Family Game Night
January 19, 2024
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It’s snowing here in East Tennessee. We’ve been at home for several days now and we are eating all the appropriate soups, cookies and chips. We’re watching James Bond and we’re playing lots of our favorite games.
I grew up playing games with my family. Barry did not. So when we had Marshall it was a whole new thing for him. It was like opening a door to a room full of fun he never knew existed. We love game nights and have them, still, at least once a week. When Marshall was little and we were always home together in the evenings we played games almost every night. Sometimes we’ll play them all Saturday afternoon or when we have a rainy day in the summer. Always in the winter when it snows. We play games that last for days (Monopoly) and we play games that are finished in less than five minutes. We have a whole game closet (but I'm not going to make you read through the whole list, don't worry.)
I know some of you will say, “I hate playing board games! They’re so boring!” But I would say if that’s how you feel you need to pick new games. The French call these games jeux de socèitè - games of society or public games and I love that. These are games - invitations to fun and laughter - that you can share with the people you love. Every time you play something will be different. Games are never the same. People change. Hands change. The board may change. And you’re engaging with the people you love. You’re laughing with them, spending quality time with them, just BEING with them. This is such a gift.
Because we love them and because I’m so vocal about them I get asked about games a lot. Which ones I recommend and which I don’t. So I thought I would write my favorite games, in no particular order. Each game I recommend in this list can be played for years and played with people of all ages. The first game is the only game that's mostly enjoyed (almost exclusively, really) by the preschool crowd. But it's such an important teaching tool I put it on the list. But every game is a solid addition to any family game night.
Life on the Farm is one of our most beloved memories of first games with Marshall. It's got everything a preschooler needs and if you have a young family I highly recommend this game. Kids will learn shapes, animals, colors and fine motor skills as you build your barn and put your animals in your barn. This is a reading-free game so no one will feel left out. This is my top pick for early games.
Spot It This game we go back to again and again. We actually played it multiple times last night. Barry joked that we're now in the age bracket that Marshall should give us a 30-second head start. Spot It is also a non-reading game so the whole family can play it. It's a game that you can play easily with two people or ten people. It's super-quick and each hand takes less than ninety seconds. You are matching pictures on cards and yelling the matches out (snowman! or candle! or leaf!). Spot It actually has about ten games within the game itself so it's also a fantastic value. (It's less than $8 anyway so well worth your purchase price.) I have purchased this game for so many kids and families it's crazy. They also offer a Christmas version, Disney version and I'm sure a Barbie version by now.
qwirkle Another non-reading game that's fun, flexible and educational is Qwirkle. Man oh man have we played this game a LOT. We started playing this game with Marshall to teach colors, shapes and patterns and now play it super competitively by keeping score (which is how it is intended in the rules). We've had tons of fun both ways but now that he's older it's fun to be competitive and keep score. This game (which now has a color-blind friendly version) teaches shapes, colors, patterns and counting as well as overall problem solving and strategy. It's a fabulous game night addition for any family and can be played with two people up to at least ten people. I see it pop up on my facebook page when adult friends play it on their game night with friends. It's just a lot of fun.
Eureka Dr. Eureka! This is a game built on problem solving and speed. It's so much fun. Granted we haven't played this game in a few years but even when Marshall was twelve it was fun to play. We've had this game a long time and it's been well-loved. You turn over a card and duplicate in your test tubes what the card looks like, so again, no reading involved. It's great for kids of all ages to play - I would recommend this game for anyone over the age of 4.
Otrio Otrio is the most expensive game on the list. It's from a small company and well worth the price. My sister gifted us Otrio years ago and we play it with Marshall and just by ourselves. It's for up to four people and all ages can play it. Otrio is all about strategy. It's like tic tac toe on steroids and it will drive you crazy! It's addictive and such fun. My parents played it here and actually ordered it for themselves. So it fits all ages - children and adults.
Double Shutter Double Shutter is a take on the classic pub game Shut The Box. Just without the pint (unless you fancy a pint, then by all means! Enjoy!) This game teaches addition, strategy, fine motor skills and can be played single or with as many people as you have at your party. We actually have two of these games so multiple people can play it together racing. It's durable (you can't hurt this box), it travels well, it can be played by people of all ages and it's just plain FUN. This is another great gift for anyone.
YamSlam YamSlam! We love YamSlam! We played it last night, too. This game can be played solo or in a group. It's all about strategy, luck and swagger. In our house Marshall is the KING of good luck. He can roll whatever he needs exactly when he needs it. He usually wins hands down but it's still fun to play. And this game isn't just going for the "best roll" - there's a ton of strategy to winning. Sometimes it actually pays off to go with the least points on the table to win the game. It just depends on the game at hand. So I recommend this game for you or as a gift. You can't go wrong.
The Chameleon Those of you who know my sweet little mama won't believe this but she SMOKES us all in The Chameleon. This game is for folks twelve and up I say. That's what I recommend anyway. This is a group game with themes where each person says one word that belongs in the theme (like saying "Ben" when talking about London, for instance) and where one person (the chameleon) is trying to deceive the group into thinking they know what the theme is and they're not the chameleon. You try to show you know without giving it away to the chameleon, then at the end of the round you figure out who the chameleon is. If you're right you get the points but if the chameleon fools the group they win. So all you who know my little mama can guess she fools us EVERY TIME. Who knew she was such a good deceiver?!?!? We're SHOCKED every single time. This game is great fun!
Karma karma! I love karma! It's so much fun. There's so much intrigue and drama to this game. There's luck, chance, strategy, guess work and mystery. It's a fast game - less than 10 minutes. But if you're like us you'll play it multiple times a day. It's so addicting. And it's less than $15. This game is best played by folks 7 and up I think. It's a good counting game, too. We play this with multiple generations in my family. And everybody loves it.
I hope you take time to look at some of these games and I really hope you purchase a few for your family and friends. And again, I recommend all of these as gifts. I have purchased every one of these on the list for gifts and people do love them.
And please please please - play games with your people! Fill your home with laughter, drama, joy, contentment and TOGETHERNESS every so often. Make memories. Share laughs. That's what this old world is all about.
I'd love to know what you love and what you add to your repertoire. Hit me up on instagram and let me know!