Relax and Fill Time With Classic Puzzles and Games

For the rest of winter break, you might be needing a break from devices. Here’s all the motivation you need for going low tech with jigsaw puzzles and classic board games.

According to one report, the demand for jigsaw puzzles has been so great, one company hired 30 people to help deal with orders, and another is shipping around the clock.

Puzzle maker Ravensburger, whose North American headquarters is in Seattle, sells everything from 100-piece Disney puzzles for kids to a massive 40,000-piece puzzle that set a Guinness World Record, reported a sales surge unlike any they’ve seen in spring 2020.

“We’re seeing sales numbers that we typically see in December during the height of holiday shopping season,” said Thomas Kaeppeler, President of Ravensburger North America. “To put it in perspective, Ravensburger sold 21 million puzzles worldwide in 2019 and sold seven puzzles per minute in North America alone. So far this year, after the surge this past month, we are looking to be closer to reaching sales of 20 puzzles per minute in 2020.”

A survey conducted for the company last year found that 59% puzzle to relax, 47% puzzle to destress and 57% puzzle for fun, so it makes sense that during this time more people are settling down with puzzles.

“Jigsaw puzzling is an activity that keep brains and hands both engaged and calm, which is hugely helpful during this stay-at-home time,” said Kaeppeler.

Board Games

Classic board games have also been popular with people who are looking for comfort in these stressful times. Here are some suggestions:

Monopoly  First published by Parker Brothers in 1935, Monopoly is considered the ultimate board game. Games can go on for hours. Players buy, sell and trade properties, as well as build houses and hotels on their properties. When an opponent lands on your property, you collect rent.  The more you own, the more rent you can collect. Bankrupt all of your opponents to win the game. For 2-8 players.

Clue A British musician came up with the murder mystery game during World War II as a way to pass the time while stuck inside during air-raid blackouts. Players don their detective hats and try to figure out which one of the game’s six iconic characters committed murder — and where and with what weapon. Was it Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with the revolver? Use your powers of deduction to figure out whodunnit to win the game. For 3 to 6 players.

Parcheesi India’s national game of Pachisi, known as Parcheesi in America, has been played for hundreds of years. Players race to get their four pawns into the center “home” space. There are interesting twists to the game. You can form blockades that prohibit pawns from passing, and of course you can capture an opponent’s pawn and send it back to the starting point. Plus, you can split up the numbers you roll on the dice. For example, if you roll a two on one die and a four on the other, you could move one pawn six spaces, or move one pawn two spaces and another four spaces.

If you roll doubles, you get to roll again. If you roll doubles when all four of your pawns are on the board, there’s a bonus — you use not only the numbers shown on top of the dice, but the numbers on the opposite side as well (which always adds up to 14). But roll three sets of doubles and one pawn gets sent back to its home circle. For 2-4 players.

Scrabble The granddaddy of crossword games. Created in 1933 by an out of work architect, the game features scoring opportunities like double- and triple-word scores. The player with the highest score once all of the letters are played wins the game. You’ll want to have a dictionary handy in the event of word challenges. For 2-4 players.

Chinese Checkers  Chinese checkers did not originate in China but was developed in 1883 by a Massachusetts surgeon. The goal is to get all of your pieces (most often marbles) to the opposite base on the board using “steps” (moving to an adjacent hole) and “hops” (jumping over pieces – both your own and your opponent’s). Hops can be made in any direction, and multiple hops can be combined during a turn.  There’s a lot of strategy involved when you set up a great series of hops that gets you from one side of the board to the other in one turn. But beware, because the other players may take advantage of your set-up. The first player to move all their pieces into the opposing base wins. For 2 to 6 players.

Classic Games for Children

Candyland Kids as young as 3 can play this game since it requires no reading and moves are made according to colored squares or picture cards drawn by the players. Players travel along a colorful path through peppermint stick forests and gumdrop mountains. The first player to reach “home” wins. For 2 to 4 players.

Chutes and Ladders For ages 4 and up. Players spin the spinner to see how many spots they’ll move. Land on good deeds and you’ll climb ladders toward the winning spot. Land on a “good deed” and you can move up a ladder, but land on the wrong spot and you’ll shoot down a chute. Spin the spinner to see how many spots you’ll move. The first player to reach the square marked 100 wins.  For 2 to 3 players.

Insider tip: If you’re feeling a virtual game night, Actively Northwest Insider Thomas recommends Boggle and Code Names using Zoom and an actual board game.

Image by Lena Gadanski

Susan Wyatt

A Western Washington native, Susan Wyatt writes about health and wellness, pets, travel, etc. etc. In her off-hours she enjoys gardening, reading and playing bagpipes. She lives in Issaquah with a ginger cat named Vinny (aka Yawny McYawnface).



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