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When it comes to holiday hilarity, pit the generations against each other with playing cards or board games that appeal to a wide range of ages. If you pick the right games, grandparents, parents, grandchildren, cousins and extended family can all laugh and compete together, making memories.
When one or more of her grandchildren comes for a visit, Lois Spatcher, 69, of Jacksonville, Florida, reaches for Skip-Bo, Sequence or another favorite game. “We play so many games — even some we’ve made up ourselves,” she says. “It’s a wonderful way to spend time together.”
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While family game time has always been popular, interest in board games, in particular, has surged over the last five years, spurred on by the pandemic and prolonged time spent at home, according to Trent Howell, founder of board game review site TheBoardGameFamily.com.
“There are about 5,000 new board games published every year, so demand has just exploded,” says Howell, who has been publishing online game reviews with his wife and four children since 2009.
With so many options on the market, from brand-new releases to classic favorites, the biggest challenge for family game time may simply be choosing what to play. Start by considering the interests of the people who will likely join in.
“When you’re looking for the ideal game, it’s good to know the tastes of the people you’re playing with. Some people want a game they can learn in 30 seconds, and others enjoy games that involve much more strategy,” says W. Eric Martin, news editor at BoardGameGeek, an online forum for board game fans.
Consider games that appeal to all ages — from young children to older kids, teens and adults — so multiple generations can play together.
“Games offer a way to relate and have fun with my grandkids, as opposed to immediately interrogating them with questions like ‘How’s school?’ ” says Mary Simons, 73, of Philadelphia, whose grandchildren range in age from 11 to 18.
You might be surprised how much fun it can be to watch your grown children and grandkids lose themselves in merriment around a game board. “You can hear the howls of laughter from our house when we play,” Simons says.
Ready to roll the dice or shuffle the deck? Here are a few classic games and new ones sure to bring smiles to your next family get-together.