About Ashley

Ashley is very happily married and the mother to a beautiful little girl and handsome little boy. She is the main voice behind Embracing Homemaking.

Ways to Make Your Gift More Personal

The gifts we give are rare opportunities to remind our loved ones just how much we care for them. Ideally every gift should be unique and thoughtful so that the recipient feels loved. The way to make a gift memorable is to make it personal.

Personalized gifts have become exceedingly popular and are easily available for every occasion and budget. From personalize mugs to notebooks, photo frames to pillows – every gift item can be uniquely customized for the recipient, which is why they are called personal gifts.

Often a handmade personal gift is much more meaningful than any random expensive item from the store shelf. Personalized gifts are the perfect presents to make your loved ones feel special on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, farewells and even in most ordinary moments.

Here are some valuable tips to make your gift more personal, and thus more treasured.

 

Baking Accessories

1. Choose a gift related to their hobbies and interests

Think about what this person enjoys the most, something that is close to their heart. Try a gift that connects with their interest, like baking accessories for a budding pastry chef, bookworm gifts for a reader, photography kit for a photography enthusiast, or funny hobby related t shirt.

 

Personalized Mugs

2. Personalize your gift

Choose to engrave, embroider or emboss your gift with the name of the recipient or some memorable text. Personalized mugs in Australia, bottle openers, coasters, jewelry, whiskey barrels, and T-shirts — there are options galore for personalized items that fit the personality and interests of the recipient.

 

3. Bring back a shared memory through your gift

Center your gift on good old memories from your shared past, like a trip back to your honeymoon suite, or a shared guilty pleasure from college days. Recreate the experience to make your gift memorable.

 

4. Gift an experience

An experience is memorable. Take your loved one to a show, a lighthouse tour, hot air balloon tour, a hiking trip, a visit to a national park or monument. Put your heart into the gift. No matter how much or how less the experience you create costs, the receiver will remember it for sure.

 

5. Handcraft your own DIY gift

Everyone’s into DIY these days. Whip up mouth-watering dessert, sumptuous home cooked meal, or baked goodies as DIY special gifts for the special person. Let your creativity flow with DIY t-shirts, wall decor, coffee mugs, candles, coasters, planters, etc.  There are so many DIY gifts you can make at home, for instance, sugar scrubs, bath salts, homemade salt blends, and homemade candles just to name a few. Your gift might be less than perfect, but it will have your hard work and thoughtfulness, it will definitely be very personal.

 

6. Put together a gift basket with a cohesive collection of things they like

You can create a digital music gift basket for a music lover, containing iTunes gift card along with some physical music accessories for a real experience of music.

 

7. Curate a physical photo album

Create some great memories by transforming both your own and their digital photos into a printed album.

You can apply these ideas to personalize gift items for anyone for any occasion. It will not only save you trouble of finding that elusive “perfect” gift, but also ensure that the recipient thoroughly enjoys every item that has been thoughtfully picked for them.

3 Unique Ways to Create Your Own Style

Tired of opening your closet to see the same style, hanger after hanger? Then it’s high time to make some changes.

Now, you don’t have to completely overhaul your wardrobe to make it a reality, as that would take a small fortune done all at once. Besides, developing a new style isn’t something you want to take lightly — and it likely won’t and shouldn’t happen overnight. Otherwise, you might still end up unsatisfied after spending a lot of money.

Still, you can take small but important steps to discover and create a style that’s uniquely yours. Here are tips to get you started.

1. Find Your Inspiration or “Fashion Voice”

Taking steps toward creating your own unique style can be more contemplative and research-oriented compared to actively shopping for something. Indeed, most people don’t generally find their fashion sense while walking around department stores. Instead, it often occurs organically, influenced by factors like your environment, co-workers or classmates, friends or neighbors, musicians or actors, or influencers on social media.

You might even seek out a bona fide fashion icon from a list as diverse as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn or Josephine Baker. Pay attention to any appealing themes associated with the styles and items from your muse or muses and try to slowly add pieces to your wardrobe to see if they’re a good fit — literally, financially and aesthetically.

