5 Top Family Games to Play

Monopoly - Try the Lisbon version

Monopoly – Try the Lisbon version

This winter huddled by the log fire in Central Portugal with rain pelting down on the hills and windmills outside, we’ve brought out the games.  By games I mean good old board games. Here are a selection we’ve enjoyed most that are suitable for all the family from age 8 upwards chosen from the mountain of board games in our cupboard.  It was difficult to choose just five from the traditional favourites such as Chess, Draughts, Ludo, Snakes and Ladders and Scrabble but the ones picked out below are those that we all enjoy.  So I urge you, bribe the children with marshmallows and hot chocolate, get them off the computer and gather in front of the heater.  Unless you’re in Australia in which case a shady spot in the garden.

In no particular order…

1.  ‘Monopoly’.  Yep, no surprises there.  We have the London version but Jae has also played the Lisbon version at school.  For the very few of you on the planet that haven’t come across Monopoly, it’s a game for 2-4 players.  The aim of the game is to, well, make the most money by buying up property, building houses and hotels and collecting rent.  Takes from around 45 minutes to 2 hours.  We became fairly addicted to this game in the summer, see Take a £10 Fine or Take a Chance!


2.  ‘Articulate’.  This is definitely for older children but you can relax the rules for younger ones and pick out questions they can do.  You need at least four to play and an even number of people.  One person on a team describes a word that the other person on the team has to guess.  It can take an hour or two to get round the board but is great fun.  It can also be a good test of how your kids are doing on the educational front and any gaps in their knowledge.  I was shocked, yes shocked, to find out Jae hadn’t seen ‘The Wizard of Oz’ when he couldn’t describe it.  How did that happen?


3. ‘Ingenius’.  This is an easy game to play when you’ve had a busy day as it’s not too taxing on the brain and one that younger children can play too.  Match up the symbols to score points.  Takes about half an hour but you can stretch out the length of the game by using more of the board.  From 2-4 players.  My current favourite, wonder why?


4.  ‘Dr Who’.  Yes of course there’s a game.  There’s also a groovy electronic tardis, daleks and counters representing Dr Who.  You have to collect 6 cards with each card representing different time zones while trying to avoid being caught by the daleks.  The game takes about an hour.

imagesdr who

5.  ‘Jenga’.  This is made up of wooden bricks and wins extra points for being durable enough to hand down a generation or two.  After building the tower out of rectangular wooden bricks each player has to take turns pulling out a brick without any of the tower collapsing. A game that’s easy to pack if you’re off camping.


So if its still raining, snowing or too hot to move, that’s next weekend sorted for everyone!


£10 Fine or Take a Chance.


“Bank error in your favour collect £200”.

“Ha.  As if…”  I took the £200 out of the bank though.

Sunday morning options.  Beach?  Boot fair?  Haven’t been to one in Portugal yet. We have so much stuff we don’t need I could really do with having a stall.  They’re both out this morning though as Zed has taken the car up to the village house in Castelo so we’re stranded.  Swim?  A bit cold, the pool won’t have warmed up yet.  Maybe this afternoon.

I’ve already read the papers with an issue of The Guardian Zed bought back from London on Friday.  I shuddered at the news.  Sometimes I like being out of touch.  News in the papers isn’t necessarily on a ‘need to know’ basis.

My son suggests a ‘Star Wars’ fight.  Racing around the garden and whacking each other with light sabers.  Hmmm.  Not too appealing.  I turn down the offer although I feel slightly guilty, feeling that being a good parent necessitates this interaction.  I hope he remembers the game with warm memories when he grows up and not just mum going “ouch that hurt, you’re supposed to hit the light saber, can we stop now and say you’ve won”.


He suggests Monopoly.  That suits me.  I can sit and play with a cup of coffee looking out at the view.  I should of course paint the house, but maybe later.  Monopoly, on the terrace, under a blue sky, seems a good option.

I can wax lyrical about this game.  I played it throughout my childhood.  I remember playing it one entire weekend when my cousin Sally Ann came to stay during the summer holidays.  We barely got out of our pyjamas.  We were twelve.  Both parents must have been out at work and I’ve no idea where our elder sisters were.  I just remember we were hooked on the game like two gamblers, bringing in plates of biscuits and barely stopping for lunch.

This summer, with the heat reaching forty degrees some days in Castelo Branco, we spent a lot of time indoors.  Out came Monopoly, a game that had belonged to my husband when he was a child, the box now looking slightly worn but the contents having stood the test of time.


My son is having one to one Portuguese lessons at school and having eagerly told his teacher this pastime she has asked him to bring in the game.  I can see why.  Reinforcement of numbers, counting, translating the cards.  Use of the verbs to buy, to want, to win, to lose. I hope she doesn’t mind losing.  After an entire summer playing, he’s got quite canny at the game.  He wants to visit the places on the board so on our next trip to London we’ll be checking out Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street, Kings Cross Station….


I think we should get the Lisbon version.   Maybe that way, I’ll learn some Portuguese.  To visit, to buy, to win, to lose.  Free parking.  Now that’ll come in handy.