It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of all the COVID stay-at-home advisories. It’s been a weird year for sure but not all entirely bad. We’ve saved money, tried tons of new recipes, completed a bunch of home renovation/organization projects, started reading again, witnessed all of Palmer’s developmental milestones and growth firsthand and spent tons of time together as a family. Of course not all of it has been ‘quality time.’
With so much gray between weekdays vs. weekends and work time vs. family time nowadays, it was starting to wear on us so a few weeks ago we instituted one screen free night per week. That means no TV/movies, no phones, social media, zoom happy hours, work emails, friend texts, etc. In lieu of screens, we simply hang out, talk and listen to music while we play a game – usually Monopoly Deal. I know it might sound a little cheesy, perhaps even borderline boring, but it’s been so good for us both to set aside time each week to focus on each other distraction free.
As I mentioned, we love Monopoly Deal but we’ve started to brainstorm other games/activities that are fun for just two people so I wanted to share our list because I know many people are currently in the same boat!
1 // Monopoly DealGrowing up I loved Monopoly but it can be such a hassle to play – it’s time consuming and not all that fun for just two people. Enter Monopoly Deal – same strategy as Monopoly but a single game takes 15 minutes or less. We’ve played in large groups and with just the the two of us and it’s fun either way. On a given night, Kevin and I might play 8-10 games because they’re so quick and easy.
2 // Jigsaw PuzzlesI love working on puzzles and introduced Kevin to them at the start of all the COVID craziness. He’s doesn’t love them the same way I do but he’s come to enjoy working on a puzzle here or there. Plus, he loves the feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing a puzzle. We usually set one up on our coffee table and work on it throughout the week if we have downtime or on days when we’re watching TV. My dad is a puzzle expert and he says that Ravensburger Puzzles are the best quality in the biz.
3 // Crossword PuzzlesWe subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and have recently started trying to complete the crossword puzzle each day. It’s become a fun challenge that sometimes takes us all week to complete. Usually one of us will start it in the morning and then we’ll pass it back and forth throughout the day. We’ll pick it back up in the evening and try a few together that we couldn’t get individually. I’ve heard crossword puzzles are such a healthy exercise for your brain so it’s something we want to keep going.
4 // Chess or CheckersYou really can’t go wrong with these classic two-player games. Especially now that Chess is back in Vogue [thanks to The Queen’s Gambit], it’s a great time to pick up a board and learn or start playing again. I haven’t played either in years but Kevin’s been dying to learn Chess so I imagine we’ll be jumping on the bandwagon soon.
5 // Detective GamesIf you’re into solving mysteries, you may want to try your hand at a detective game. We have close friends who love Hunt a Killer, a six part murder mystery game. It functions like a subscription and each month you receive a new box with different clues to help you find the killer. Not into the subscription style or price tag? Try the Hunt a Killer one-time board game, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective game or Unsolved Case Files. They’re all similar in that they’re one-time use meaning once you solve it, it can’t really be played again.
6 // Rivals for CatanWe play Settlers of Catan at all our family holidays and gatherings and are big fans. We even have all of the expansion packs, we’re that serious. I actually hadn’t heard of Rivals for Catan until I started doing research for this blog post but supposedly its the same strategy as Settlers of Catan but intended for only two players. Obviously, I want to try this game ASAP and will report back!
7 // Deck of CardsSometimes simple and mindless is exactly what you need. This allows for more quality conversation while you play since you’re less focused on the strategy required. Card games like Speed, Blackjack and War are always fun for a few go arounds. If you really want to get creative, have a custom deck made with funny pictures or happy memories. This could serve as good conversation fodder as well.
8 // Jaipur or Sushi Go!Admittedly, we haven’t tried either but both of these games come highly recommended from a close friend and board game aficionado. Similar to Monopoly Deal, Sushi Go! is a strategy game and intended to be quick. A single game can be played in under 15 minutes. Jaipur is strictly a two-player game so you know you’re not losing any competitiveness by playing with just two people.
9 // Scrabble or BananagramsIf you’re into anagram games, Scrabble or Bananagrams are both great two-player options. It might even feel like you’re competing more with yourself than your partner as you work to decipher words from your set of letters. Depending on how much time you have, one game is built for speed while the other can be played leisurely over a few hours.
10 // Mancala or Chinese CheckersI grew up playing Mancala and Chinese Checkers as a kid and they’re mindless and easy to play over conversation.
At the very least, I hope this list inspires you to turn off the screens for a little bit and try something new. I know I’m excited to revisit old favorites and find new ones. Happy gaming, everyone!