2. Visit Local Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops

Many a fashion sense was born in the aisles of local thrift stores or consignment shops. As you journey onward to create a style unique to you, the great thing about visiting these types of shops is knowing you can take fashion risks without spending much at all.

While people often donate clothing once they find it no longer useful, these pieces are often in good enough condition for someone else to wear. But you’ll want to stay tenacious, determined and vigilant, as nearly 20 percent of Americans shop at a thrift shop each year. Fortunately, most thrift stores receive donations rather frequently, meaning there are always new duds to be found on the racks.

When visiting consignment shops, you might pay a little more than you would at a thrift store, but you’ll always pay less than the original retail price. Even better, if you visit these stores on a consistent basis, you can quickly gain a sense of when new inventory will arrive. Plus, if someone shares your fashion sense and regularly puts their items up for sale at your favorite shop, you can slowly build your own style from a steady and affordable source.

3. Add New, Unique Pieces to Create Strong Foundations and Accents

Sometimes your new personal style will start from your foundational garments up. It’s a great place to start, and these items are frequently versatile enough to become part of your outfit by design and intention. In particular, bodysuits are a prime example of intimate wear that perfectly suits outfits with your favorite legwear, like shorts, skirts, pants, jeans, overalls and capris. You can easily wear your favorite bodysuit with a sweater, shrug, blazer, jacket, or on its own when it’s warmer. Conversely, you can wear them casually for a barbecue with friends and family or something more formal like a romantic dinner with your partner.

Creating Your Own Style is Fun and Simple with the Right Approach

If you’re thinking about creating your own unique style, chances are you already have an idea or two in mind — and, hopefully, these ideas will help refine the process. So, start finding your inspiration, adding foundational garments with a special flair, and spending time at your local thrift stores and consignment shops and you’ll find you’re well on your way toward developing a style that you and everyone else will love.

The Amazing Benefits of Family Game Night

Family is the most important part of life. Family allows you to have a connection with a group of people who love you without conditions, they provide you relief during a time of sorrow and encouragement during times of need. The family will be one of the most important connections you ever have in your lifetime.  Since I feel the family unit is extremely important, especially during times of high stress and self-doubt, I wanted to share some of the amazing benefits of family game night. Playing games with your family is another way to connect with those you hold closest to your heart.  After you check out the benefits of a having a night set aside for games, you can go here and see our family’s favorite board games.  This post contains affiliate links.

The Amazing Benefits of Family Game Night

Creates Conversation

Sometimes we get so involved with our daily life tasks that conversation doesn’t happen between family members or perhaps it’s boring. Family game night will create new conversations and engagement between every family member.  I love seeing how different people approach problems and use a variety of strategies for solving them.  My husband and I think differently and because of that we make a really good team.  Not only is discussing strategy fun but just chatting about life as we play games is invaluable.  I cherish these moments with my family.

Strengthens Bond

Hosting a family game night with your household helps strengthen the bond as you work to enjoy some healthy competition by playing board games together. When you do things together it strengthens your relationship.  Games are an easy and fun way to do that.

Pandemic

Builds Teamwork

There are many team player games that your family can enjoy together on game night. When you opt to include team player games, your family will learn how to work together. This will help build your family member’s teamwork skills for use in other areas of life.  Cooperative games are so much fun too!  We’ve recently (well at Christmas) tried out our first cooperative family game, Pandemic, and we have played it almost every day since.  I think we may have skipped maybe two or three days where we didn’t play it but we usually play it AT LEAST once a day.  We’re addicted.  It’s so much fun and so challenging.

Reduces Stress

Having fun and laughing with your family can reduce stress and anxiety. Hosting a regularly scheduled family game night encourages your family to have fun, laugh and enjoy the moment. This can reduce your stress levels and encourage a happier home.  We generally play a game every night at dinner.  It helps us wind down at the end of the day and gets us all on the same page.  We can chat, laugh, and strategize together before bed.

