Economic woes are challenging families to find inexpensive entertainment options. Others are looking to get away from electronic gizmos and reconnect. For many, an old-fashioned family game night is the answer.
A recent survey commissioned by Hasbro found that 48 percent of Americans believe game nights are the best type of family bonding.
"Now that school is out,'' said Julie Livingston with the Toy Industry Association, "it's a great time to make a date with family members and kids'' to play games.''
Livingston advises "making it a regular part of your routine on a Friday or Saturday evening'' to get the most enthusiasm and participation from the entire family.
Games solidify relationships and create special memories, she says. Games also are an ideal way to get different generations together.
Some tips for making family game night a success, from Kit Bennett at amazingmoms.com:
• Be consistent. Schedule an hour or two for the game. If every week is difficult, try twice a month, then mark your calendar and make it a priority. • Purchase a few games to get started if you don't already have games, and then gradually add to the collection.
• Give the kids a 30-minute reminder when game time approaches. This allows them time to finish up what they're doing, so they'll be more likely to come to the table with a positive attitude.
• No interruptions or distractions; turn off the TV, cell phone and PDA, and let phone calls go to voicemail.
• Select games that everyone will enjoy. Often this is difficult if there is a large age difference between your children. Parents or older siblings can team up with little ones or you can create a variation of a more challenging game.
• "Know the interests of everyone involved,'' adds Janet Meredith, who regularly plays games with her family. "If you have some players who love spelling but others can't spell, then you won't want to play Scrabble. It's just not going to be any fun for anyone.''
• Each week assign a family member to be "in charge'' of the game night; they pick the snack and game for the evening. Or delegate different tasks to different family members.
- For ideas for getting started, visit Hasbro.com.
- Pick a game from this list of reviews, which evaluates each game for its design to provide equal opportunity for winning, clear rules and tempo to keep everyone involved. Prices and age ranges are also included. Check out Piraten Pitt and Eureka!
- boardgamegeek.com and funagain.com offer reviews on games suitable for family game night.
- icandothatgames.com lists games that boost a child's self-confidence by providing opportunities to discover what they can do on their own. Favorite Dr. Seuss and Curious George characters challenge kids to run, slide, hide and seek, explore and more: "Cat in the Hat … I Can Do That!''; "The Grinch…Sing Your Heart Out!''; and "Curious George … ide and Seek Zoo.''
- endlessgames.com: Updates classic games with modern-day twists, including versions of Password, The Price is Right, Family Feud, Tic Tac Toe and X-ceter-o.
- blueorangegames: Prides itself for being environmentally conscious, planting two trees for every one used to create their games. Try Gobblet Junior and Bendomino.