Games Night: 5 More Games For Family Fun Night

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The holidays are sneaking up on us, and my kids are making lists of all the things we’re going to do that don’t involve eating dinners out of Tupperware in the back of the minivan or needing to get out of our pajamas. They crave the change in routine as much as I do. We’re looking up family-friendly movies (and have a few we plan to see in the theatre, too) and piling up games and puzzles to take over the dining room table after Christmas dinner is cleared.

We are a household that enjoys games, both hands-on and screen-based. Each year, we put a new set of board games (see last year’s post for my top five suggestions) under the tree. Here are some family-friendly versions we’ve discovered this past year and a couple of new ones that we look forward to unwrapping during our holiday hygge.

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BLOKUS
Just like one of our other family favourites, Bounce Off, this game requires minimal explanation or time spent working out the rules. It’s perfect for a wide variety of ages, and easy to pull out at playdates. It’s a hands-on Tetris like game and appeals to anyone who likes geometry and strategy.

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SEQUENCE

Got a kid who could use some extra practice with math? This is the perfect sneaky way to make that happen, while still having fun. My parents love playing this game and my sister generously gifted our house and theirs with our own sets.

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SETTLERS OF CATAN

I used to love playing games like Risk and Survival when I was a kid, so it delights me to see my son and his friends gathered around a card table playing this very popular and strategic game. It’s great for communication and provides a good pace for hoovering back lots of snacks, too. There are also several add-on packs that can be purchased.

TICKET TO RIDE

I haven’t had a chance to play this game yet, but all the reviews I’ve heard from family and friends have been positive. Like, Settlers of Catan, it’s a game of strategy. It’s also a game that straddles several age groups and perfect for parents to play with their kids.

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HARRY POTTER TRIVIA PURSUIT

There is a lot of Potter paraphernalia going under our tree this year. We’ve had the travel-sized Harry Potter Trivia Pursuit set of cards since two Christmases ago, but this year we’re going big with the full-scale version. I’m no longer able to compete with my kids when it comes to any Potter trivia. But it warms my heart to watch them tossing out facts about these beloved characters. All four of them are heavily invested in the series, and I know this is going to be a hit for our family.

If you have any MUST-PLAY games to add to this list, please send them my way. We have every intention of going into full hibernation this holiday season. It’s a great time to reconnect and catch up with each other, and I’m really looking forward to the slower pace now that my kids are old enough to hang out without squabbling (most of the time, anyway). Happy gaming!

Games Night: 5 Games Guaranteed To Make Your Family Laugh

family-games

When I was a kid, there was a shelf in our family's spare bedroom that was filled with board games. My sister and I made a lot of trips in and out of that room to grab games that would have us spending hours at our kitchen table with bottomless bowls of chips. We played them with each other, with neighbourhood friends and with our cousins during epic sleepovers.

I knew I wanted a board game shelf when I had my own kids and we have built a pretty impressive collection, stocked with a lot of the classics from my childhood (Sorry, Monopoly, Twister, Trouble, Boggle, Scrabble). But, thanks to the creativity and genius of today's game designers, we also have several lesser-known games that are fantastic. 

Here are my family's top five favourites (for now, because we're always looking for more). They are games that suit the number (four) and ages of our kids (six to fourteen).

BOUNCE OFF

You flip a card and both players try to recreate the pattern by bouncing their balls into the grid. Whoever does it first, wins the card. Truth be told, this is a great game when my youngest is out of sorts and needs a good redirect and a way to let off some steam or spend some one-on-one time with me. It's also a great playdate game because you don't have to spend a lot of time explaining rules. 

APPLES TO APPLES (and APPLES TO APPLES JUNIOR)

Photo from mattel.com

Photo from mattel.com

This is a hilarious card game that actually works on descriptive language and writing skills the sneaky way (by making it fun!). One player acts as the judge and chooses a descriptive card for each round (with adjectives). Each player has a hand of cards from which they choose a thing they feel best fits with the descriptive card. The judge chooses the best combination (and some of them are pretty hilarious) and that player then wins the card. Everyone gets a chance to be judge. This game was so popular that several versions have since come out, including Apples to Apples Junior (age 3+) which we added to our collection so our youngest could play, too. 

TELESTRATIONS

Okay, so the video above shows a pretty tame round of this family favourite. When it's played at my house, there is a LOT of whooping and hollering and laughing until we have to dry our eyes and blow our noses. My kids LOVE this game (and so do the grown ups). It's become our go-to game when we have friends over, too, because it's the perfect icebreaker. It's easy to teach and so fun to play.

