Lisa Thornbury: Party Mummy


Top Ten Family Board Games for All Ages

Savour Your Time Together

Top Ten Family Board Games For All Ages

“Play a game with us! Please. PLEASE!!! PUH-leeeeeeeeeze!!!”

This was how my twelve-year-old best friend and I begged her mom to play with us. A card game called Cheat was our favourite; it taught me to read “tells” and how to effectively hide cards in my training bra.  

Board games also taught me how to win and lose with grace (mostly). I also learned how to take turns and to strategize. But mostly I learned the value of interacting with others in a playful way, which may or may not include varying degrees of smack talk.

I wish I could say that when my kids beg me to play games with them I drop everything, gather them around the table and play for hours. Sadly this is not usually the case. It's not like I run away and hide or use a series of distraction techniques to get out of it. I love board games. But work deadlines, taking care of the house, making meals—in the words of Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that." There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Right?

Wrong. There are 24 hours. Lately I’m just disorganized. However, I’m discovering that it is possible to fit in the "must-dos" and the "want-to-dos." My friend's mom did it, so why can't I? 

One of my main time-gaining items is my slow cooker. I use it at least two days a week. 

I use it on Wednesdays, so our meal is ready when we get home from gymnastics (I make enough for leftovers so dinner is taken care of when we get home from skating lessons on Thursdays).

And I use it on slow-cooker Sundays, so while supper simmers away, I actually have time to play, knowing that we’ll have a meal waiting for us once mummy finishes showing her family no mercy at the games table. See what I mean about “mostly” learning to win gracefully?

And as if the slow cooker isn’t easy enough, Club House has Slow Cookers Seasoning Mixes that are super tasty and convenient (Read: mix in with meat and veggies, leave it, and then get your game on!)

So now that you have this extra time on your hands, you’re going to need to know the BEST FAMILY FRIENDLY GAMES!

Here are my family's top ten favourite board games:

1. Headbanz

Headbanz is hilarious and enjoyable for all of us. The fact that my husband was a 'pickle' in our last game? There are no words.... Also, I like that I can get up and move around (i.e., check my email, unload the dishwasher and dust the bookshelves) while playing this one. 

2. Boggle

Boggle is one of my faves. I'm all about the words. Great for new readers too. When it's my daughter's turn, we challenge her to see how many two- and three-letter words she can find and give her triple points. Bonus: Curse words earn double points for players over the age of 16. 

3. Guess Who?

Guess Who is generally a two-player game, but you can play in pairs. I partner up with my daughter and help her formulate the questions to eliminate characters until the mystery person is determined. 

4. Puzzles/Rubik’s Race

We set this up as a kind of Round Robin. Two people play a more challenging puzzle like Rubik's Race, while my daughter is set up with easier puzzles. We rotate and each take a turn helping her with her puzzles. This keeps her engaged and actively entertained while the other game is going on. 

5. Uno Spin

Uno Spin is kind of like Crazy Eights, but better. Plus, there's spinning a wheel. Tricky for younger kids, but they can do the spinning and the cards work well for a simple game of War (flip cards, whoever has the highest number wins both cards until one player has them all). 

6. Scattergories

Scattergories is a game is for proficient readers and writers. Roll the letter dice and list something for each category on your card that begins with the letter rolled. To include younger kids, let them tell you all the things they can think of that begin with the letter in play. Write their answers for them. FYI Sandi, I stand by my decision — "Deer Farm" is not an acceptable answer. Live with it.

7. Sorry!

Sorry! is a classic game of survival of the fittest. By the way, when I take you down, I'm totally not sorry, at all. Sorry.

8. Whack-a-Mole

When you play Whack-a-Mole and your mole lights up a) See a doctor and get that mole checked b) whack it, fast! This game is great for kids' fine motor skills and for older kids, i.e. 44-year-olds who need to work off pent up stress. 

9. Busytown

Busytown is a game for the kiddies, but we all enjoy (i.e. can tolerate) it. Based on Richard Scarry's Busytown series, it's my daughter's favourite. Essentially, you spin the spinner and move across the board looking for clues. The goal is to get to the end TOGETHER. That's right, it's a team game where players work together to finish at the same time. Good message for little ones, however as a rule, I prefer games that have more of a blood sport/winner takes all element.

10. Monopoly

Notice that Candyland is absent from this list? This is no accidental omission. The only game more painful than Candyland is Monopoly. Coincidence that monotonous and Monopoly both begin with mono? I think not. So why include it? Sigh...because my son and husband love this game. My daughter too. She doesn't grasp the concept, but she's happy to hand out the money and the hotels and move the pieces around the board for us. Truth be told, it's great for kids. Canadaopoly (I *may* have tried to impale myself on my game piece, the CN Tower, to get out of playing) teaches geography skills. Plus there's math and of course strategizing involved. So fine, it's on the list. And who says you can't steal other player's property cards and hide them in your bra when they're not looking? Rules. Pfffft. 

And when I finally get busted for stealing money from the Monopoly bank (which has like, zero security by the way), our Sweet & Sour Slow Cooker Chicken is ready and waiting. All I have to do is serve it over a bed of rice, which automatically becomes my Get Out of Jail Free card. 

If you need family-friendly activity inspiration, be sure to visit “Fun Ways To Spend Time With Your Family” for entertaining things you and your family can do together.