There could not be a better time to pull out your stash of board games than the holiday season. Families and friends are starting to come together for endless dinners, get-togethers, happy hours, sleep-overs, and parties to celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year. Aside from all of the eating, drinking, and gift-opening going on, there’s also a lot of “down time” or “family time” happening. Board games are the perfect way to make the most of all this togetherness, and it’s much more fun (and healthier!) than everyone staring at the television or their cell phone screens after dinner!
Here are our most important reasons board games should be an essential part of your holiday routine:
- Board games are great “diffusers.” Religion and politics. The two forbidden topics around any holiday dinner table… and yet? They also seem to be the two topics that people always circle back to (especially politics these days, am I right?). Unless you’re playing the notoriously instigative game whose name we will not mention (but you’re up a river if you land on Park Place with hotels), board games offer a kind of “neutral zone” during a holiday gathering where everyone, regardless of political leanings or anything else, can come together for a fun, shared activity. And, should we even mention those complicated family relationships that instantly tense up any dinner table? Playing a game together in a group is one of the best ways to diffuse the tension, lighten the moment, and turn the focus to something fun and lighthearted (and off of old family resentments or beefs).
- Board games bring everyone together. If you choose to play a board game with broad age range criteria and suitable for all skill levels, it really is a wonderful way to engage multi-generational family members in an activity that everyone can enjoy. These types of games (like games of strategy or luck) are valuable because grandparents and older relatives can enjoy just as much as younger players. And, let’s face it, how often does that actually happen? In order to make it truly fun for everyone, you might want to avoid playing games that are only appealing to children, trivia games, or in-depth role playing games that require a lot of knowledge or experience (and personal interest) to play.
- Board games get people off their smartphones. Given the number of hours we all spend looking at some kind of screen, you’d think the holiday season would be a welcome respite what with all the actual face time we get with family and friends. But how many times have you stood in a living room full of family and seen half of them watching tv and the other half (oh, who are we kidding… all!) staring at their cell phones? It’s a familiar scene played out every year in households across the world. Board games are, simply put, the perfect antidote to screens. They’re fun and engaging enough to entice even the most tech-addicted family member to put down their device and enjoy some real-live human interaction with their loved ones. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about anyway?
- Board games make great holiday memories. Watching a sports game or holiday special on TV as a group may be fun in the moment, but do you really think you’ll look back on it 20 years later as a cherished family memory? Likely not. Board games are kind of magical that way. Not every round is monumental, but, overall, the togetherness and the laughs that you share as you play into the wee hours of the morning make for some of the best holiday memories you (and the kids especially) will have.
- Board games make you smarter (no, really!). From building emotional and social intelligence to strengthening important skills like critical thinking, problem solving, memory, strategic thinking, or conflict resolution, board games (as educators have long known) are excellent teaching tools that “sneak” in some hardcore learning as you’re having fun. So you can feel good over the holidays that what feels like an indulgence or just plain fun (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) is also a brain-boosting exercise that’s good for everyone at the table.
- Board games reduce stress. Newsflash: the holidays can be a stressful time for many people. I know, stating the obvious, but, yes, it has actually been proven. Board games are great at reducing stress for one main reason — they make you happy. If you’re enjoying yourself, having fun, living in the present, laughing, and spending time with friends or family (all things that playing a board game can bring), then you’re automatically engaging in activities and emotions that are known stress-reducers.
Happy Holidays (and happy playing)!