Enhances Reading Skills

Many family board games require reading which helps enhance reading skills for every family member. Have your younger kids try to read their game cards so that they’re working on important reading skills all the while having fun with their family during family game night.

These are just some of the most amazing benefits of family game night. I know that there are plenty more benefits that you’ll experience when you start hosting a regularly scheduled family game night at your house. I hope that you’ll use this information to start hosting more family game nights with your household members soon.

What are the Most Important Features of a Living Room?

Your living room should be your sanctuary – a place away from your bedroom where you can relax at any time. This is why some individuals find it rather difficult to decide how to decorate their living room, as it is generally the first room to make an impression on guests. People also want to make sure that the space is comfortable to relax in, and that it will suit all emotions and occasions.

There are many different features to ponder over when renovating your living room. Keep reading to find out three of the most important features of any living space.

Flooring

One of the first aspects of your living room that makes a lasting impression is the flooring. Long gone are the days of colorful and funky carpets – family homes across the globe have opted to use different types of flooring. Some flooring types include wood flooring, laminate and engineered wood, and they all offer their own benefits to homeowners. Check out this wood flooring supplier for more information.

The options of flooring seem endless, so when making your choice on what to go for, it’s useful to consider the demand you will place on them. For example, for your living room, it might be a great idea to go for a slightly more expensive flooring type than your bathroom or kitchen. This is because different flooring types are made to endure different conditions. With that being said, do some research and take time to decide which floor is best for your living area.

Color Scheme

Another thing that your guests will notice immediately as they enter your living room is that of the color scheme. It can truly make a huge difference to the feel of the room and set the tone for the conversation.

The shades you choose can also build character and even create a clean appearance for the whole room. If you don’t get much natural light, interior experts recommend that you opt for lighter colors to brighten up the place. If you do get natural light, you can afford some darker colors. However, it is important to remember that your furniture is less likely to be consistently changed compared to decor. Therefore, you should consider keeping furniture natural and adding new colors and tones as you go.

Wall Decor

On the topic of room decor, another important feature that truly makes a difference is that of wall decoration. This can be in the form of wallpaper, art features and wall furniture. For instance, family photos and family artwork make all the difference to the feeling of the room and can be a great feature for family spaces. Interior designers also love the idea of feature walls as this can be regularly changed to suit your furniture.

Make a lasting impression for your guests and family by considering these important features for your living space.

5 Things I’ve Loved in January

I think it goes without saying that we could all use a little extra happy these days.  I could make a list of all the negative things that have happened to make this point but instead I’ll jump right into this list of 5 things I’ve loved in January.  These are things that have made me happy this month…and that will hopefully be an encouragement for you to do something nice for yourself too.  This post contains affiliate links.

Berkshire Blanket

  • 1.  I love soft blankets and this extra-fluffy one from Berkshire Blankets is by far the softest thing I’ve ever felt.  The color is lovely, it feels utterly luxurious, and is very affordable.  I bought one for myself because it was on sale and loved it so much that I bought several as gifts.  You can check them out on the Berkshire Blanket website or on Amazon.

 

 

Nail Files

  • 2. My friend Melissa from Outnumbered 3 to 1,  sent me a set of these nail files for Christmas and I love them.  Glass nail files so much nicer than emery boards and the carrying case makes them nice to take along with you anywhere.  You can find this set here on Amazon for around the cost of a cup of coffee.

 

 

Sunglasses

  • 3. Finding a good pair of sunglasses can be challenging but I’ve had good luck with some affordable pairs on Amazon that I was given by the brand.  Most were less than $10 and a few are even two pairs for $10.  I love this price point because I won’t get too upset if they get scratched or I accidentally lose them in a friend’s field (I’m still mourning the loss of a pair that met their end that way).  I love the variety and my daughter has already snatched a few pairs and my husband is loving the polarized pair.  I find myself switching most often between the aviator sunglasses and the rimless animal print ones.  They can also make a great Valentine’s Day gift, and are perfect for midwinter break travels.  You can check them out on Amazon.

