world. Based on the best selling book of the same name, this game is perfect for a non-tech family connection.
  6. Who's the Dude looks cute. I want to get it. The Dude doll will join the family fun for this game. Interact with the inflatable doll to act out movies, songs, and other fun activities while the rest of your family guesses. Lisa, my co-producer, brought this to Thanksgiving and even the one family member who refused to play was lured in. The college-aged cousin enjoyed it so much that he brought it back to college with him.
  7. With Speak Out everyone will be in hysterics while playing this game. You attempt to say different phrases and everyone has to guess what you are saying. What makes it so funny is that you have to do so while wearing a mouthpiece that will not allow you to shut your mouth. Laughter is a fantastic way to create fun, family connections.

Here are a few conversation starters for this week’s Tech Talk Tuesday:

  • What is your all-time favorite board game?
  • Is there a game you’d like to play as a family?
  • Would you ever consider playing a board game or card game with friends?