When the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter, I fetch three things, usually in this order:
1) My recipe for caramel corn.
2) My cast-iron Dutch oven and some large hunk of meat that cooks low and slow until it shreds at the slightest touch and makes our house smell like Chipotle. (This autumn routine also prompts my children to spout their perennial quote, which I beg them not to say at school: “Mom sure loves her pot.”)
3) Board games.
Board games are to fall and winter what sunscreen is to summer vacation: quintessential. So every year around this time, I talk to Gwen Ottenberg at Imagine That Toys in Wichita – a fine place to waste (I mean, spend) an afternoon – and ask her which new board/card/dice game I should add to my family’s holiday wish list.
She never disappoints. Last year the game was Tenzi, a fun and addictive little dice game that quickly became the most popular stocking stuffer in south-central Kansas (or so it seemed).
This year, Gwen is all about Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty.
“You gotta get some putty,” she said over the phone. “Just come play with it. … It’s a great stress reliever.”
It’s not a board game, but this stuff is fun. Like Silly Putty, but better – not sticky, not smelly, non-toxic, non-drying and available in more than 30 colors, including heat-sensitive, glow-in-the-dark and magnetic. Once you pick it up, it’s hard to put down. The putty comes in metal tins and costs $10 to $15.
There are plenty of new games to consider this year as well, if you’re looking for something new to play. Some are available at Ottenberg’s store, at 29th North and Rock Road. Others can be found online or at local discount stores: