Several weeks ago I wrote about new board games your family might consider for the holiday season. That was way back before Halloween, when Christmas was a distant dream and you had plenty of time to complete your shopping. You also had this cool vision for a "Mad Men"-inspired family portrait for your Christmas card, and you were going to make all your own gift tags with scrapbook supplies, and you'd carol with friends, stopping along the way for hot cider or red wine, and you'd wow the neighbors with a multicolored light display synchronized to the "Glee" Christmas soundtrack.
Or maybe that's just me.
Either way, you ran out of time. Now Christmas is closing in like a blizzard, and you still have pumpkins and withered mums on your porch. (OK, me again.)
Why, then, are we still playing board games most evenings and weekends? Because they're fun, that's why, and it's too cold and dark to do much else. Also, no matter what your overly ambitious and organized friends tell you, there's still plenty of time for shopping.
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So today I offer a list of old favorites, games our family comes back to again and again, no matter how old the kids get. "Tobias tested," you might say. We should order labels.
* Phase 10 (Fundex, $10) —This rummy-type card game never gets tiresome. You can play with two people or six — or more with multiple decks — and it fits in your purse (or a stocking).
* Trouble (Hasbro, $15) —The classic race-and-chase game is great when kids are learning to count, and still fun (maybe more) when they grow into vicious competitors.
* Blink (Mattel, $9) —In this variation of the card game Spit, players race to get rid of cards by matching them by shape, number or color. Kids often dominate, given their sharp eyes and quick hands.
* Apples to Apples Junior (Mattel, $20) —Everyone I know who buys Apples to Apples loves it. The "Junior" version, for kids who may not get some of the cultural references in the original game, is just as fun for adults.
* LCR (George and Co., about $5) —A friend got us this tube of chips with specially marked dice, and we love the glorious mindlessness of it. (Is that a word? Mindlessness? It should be, because it's glorious.) The letters stand for "left, center, right," which is the way you pass the chips depending on your roll. It's just that simple.
* Electronic Catch Phrase (Hasbro, $25) —Players rattle off as many clues as they can until someone on their team yells out the answer. (To make the ticking timer a little more bearable, put a few layers of packing tape over the speaker. You're welcome.)
* Rack-O (Hasbro, $12) —My daughter played this in second grade and came home raving, so we got one. Now it's a father-daughter ritual: Take turns drawing and discarding, get your 10 cards in consecutive order, smugly declare "RACK-O!" and watch your opponent's face drop. Then get ready for a rematch.