It’s Your Money Column – Low-Cost Fun Family Games

If your family has never tried games, you have a real treat in store. Games can be silly and challenging, but most of all they are a wonderful way for families to simply enjoy each other. I polled family and friends and here are their suggestions for games that don’t cost a cent. And in these lean budget times, cost-free entertainment is always welcome.

This one works well with smaller children: One person says, "I spy with my eye and I see (and you give a vague detail like) something blue." Now it’s time for other family members to guess. You can give hints as you go. 15 to 20 guesses keep the game lively.

A game for children from 7 to 12 years of age is Hangman. Across a piece of paper, make one dash for each letter in a word. If the guesser identifies a letter in the word correctly, fill it in. Every time the guess is wrong, draw a piece on a stick body. (For short games, use a head, two arms, a body and two legs. For longer games, add mouth, eyes, nose, fingernails, etc.) The guesser wins if they guess the word before the body is completed.

For ages 13 through adult, try the dictionary game. This can be played singly or in teams. An obscure word is taken from the dictionary and written with the definition on a piece of paper. Pieces of paper including the one with the correct definition are mixed up in a bowl and each person or team draws. Each team has several minutes to come up with their definition of the word – the sillier the definition, the more fun the game. Each team reads their definition aloud. Then each team votes on the correct definition. For every vote your team receives for a fake definition, you get a point. Teams that choose the correct definition also get a point. After scoring, the dictionary passes to the next team to pick a word and start again. The team that first scores 30 points wins.

Examples of favorite board games that cost little and offer hours of challenge and fun are Clue, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Checkers, Pictionary, Scruples and Aggregation.

Make a vow to keep television to a minimum and revive the old-fashioned and low-cost fun of playing family games.