Why Board Games Should Be On Your Family’s Christmas List [video included]

As my sweet Grandma would say in her incredulous, 83-year-old voice, “Board games are in now!”

Gram is kind of right. While the $750-800 million-dollar board game industry doesn’t touch the multi-billion dollar figures of the video game world, board games’ figure is nothing to sneeze at.

Gram claims she was bored when playing board games with her kids in the 50s. “I used to fool around just to have some fun. I didn’t know what I was doing! But I played for the kids, you know.” Well, this summer when Gram traveled about 700 miles with my dad and step-mom to visit us, she could not get over how much fun she had playing Farkle and Apples to Apples:

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Gram celebrating one of her Apples to Apples successes.
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Same Apples to Apples game that had me crying with laughter.

(Farkle & Apples to Apples aren’t exactly board games, but they are considered as such in this post).

My up-for-anything Mom played Harry Potter Clue when she came to visit, even though she can’t stand the series on which that version of the game is based. For my birthday, my friends and I celebrated with wine, chocolate, and Taboo. My small group in Savannah has some pretty distinct memories of Apples to Apples, Cranium and Seinfeld Scene-It. Last New Year’s Eve, a four-person game of Dutch Blitz went well into the early morning hours after spending about 17 minutes at a bar, enough to usher in 2012. (I know, big party people, huh?)

Many of these memories involve no alcohol and ordinance-breaking noise levels, and the kind of laughter that gives stomach aches and headaches. (I have been at a game night where the cops were actually called because of the noise. It was only 10:20! And it was a Saturday. And there was no alcohol involved.) And, truthfully, these nights involve relationships that I would not trade for anything. Relationships that are fortified by our board game bonding.

Similar fun is available with video games, but what I’m talking about is around-the-table, look-each other-in-the-competitive-eye, card-picking/piece-moving/spoon-throwing board games.

And this is why:

My brother went on to a grandiose loss, but he fought tooth and nail before his last Army went defeated by a quick roll of the dice. Eventually my husband and I declared a truce with Dad & Linda.

I have nothing against video games. I was born in the 80s and grew up happily playing on first generation Nintendo and Playstation consoles. And I’m not encouraging you to stop playing video games. I’m just encouraging you to balance game time with board games. There is something to be said for sitting around a table and interacting with/laughing with/playfully threatening each other. Sitting around the table and strategizing with pieces right in front of your eyes, instead of through a screen.

And, by the way, this suggestion is not coming from someone who wins board games. I’ve never, not once in my 28 years, won Life, thanks to my cousin Joe and my husband. I am pretty sure I only won Monopoly once or twice, but I probably cheated (I was always the banker). Growing up, I was a hopeless detective with Clue, terrible with anything trivia related, and my mom rolled the winners every time with Yahtzee. But, truly, some of the best memories of my life are of board games with my family and friends. To me, there is almost nothing more fun and memorable than the laughter and wit that emerges from a good ole round of a board game.

Give it a shot, and enjoy the joyous board game ruckus bouncing off the walls…

Some suggestions to get you started:

1. Settlers of Catan or Risk, for those of you who like to strategize.

2. Wits & Wagers or Balderdash, for those of you who are walking vats of trivia/statistics knowledge.

3. Taboo or Apples to Apples, for those of you who like card games and matching descriptions.

4. Clue (including specialized versions), for those of you who like slower-paced, figure-it-out-yourself kind of games.

5. Cranium (Jr. edition included) or Pictionary Man, for those of you attached to creative games.

This is an extremely limited list, but it’s just to get you started.

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You tell me:

What is your family/friend group’s go-to board game?

What is your favorite game memory?

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