Stuck with family this weekend? Just clear off the table when you’re done eating and play a game and all will be good.
Tis the season
Ah, Christmas. Wait, what’s that? It’s only Thanksgiving? Well would someone please tell the stores so that they can stop playing that stupid Paul McCartney song?
Okay, so Thanksgiving. It might as well be Christmas because if your family was like mine growing up then you usually combined both holidays into one. My family was somewhat spread out so traveling two months in a row wasn’t the easiest thing to do, so every year we swapped between making Thanksgiving and Christmas the actual holiday. We’d all gather at the grandma and grandpa’s house and spend a day playing with toys, watching football, eating a lot of food and then playing games…and this was way before video games.
Actually, that’s a lie. I had my Nintendo and I usually took it with me to my grandparents because they lived out in the country and there wasn’t much else to do. But during the holidays the video games took a back seat because playing table top games with my cousins and family was far more enjoyable. It didn’t happen but once a year so you had to take advantage of having people around. Plus, with parents and even grandparents on hand it was the one time when we could all do something fun together. I’ll attribute these times as to why I love games so much…they really are the one thing everyone could enjoy, regardless what generation they were from.
But the real challenge every Thanksgiving evening was the debate over which game to play. Everybody had their favorite, I’m sure, and I did too but it really didn’t matter as long as we were all playing. Of course, then we had to all refresh ourselves on the rules, set up cards and boards, and just spend way too much time getting started. Some of the games were simple, others required a pencil a paper just to figure stuff out, but they were all fun and able to keep my family interested…which was somewhat of a chore in the first place.
So this holiday season, whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the popular Thankschristmas, don’t forget to turn off the television and put away the Wiimotes for some good old fashioned table top fun. Here are some games that are guaranteed to get your family laughing together.
The ultimate family game if for no other reason that up to eight people can play at the same time. We all know that Monopoly can last a long time, but when you’re playing with more than even four people the game speeds up quite a bit. Money is flying all over the place…houses are being placed and railroads are being bought up left and right. And if you played like my cousin, you bought everything you landed on and conned the rest of the family out of their money with fast-talking trades. One year we had to go dig through my LEGO bricks so he could build enough hotels and houses.
Nothing beats a good card game. Board games are great but they often have a lot of parts and a lot of rules that just end up making things confusing. Card games like Rummy are hard to screw up but are just as fun. My grandparents taught me rummy and my grandmother would whoop up every year when we all played. You might be more into the euchre or hearts but the next time you have a few aunts and uncles hanging around, start up a quick game of rummy and you’ll probably learn something about them you didn’t know before.
So you think rummy as a card game is too easy? Try Rummikub and your mind will ache, partly just from reading the rules. At its core, Rummikub is the rummy card game just played with tiles instead. Each player tries to be the first to unload all their tiles by creating matching sequences and like-numbers. That might not sound like much but then throw in the part where you can rearrange the tiles on the table in any way you want and you’ll quickly find yourself spending way too long trying to get rid of more than just one tile. Rummikub is a spacial learner’s paradise with a healthy dose of number patterns. It might take a few rounds to get the hang of it but once you do you’ll want to play all night.
A card game for the ages. And when I say Uno I mean straight up Uno. Not the fancy Attack Uno or Uno Dice or Uno Slam or any other of the bastard Uno games that have come out in past several years. Just tried and true Uno. All you need is a table with a person in every seat, no batteries required. Just like rummy, Uno is understood by everyone but I’ve found that Uno brings out the swearing a little more than rummy so beware.
This was my personal favorite game to play during the holidays, but only because I loved to draw (and still do) so I thought I had a distinct advantage. However, I quickly realized that my skill at drawing Richard Nixon didn’t matter much when my teammates still couldn’t guess the answer, leaving it obvious for the opposing team. This is another game that will bring out the best vocabulary in people…and not just swearing but the things people would guess is hilarious. The laughs per minute when playing Pictionary is also off the charts, so make sure you have plenty of paper and pencils.
Cards and dice can save your holiday
In a time when everyone in your family has a smartphone and video games, it’s easy to forget how much fun “simple” games can be. I also know it’s tempting to just play the electronic versions of some of these games (even I can acknowledge the marvelousness that is Monopoly where you don’t have to make change) but playing these games at the table where they belong isn’t so much about the game itself but the people you’re playing with.
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is quite possibly the only time you’ll meet with extended family all year, so why not try to enjoy their company and have some fun? You don’t have to talk about your job, or school or your problems elsewhere in the world. You just need to have fun…and that’s easier than you might think, I don’t care how old you are.