I love the internet and DVDs. I don’t know what I’d do without them. But once in a while, I really feel the need to turn them off and be entertained by something I can actually touch. Whether you just need an occasional break or are actually thinking of dumping your cable to save some money, there are a lot of other ways for you and/or the rest of your household to have fun.
The great thing about board games is the variety. They can be intellectually challenging (Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble), ridiculously goofy (Operation), or strategic (chess). They can involve sitting around a table, moving pieces on a board, or just sitting around the living room reading questions or challenges to each other. With a speakerphone and something like Trivial pursuit, you could even include a kid who’s away at college or a friend across town.
And don’t forget RPGs (role-playing games) like Dungeons & Dragons. Long before “gaming” became a digital phenomenon, it happened on boards with dice and game pieces and brought friends together in the same room.
I love card games. The only problem is, some of them require a specific number of players, and for some reason you never get the right number. (I’m convinced there’s a law of physics or something that causes this.) Classics like euchre, gin rummy, bridge, and various types of poker are challenging and addictive, and be forwarned: some people take them very seriously. Games like Uno and Phase 10 are part strategy and part luck, so people tend to take them less seriously and just have a good time.
If you’ve got exactly four people who want to play, one of my favorite card games ever is Rook. It’s a little like euchre and a little like bridge – you have teams of two playing across the table, and one suite is chosen each round as “trumps.” The better you are at remembering which cards have been played, the better you’ll do. What’s so fun about it is that everything can be going great for one team and suddenly – BLAM! – massive reversal because of almost any card coming at a particular time. There’s a lot of strategy to it, and definitely a learning curve, but well worth the effort.
There are also solitaire card games to consider. I enjoy playing these on computers, but every once in a while it’s so nice to handle actual cards!
Encourage kids to go outside or into the rec room and pretend to be fictional characters they like. This was once how most kids under 12 spent most of their time, before video games and the internet came along. Alternately, a whole household can get together and decide to act out a scripted play just for the heck of it. For some of you, this won’t hold any appeal at all, but for those of you who like to ham it up, it can be a lot of fun. You can design sets, props and costumes, if you really want to get into it.
More and more people are starting to think of cooking meals as a form of entertainment in itself instead of a chore. Cooking gives you a chance to be creative and enjoy an activity by yourself or with other people. It can also be great for your wallet and waist line, compared to eating out. Trying out new recipes is exciting, and the sense of accomplishment when they turn out delicious lasts for days. Just remember to have a sense of humor when it turns out all wrong.
And “cooking” doesn’t just mean preparing meals. You might discover a latent love of decorating cupcakes or other baked goods, or cooking muffins for the office.
Go for a drive
Those of you in the middle of a congested city with hideous traffic may be scratching your heads in wonder at this suggestion, but if you live in an area where you can get out of (or into) town easily for a change of scenery, getting out in the car for a little while can be refreshing. Make it more fun by playing “I Spy” or keeping an ongoing list of out of state license plates you’ve seen on your drives.
Reading books and magazines is a lot of fun on your own, but it can also be a household event. Work your way through a classic novel by having a different family member read each paragraph or chapter aloud.