Christmas is almost upon us, along with all the other winter holidays, and that means many of you are probably going to be travelling home to spend some quality time with your family. Usually, this looks like sitting around, chatting, and eating really big meals of delicious food. But doing only that leaves way too much time for things like politics or religion to pop up, so screw it! Instead, keep everyone busy with some board games!
All joking aside, I really do recommend bringing home a couple board games to play over the holidays or anytime you visit your parents. They’re entertaining, provide a little friendly competition, and they actually do keep parents off sticky subjects and from asking prying questions. The key is to find the right board games that will be fun and engaging without being too complicated or overwhelming. So here’s a couple of my favourite games I’ve found are perfect for playing with my parents and my parents-in-law.
This board game is less than perfect for the situations I outlined above since it is strictly two-player and usually around Christmastime, you are surrounded by more than one other family member. But it can still be a good choice for when the conversations seem to be happening more around you than with you, you make eye contact with your cousin who’s also sitting out the argument, and you sneak off to do something else.
The concept of Patchwork is simple: you’re putting together a quilt. Using the differently shaped pieces, you each take turns to choose a patch, pay for it with buttons, place it on your quilt, and then move around the board to represent the amount of time it took you to sew on that particular patch. It’s kind of like Tetris, but instead of the pieces falling down randomly, you can choose which one you want next and place it anywhere on your board. It’s just challenging enough to be fun and barely competitive since most people just get caught up in making the perfect quilt, rather than making sure they make more points than their opponent.
Concept is a really great game for family gatherings because it is fun, very easy to pick up, and scales to large groups very easily. It’s almost like playing charades or Pictionary, but instead of acting it out or drawing a picture, you use the library of icons on the game board to try and explain a concept. For example, if you got Harry Potter as your clue, you might indicate that the main concept is a book about fantasy, marking the picture of a book and the picture of fantasy creatures. Next, you might want to indicate that this concept also refers to a person, and mark the person icon and the male icon. You continue to mark down symbols that represent your concept until your team guesses and they get points!
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases
Now this game is very different from your typical board games. For example, it doesn’t have a board. But mostly its a game about discussion, deduction, and strategy. There are no pieces or characters to play. It does take a certain type of person to want to play a game like this without thinking its boring, since it requires a lot of reading, searching for clues, and taking notes.
You play as a group of Sherlock’s most important informants – poor kids from the streets of London. A new mystery is afoot and Sherlock invites you to try and solve the mystery yourself and challenges you to do it faster than him. You are then presented with the details of the case, and the rest is up to you! Together you choose which relevant locations to visit, suspects to interrogate, and clues to follow up on. Everything happens inside a playbook, and one person is in charge of reading different parts of the book according to your decisions. You are also given a newspaper from that week to look for leads and a phonebook to follow up on those leads with.
The game ends when you think that you’ve learned all you need to learn about the case. Points are awarded according to how many locations you had to visit (the fewer it took, the better) and how many of the final questions you answered correctly. After that, compare your score to the great detective himself to see if you bested him, or at least to learn the truth of the mystery!