 

 

Homemade Candle

  • 4. I love candles, love them!  However, after learning about how many of the store bought ones release toxins I decided to make my own.  I was intimidated to start but once I did I found that it was unbelievably easy and relaxing to make.  There are many kits available on Amazon if you’re looking to make your own.

 

 

Sun Light for SAD

  • 5. Last but not least, is this little magical light that I bought myself for Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It boosts your mood and makes you feel like you’ve been sitting in the sunlight for a spell.  It’s on sale now on Amazon for a good bit less than I paid so if you’ve been wanting to give one a try, now is the time.

There you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the 5 things I’ve loved in January and more importantly, that you’ll take some time aside this week and do something that’s just for you, for your mental well being.

4 Ways to Find Time For Yourself Once You Have Kids

Between planning meals, cleaning, and homeschooling, life with kids can be pretty overwhelming. And since the coronavirus pandemic began, having the house to yourself has become a rare luxury.  Being able to find time for yourself is harder now than ever.

Although kids can make it feel like an impossible feat, a little space can bring you the stress relief you deserve (and need!). While we know how much you love those rugrats, we’ve compiled a list of four tips to help you create your much-needed “me time.”

Mom Time

#1 Pencil Yourself In
Our schedules fill up quickly, and soon they become so hectic that we’re unable to plan things even weeks in advance. When you can’t find time for yourself, sometimes you need to make time for yourself without the kids. Take a look at your calendar and see if there’s a weekend (or even just an evening) that their grandparents or a babysitter could watch them.

Frequently scheduling short intervals of alone time can also help you recharge and feel less burned out. Set your kids up with some activities so that they can entertain themselves for a bit while you get time to do your own thing.

#2 Maximize Down Time
There are no days off as a mom. So when you finally get the house to yourself, you might be tempted to check more things off your endless to-do list or catch up on some housework. Instead, start using this time to focus on yourself and indulge in the things you don’t get to do with the kids around.

Here are some simple ways you could treat yourself:

  • – Check out that new show you’ve been dying to watch.
  • – Practice centering yourself with this mindfulness journal that gives you prompts (so you don’t have to do all the thinking for a change!)
  • – Indulge in a tasty snack or dessert.
  • – With all the hard work that goes into being a mom, it’s important to take time to reward yourself every now and again.

#3 Make Use of Bedtime
Depending on how old your kids are, once they go to sleep you’ll usually have a little extra time in the day before it’s your bedtime. You might normally spend your evenings getting ready for the next day, but they’re a great opportunity to unwind if you can effectively manage your time.

When you’re finally ready for bed, fall asleep faster with these powerful CBD gummies. They’ll also help you wake up feeling more energized.

#4 Pursue a Hobby
When you’re always on the go, it’s difficult to declutter your mind and just do something fun for a change.

Try taking up a new hobby or getting back into something you used to enjoy. Not only are hobbies fun, but they also have proven benefits for your health and well-being. Dedicate some time each day to doing something for you, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

If you’re not sure where to begin, try out one of these activities:

  • – Crochet – You could learn how to make your own winter hats, blankets, or anything else you set your mind to. This crochet starter kit has everything you need to begin your first project. Let your creativity drive you!
  • – Read – Discover a good book and get lost in another world for a while.
  • – Draw – Get out a piece of paper and a pen and try doodling. You don’t have to be an artist to have fun with it.
  • – Do a Puzzle – Try this positivity puzzle and let your mind wander while the pieces come together before your eyes.

Keep trying new things until you find a hobby you love. There’s something out there for everyone!

Make the Most of Your Time
No matter how busy your kids keep you, it’s important to take time alone so that you can recharge. Take advantage of the rare opportunities for alone time when they present themselves, but also make sure to schedule it in when you need a breather.

