Why Board Games Will Bring You Together. And Make Someone Cry
Board games are a little like life. You can be on a roll, everything going your way and BAM! Someone sinks your battleship, sends you back to square one or steals your property right out from under you. Thankfully, life isn’t always quite so dramatic. But in the world of the board game, it’s all in good fun and everyone’s a winner when it gets you in the same room. Not long ago a friend of ours mentioned that her mother-in-law would always haul out the board games when she came to watch the kids. You know the ones that you bought with the best intentions? The ones collecting dust in an earnest but forgotten pile? And once they were out, the kids wanted to play them. Imagine that. In fact they begged to play them instead of watching TV, to squeeze one quick game in after dinner or before bed. We’re not going to lie. The thrill wears off after the 5th consecutive game of Sorry! in an afternoon. Until you realize you’re all talking and laughing and your younger kids are brushing up on their counting and memory and your older ones learning the art of negotiating and strategy. It’s not long before they’re smoking you, totally on the up and up. And they’re thrilled! Which makes it kind of fun for everyone. We wanted to give it a go at home. And after we did, we threw together a few unofficial rules of engagement designed to keep it friendly and fun for everyone: 1. Grab drinks and snacks before you start. It’s bad enough that everyone has to wait through your second potty break. Grab some snacks, a stack of napkins to keep the cards clean and a drink for everyone before you sit down. 2. Use as an ice breaker. You’ve never heard “we’re bored,” right? Mmmhmm. Sometimes it just takes a little nudge to get this party started. During playdates, extended family get-togethers or sleepovers, grab the games or a deck of cards and gather the troops. They may be resistant, but it’ll just take one turn to get ’em hooked. Snacks help (see #1). 3. Agree on a version of the rules Yes there are instructions printed on the box or that really small slip of paper. But chances are there are multiple ways to play or that someone played a different way at a friend’s house. Maybe you’re keeping score, maybe not. Agree ahead of time or someone’s going to cry. Sad but true. 4. Keep them where you can see them. Just like the dog leash, fresh fruit and exercise equipment, you’re more likely to use/eat them when you can see them. So designate an open shelf in the family room, kitchen or basement to keep a stack of your favorites so you can grab anytime. 5. Make it interesting. Consider keeping an ongoing tally and giving small prizes for the person who takes the first 10 games, like picking a favorite restaurant, movie or treat. Or make good-natured bets (loser unloads the dishwasher all week, winner gets to be king/queen for a day, etc.) to keep things interesting and fun.