Our family, like many others in this day and age, tends to enjoy various forms of electronic entertainment. Computer games, Xbox, Wii, movies, TV shows … the list goes on! That’s all well and good but what happens when the power goes out? It’s important to keep low tech entertainment options around. And plenty of them! Here are some options to consider.
Several decks of cards are an important and inexpensive addition to your family game closet. Most of you probably have them lying around already. In my mind this is one of those things you can’t have too many of. Be sure to have pads of paper or notebooks for keeping score. A copy of Hoyle’s Rules is a good idea too. Aside from a standard deck of cards you should also consider owning copies of individual card games such as Uno, Phase Ten (a favorite in the Kearney household), etc. The more variety you have the better.
Rudy’s Frugal Idea: To get cheap (FREE!) decks of cards, go to your local casino. Preferably smaller ones. Most gaming regulations require casinos to swap out decks on a regular basis and those decks can no longer be reused. Many casinos give them away to anyone who wants them for free instead of throwing them away. It’s a good PR move for them and a free source of card decks for us!
Board games range widely in complexity and age range from Candy Land to Axis and Allies. Nonetheless they are a core part of any game closet. Keep a good variety of games around so they don’t get stale. We find it valuable to have simple games as well as longer term complex games around. That way you are more likely to find something that fits your mood. Very important!
Think crayons, coloring books, origami paper and instruction booklets, paper airplane books … that sort of thing. Add playdough and cookie cutters to the mix and you’ve got things for all ages to do. One of my daughters loves to make bead jewelry for example. She rarely finishes it but she enjoys the process anyways! You will know best what your family likes to do so make sure you’re stocked at all times!
Rudy’s Frugal Idea: One extremely popular source of things to color in our home are internet sites that let you download and print things off. One of our sons will sit down with a stack of the Star Wars Death Star coloring pages and go at it for hours. Having a good stash of these preprinted is a big hit around here. A Google search for ‘Free Coloring Pages’ works great. I often cheat and do an image search so I can quickly find what I’m looking for!
Other Active Toys
Our kids love things like legos, Bionicles, GeoTrax, Lincoln Logs and so on. The key here is to avoid the ‘fluff’ like McDonalds toys and opt for things that are active and encourage imaginative and creative play. Things that can be reconfigured in different ways are important and if they’re battery powered that’s just gravy on top!
Wrapping It All Up
Many games can be found cheaply at sales or thrift stores. Often little hole in the wall shops have sales on a regular basis. The most important thing is to integrate these activities in normal daily life. Just like eating from your food storage as an integral part of your diet prevents shock to the body, being used to playing games will make it easier when the power goes out and you have no choice but to stick with non electronic options. Besides, game night is a great family bonding experience!