Family Time

With these four tips, you’ll not only start making more time for yourself, but you’ll also be able to use that time in the way that’s best for you.

Amazon Book Coupon – Save $5 Off Of $20

This post contains affiliate links.
Book Coupon

My favorite coupon is back, the Amazon Book Coupon!!  It will save you $5 off a $20 book purchase.

This is a great coupon any day but it’s especially nice now because there are already so many great books already marked down on Amazon.  For full details on this promotion click here.

Last week, Amazon hosted a buy 3 books for the price of 2 sale (which is sadly over) and I scoured their list of included books for my favorite books.  These are books that I either personally own, have read and loved, have bought for others because I enjoyed it so, or they’re on my book wish list.  The list covers both children and adult books.  Even though that sale is over, if you’d like to view that list you can see that by clicking here.

Speaking of lists on Amazon, you can find my Open Ended Toy Play List here.

 

Charlotte Mason Quotes + Free Printable

This post contains affiliate links.

An Observant Child Charlotte Mason Quote

Charlotte Mason is one of my educational heroes.  I love learning so much as I’m slowly making my way through her volumes.  You can check them out Charlotte Mason’s volumes here on Amazon.  We all need a little motivation from time to time and Charlotte Mason always rejuvenates me.  She was quite an inspiring lady who was far ahead of her time!  I’ve been collecting several great Charlotte Mason quotes from her as I’m going through them and this one especially stuck out to me.  I knew I wanted it to be in my homeschool room so I made this printable.  I’m sharing it here today in case anyone else would like to have this sweet reminder in their home too.  I know the pumpkins are a little out of season (I made this in the fall) but I think I’ll keep mine up year round…till I decide to replace it with my next Charlotte Mason quote.

May we all put our children in the way of things worth observing.

You can click the link below to download this pdf.

An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing.” -Charlotte Mason

Here are some other of my favorite Charlotte Mason Quotes that I’ve come across so far.

 

“Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend…”-Charlotte Mason

That one is convicting, isn’t it?

 

“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.” -Charlotte Mason

Also convicting but it simultaneously motivates me to step it up.

 

“Our aim in education is to give a full life. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking – the strain would be too great – but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest.” -Charlotte Mason

Life should be all living.  I think of this quote just about daily.

 

“Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.” -Charlotte Mason

I do love this one too!

 

“The question is not, — how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education — but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” -Charlotte Mason

How large is the room?  I love it!!  What a great view of education.

 

“The most common and the monstrous defect in the education of the day is that children fail to acquire the habit of reading.” -Charlotte Mason

Yes!  It’s a great habit that is worth the investment.

Homeschool Physical Education Ideas

There are so many ways to sneak physical education into your homeschool day. Whether you’re looking to get super active or have low impact physical activity, these 5 homeschool physical education ideas will get the kids out and active before you know it. Each of these ideas will help you satisfy the phys. ed. part of your homeschool curriculum.  This post contains affiliate links.

Homeschool Physical Education Ideas

Homeschool Physical Education Ideas

Nature Journal

– Hiking

Get outdoors and go on a hike with your kids for homeschool phys. ed. There are many hiking trails all over the states for your kids to enjoy. There’s a bonus with this physical education option, your kids can do some nature journaling while out on the hiking trails too.  CamelBak Mini Mule Kids Hydration Backpacks are great to keep kids hydrated while on the trail.

– Swimming

If you don’t own a swimming pool, have no worries, you can easily sneak some swimming in for your homeschool physical education by going to the community pool, a local river, or pond. These options for swimming will provide your kids with some fun too.  (Check out our Puddle Jumper review if you have young kids)

– Old School Games

Teach your kids to enjoy some of your old school outdoor games like four square, capture the flag or kick the can. This is a fun way to give your kids some knowledge of how you enjoyed physical education as a child all the while helping them get their homeschool phys. ed. completed.

