‘Tis the season for family gatherings and that means big traditional activities followed by hours of awkward togetherness with people of different generations who aren’t all that used to being together. If keeping the mob peaceful is all you want out of this annual ritual, your path is clear: Plug in the big-screen and fire up a holiday classic or game, and let the stragglers retreat to their neutral corners with their cell phones and earbuds.
But, if you hope for something more this season, you might consider offering up some activities that family members of all generations can join in. The key requisite for a successful relationship-building activity is that it fosters actual interaction. The best ones provide a context for conversation rather than pre-empting it the way a television or a video game can.
Involving the whole family
Sightseeing or visiting attractions are popular with some families, but they may not be for everyone and, let’s face it, the Harrison’s holiday light show this year is not likely to be substantially different from what many other enthusiasts are offering.
We’ve previously discussed conversation starters for families to foster better understanding across generations, and if you haven’t tried these suggestions, they are a great option. Many of our Home Helpers families also have found that games, whether competitive or not, to be useful in keeping the conversation lively without overly taxing overtired and overfed brains.
All hands on deck
Card games are always popular with older family members. Older members of the family sometimes have a favorite game they like to play and will enjoy teaching the younger ones how to have fun without a glowing screen in front of them. There are many games to play with a standard deck that you probably have in a drawer somewhere, such as Euchre or Gin Rummy. If you’re looking for a new game or the forgotten rules to an old favorite, the folks at Bicycle brand offer some ideas here.
There also are several specialty decks like Uno or Mille Bornes that many families enjoy, and they’re available for various numbers of players.
Family fun in a box
As with card games, there are a few options when it comes to board games ranging from the new to the classic and the cerebral to the silly. Classics like Scrabble and checkers–and their many variations–seem to cross generations pretty fluidly. Newer games–Cranium is an office favorite–often mix strategy and luck with skill to even the competition for players with varying levels of experience and talent. Similarly, trivia games are popular with players of all ages provided the questions and answers are balanced to give all players a fighting chance. Older players always do better with history, for example, while the younger ones have an obvious advantage when it comes to pop culture.
You also can play games that don’t require any equipment at all. You’ve probably played one or two while riding in a car, for example, and they allow you to make up the rules as you go along. One popular example is the alphabet game, in which players simply take turns naming things that begin with each letter of the alphabet. For example, if the subject is vegetable, response might be Asparagus, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Daikon, and so forth.
There really are only two rules for family games:
They must give players of all ages a competitive chance; and
Put the phones away.
If you’ve got a family favorite, share it with the community in our Facebook comments.