**We recently bought the Telestrations After Dark version (ages 18+) and brought it a holiday gathering — I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. 

SLEEPING QUEENS

Photo from gamewright.com

Photo from gamewright.com

This card game was recommended to us by another family with four kids. We managed to find it in an educational store (for teacher supplies) and it's been a game that goes everywhere with us since. The best part about this game is that it was dreamt up by a real life six-year-old, when she couldn't fall asleep one night. And because of that, the game makes perfect sense to its pint-sized players. It strengthens math, memory and strategy (you've got to wake those sleeping queens!) skills without your kids even realizing it. Two parenting thumbs up!

EXPLODING KITTENS

This hilarious card game made its way to us via the business section of the weekend newspaper. JB read an article about the Kickstarter campaign and how wildly successful it had been for the creators of this game. When he read more about how the game was played, he decided to would be a good gift to put under the tree last year — he shares a really good sense of humour with our kids. From the moment they opened the box and heard the "meeeeeoooooooowwwww" they've been hooked. This is also a highly portable game that always comes camping with us and always ends up being tons of rowdy fun.  
 

We've got a few more days to come up with this year's under-the-tree family board game idea, and I would love to hear your suggestions. I hope this post has given you some good ideas. Feel free to ask any questions you might have. Happy gaming, everyone!

Friendship Is Magic: A My Little Pony Birthday Party

You know how it is when you're three. 

Every pint-sized person you cross paths with is your friend. The kids at preschool, the ones you swim beside at lessons and twirl beside in ballet class. All of them, true friends. 

Our youngest daughter—the least shy of our lot—takes this to the extreme. 

She would move every friend into our house if she could. The more the merrier, as far as she's concerned. 

So planning her fourth birthday, and her first more-than-just-family party, put us in a bit of a situation—namely that we don't live in a stadium. 

School friends, dance friends, family friends?

I kept tossing around the logistics, until JB finally said Why don't you just invite your friends? 

Thanks to some beautiful fate, a handful of my womenfolk had daughters around the same time as me. We get together often, and we rely heavily on one another for support (and humour) over coffee cups and smartphones (hello, texting!).

Every one of them, and their daughters, have spent time in our home. 

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The party was a success because of the people who came, yes, but it couldn't have happened without the talent and enthusiasm of women in my community (and greater parenting village).

I want to take some time, and space here, to thank them.

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{Thank you Jennifer for finding this custom t-shirt from XandersWorld on Etsy}

We had already settled on a My Little Pony themed party. The franschise's motto that friendship is magic made a lot of sense to me, when it came to pulling this day together.

Several months ago, I saw my friend Alexandria's post about her daughter's pony-inspired party. When the planning finally got underway, I emailed her to ask some questions and she offered to help me with some games. Just like that I had beautiful posters and wonderful ideas sitting in my inbox. 

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Then my creative friend, Dana, posted about her daugther's Doodlez Alive pony party and happily shared their information and her recommendation. Dana has an eye for beautiful things (really, go visit her blog) and I knew it would be a great group activity. I had hoped to capture a photo of all the kids and their pony creations, but they wouldn't stop galloping all over the place. Thankfullly, Doodlez Alive owners, Angela and Daniella, sent me this collage.

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Next came the sweets for my sweetie. A friend of mine recommended local mom and baker, Lisa, from Little Cakes Bakery. She made these adorable (VEGAN) cupcakes, including a special Rainbow Dash for the birthday girl. 

Ponycake

And while we're talking sweets, how was I supposed to resist these homemade cookies by The Sugar Gals, Leanne and Kerri - yet another duo of wonder moms from our community. They were custom-designed and smelled and tasted like buttery heaven. Watching the partygoers' faces when they saw them was priceless. 

Ponycookies

Long after the end-time on the invitation had passed, we sat laughing and drinking coffee, while the kids chased balloons and worked off their cupcakes. Two of my sisters and their kids were here, too. I was surrounded by my friends, whose children have become my daughter's friends.

I'm glad our kids saw us there together—they don't know how much we've carried each other through the sweet and sad moments, but they did see that we share a friendship, and I hope they will know the same unconditional acceptance in their lives.

As each of them headed to the door to say their good byes, we gave them a memento of appreciation.

Ponybags

Handmade by Joanne from Litterless Lunch Lady, these gorgeous snack bags with a Chapter's gift card and delicious pony cookie were well-received. In fact, one of the moms has since decided to use it for herself. 

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It hasn't been easy getting myself to this day. And JB had it right when he said I should surround myself with the friends who have been there with me and this little girl for the past four years.

Friendship really is magic.

 

 

 

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