Between working, transporting the kids around, and cleaning, spending quality time together with your family can sometimes fall to the wayside. This is especially true when you factor in TV, texting, and social media habits. But here's the good news: Family bonding doesn't have to mean taking expensive excursions. In fact, playing games is a cheap and cheerful way to enjoy one another's company and strengthen relationships.
"With life being so busy, finding time to spend together as a family can be hard," says Sam Rice, director at children's entertainment company StarDust Kids. "Family-focused games give both children and parents an opportunity to spend real, undistracted time together and create memories."
As well as being great fun, playing games also helps your kids develop. "One benefit of playing games together is improved communication," says Kimberley O'Brien, PhD, principal child psychologist at The Quirky Kid Clinic. "You're making the most of unstructured time and talking about things that aren't about unpacking your school bag or doing homework. Games are also really good for learning about winning and losing, and teaching kids about sportsmanship."
So hide the remote, lock up the laptops, and enjoy our top picks of retro games that will bring everyone together.
The Tray Game
"It's good to play games not based on physical strength or cognitive ability," says Dr. O'Brien. "With memory games, kids often beat the parents, which is always a good thing!"
You'll need: A tray, a random selection of items, pens, and paper for each player.
How to play: Add a range of items to a tray (the more pieces, the harder it is). Everyone is given a minute or two to memorize as many as possible. Once the time is up, remove the tray. All players must then make a list of what they remember. The winner is whoever recalls the most.
Crank it up: Dial up the difficulty and get extra points for remembering the colors of each piece, too.
Flap the Fish
Especially fun for little ones, this race game is a party-pleaser. Just increase the distance to the finish line to make it more difficult.
You'll need: A "fish" (fish-shaped cutouts from tissue or A4 paper) and a rolled-up newspaper for each player.
How to play: Set up your start and finish lines on the floor (try 10 feet apart to start with and adjust accordingly by age group). Players stand behind the start line and position their fish. At a given signal, players use the breeze from fanning their rolled-up newspaper to "flap the fish" toward and over the finish line. The first one to get there wins!
Crank it up: Older players might enjoy swapping the fish for a toy car, and then using a party blower to nudge the cars across the floor.
Sucker for Fun
This game can be enjoyed by individual players or by relay-style teams.
You'll need: Playing cards or thick straws and small sheets of paper.
How to play: Utilizing suction power, players use straws to transfer the playing cards or paper sheets from one pile to another. Whoever does the most in a set amount of time or gets to the bottom of their pile first wins.
Crank it up: Thinner straws need next-level skills!
As a rare treat, this game is great fun for all ages. Leave your diet at the door and enjoy the mayhem!
You'll need: A pair of wooly gloves, a knife and fork, a large family-sized block of chocolate, and a die.
How to play: Sit in a circle with the slab of chocolate, cutlery and gloves in the middle. Taking turns to roll the dice, the first person to roll a six puts the gloves on and then eats as much chocolate — using only the knife and fork and only cutting up one square at a time — until the next six is thrown.
Crank it up: Adding ski gloves or more items of clothing to put on first make this game harder.
This post was written by Amy Tomkys. For more, check out our sister site, Homes to Love.
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