Break Out the Board Games!
As practical peacemakers, we know that we need to restrict our media consumption (see July 16 blog post). We also know that community building is important for individual and societal happiness. What shall we and our friends do when the TV is turned off? A variety of pastimes could be considered, such as playing musical instruments, engaging in sports, or working on craft or food projects (think of pioneer women quilting or canning together). These can be deeply enriching, but all require talent and time to develop. Instead I suggest playing board games as an easy, frugal, and pleasurable way to interact. Many games can be picked up and enjoyed without any knowledge, skill or preparation.
Once a month, my husband and I and a group of friends enjoy a vegetarian potluck and board games together. We enjoy each otherís cooking and catching up on the news, then we clear the table and bring out the games. We deliberately choose games that are easy, readily understood, and not fiercely competitive. We help everyone relax by avoiding games with timers; i.e. where a player has to complete a task in a very short amount of time, and thus may feel tense and pressured. We also try to avoid games that have some players waiting a long time while other players ponder their moves (Scrabble can be like this). Not everyone likes the same games, so we try to keep each one short enough to be able to play two or more different games per evening. This has required us to come up with shorter versions of some games, like Trivial Pursuit. We take turns selecting a game to play.
If board games appeal to you, and youíd like to get your friends or family members together, give it a try. Among games that have worked well for us, the most popular has been Apples to Apples, a word association game. It is especially effective as an icebreaker for people who donít know each other. Once at a neighborhood gathering, we had a group of people ranging in age from teens to 80+ all enjoying this game together. It is completely non-threatening, the rules are simple, there is no game board, and it prompts lots of laughter. Other favorites are Wits and Wagers, Tribond, Trivial Pursuit, Quiddler, and a dominoes game called Chicken Foot.
We find that our board games group looks forward to these monthly gatherings, and welcomes an evening of socializing in a quiet home instead of meeting at a noisy restaurant or just plunking oneself down in front of the TV. Through playing games, people are enabled to get to know each other better than they could merely by talking. Friends on a budget who may not have the extra cash to meet in cafes or go to movies can readily take part.
Do you have any suggestions of games you like?