It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., and I hope you all are having a wonderful day! (For my readers outside the U.S., happy Thursday to you!) After the big dinner, and before the Black Friday shopping marathon, you’ve got a few hours to kill with the rest of the dinner guests. If you don’t care for football, you may be at a loss for what to do with all these people you may or may not know very well.
I’ve written numerous game reviews, and last year even made a list of ten great games to break out during the holidays. That’s all fine and good if you’re having the holiday feast at your house, or if you thought to (or had the room in the car to) bring a collection of games with you to Mom and Dad’s. But there’s a good chance that you’re back at your parents’ home, or that of another relative or a long-time friend, and your collection of cool new games is far out of reach.
Never fear! Tucked away in a closet, on top of a bookcase, or somewhere in the basement, are bound to be some old school board games that are well worth blowing the dust off. Are they geeky? Probably not. Are they still fun? You bet!
(Admittedly I realize most of you are not actually reading this article on Thanksgiving Day – but there are plenty of gatherings to be had over the next couple months. Go hunting for games like these at any of those gatherings to have some fun!)
This was one of my favorites as a kid – I have many fond memories of playing it with my parents and their best friends on cold winter nights with a plate of cookies and fudge to fuel us. For those who have never played, it’s a little like charades, except instead of acting out the clue, you have to draw a picture for your partner or other team members to guess. A great game for most ages, and you really don’t have to have any sort of artistic talent at all. Sometimes the funniest moments come from the missed guesses due to less-than-accurate artwork. (“What do you mean it was peanut?! You have clearly drawn a potato!”)
I love trivia games, even though I seem to have gotten worse at them over the years. Trivial Pursuit is a classic that’s always fun, because you never realize how many odd pieces of information are stored in your brain until the perfect question comes up. Older outdated versions of the game are still very playable, and can trigger some fun debates when the answer the game lists is no longer correct. (I do recommend avoiding the very specific versions of the game, like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, unless everyone is a huge fan. It’s not very fun to be at a table of serious Star Wars nerds and watching them rack up pie after pie while all you can do is pray for an easy question like, “Who played Han Solo?”)
Another great one from those winter nights at our neighbors’ farm, this art auction game is tons of fun. There’s plenty of strategy involved as you try to trade/buy the most valuable pieces of art, because some of them are forgeries! The game is long out of print, but I bet many of you can find a copy hiding somewhere in your grandma’s basement. (And pay attention to those art pieces you’re bidding on. You just might find that you have a real treasure in your own house.)
Monopoly and Sorry!
I lumped these two together because at this time of year, even if you somehow can’t find an old copy tucked away, you can get one at major discount retailers for less money than you’d spend on two holiday drinks at Starbucks. While Monopoly can be a lengthy (and cutthroat!) game, Sorry! is more usually pretty quick (though still cutthroat!).
Does a puzzle technically count as a game, or a toy? I don’t really know, but I do know that with a few people sitting around a card table, that 500 or 1000-piecer suddenly seems less daunting. I honestly haven’t worked a puzzle in years, but it was one of my favorite things as a kid, and I remember many a holiday where distant relatives found some common ground in looking for the edge pieces.
And Many More!
These are just the top games that came to mind for me. Who knows what childhood games of yours are still in the closet in your old room? When conversation starts to wane at your next family gathering, don’t just sit there bored (or worse, glued to your smartphone and ignoring everyone): go on the hunt for some old games. It will get rid of those awkward silences, and it just might get you out of doing the dishes.
What are some of your favorite old games to break out after a big holiday meal?