– Obstacle Course

Have your kids build their own indoor or outdoor obstacle course. This is a great way to promote creative thinking and problem-solving skills all the while giving your kids a way to get their homeschool physical education completed during your homeschooling days.  Our favorite go-to obstacle courses usually include a balance beam, walking down a wedge ramp, crawling through a tunnel, walking across stepping stones, climbing up our Nugget couch tower, and jumping into a pile of bean bags and pillows.

– Workout DVDs

Lastly, if all else fails and it’s too rainy or gloomy to do any of the above homeschool physical education ideas, you can pull out the workout DVDs. Have your kids do a daily workout to get active and in shape during their homeschool day with their favorite workout DVDs.  If you don’t have any DVDs YouTube has a ton of workout ideas for kids.  There’s even adults breaking a sweat dancing to Frozen songs.

Finding unique ways to create and plan your homeschool phys. ed. curriculum is one of the best parts of being a parent who teaches their kids. These ideas will come in handy when you’re at a loss as to what to do for physical education during your homeschool week. There are many ways you can work to develop a homeschool phys. ed. curriculum. This is quite honestly one of the easier parts of homeschooling your kid because we all know how to get up, get active, and have fun!

 

Really Fun Family Games

Really Fun Family Games

My family loves family games, we love them!!  We usually play a game every free evening we have, we play games in between church on Sunday, and the kids and I usually play a game while we eat breakfast and lunch.  Because I have researched and tried out many, many games I thought it would be fun to share my favorite ones with you.  I hope you enjoy our list of really fun family games!  This post contains my affiliate links.

My kids are currently ages 6 & 8 years old but many of these games are great for adults alone.  These are games meant to be enjoyed by the whole family, not just endured by the adults.  There are many examples of those types of games that I could list but I’m sure you can think of those on your own. On the other hand, these games here will keep your mind thinking, have the kids problem solving, and doing math without realizing it.  There are so many benefits to family games but we can save that for another post.  Now, onto the list!

(These aren’t listed in any particular order)

Half Truth Game

  • –  Half Truth – This game just came in the mail this week and already it is a favorite of adults and kids alike.  It’s a trivia game created by Ken Jennings (yes, that one) and Richard Garfield (legendary game designer).  It’s touted as “The party game that makes you feel smart!”  I can’t say that happened for me, who’s awful at trivia, but it was very fun!  With the way it’s set up you can still win without knowing aaaalll. the. things.  Even I won once!  It’s very fun and promotes good conversation.  Here’s the link to the Half Truth Kickstarter program where you can find more information.
  • Lattice Hawaii
  • –  Lattice Hawaii – This is a game of strategy that is easy to learn and exciting to play.  Our children picked up on it very quickly and my son (we play as a team) often notices things that I’ve missed.  The beautiful acrylic stone pieces were a big hit with my kids.  This game is for 2-4 players (or teams if you want to play teams) but if you want to include even more people you can just buy a second board and lay them beside each other.  You can play on both boards!  How fun would that be?  This game is boasts that it takes “3 minutes to learn, 20 minutes to play, a lifetime to master.”  It received the 2019 Game of the Year Award.  I bet you’ll like it if you give it a try.  You can buy this game on Amazon here.
  • Sorry! Game
  • –  Sorry! – Yes, this is an old game. A classic game.  It’s okay as it is but hear me out, there is an alternate team version in the directions and it is a game changer!  Two colors play against two other colors.  When it’s your turn you can either move your own color or your teammates color depending on which move is more advantageous.  It adds strategy to the game and makes it so much better.  Sorry is a great game for little ones to work on their counting skills.  There are so many new versions of Sorry! and I haven’t loved them near as much as this classic team version.  I’m sure you have this game at home so give it a try.  If not, it’s available here on Amazon.
  • PayDay Game
  • –  Pay Day – This is also an oldie but goodie!  While it does teach that debt is good (sorry, Dave Ramsey!) it does make kids add and subtract large numbers.  Plus, you can also use it to teach kids how to count money back to someone.  It’s a game our whole family loves.  It’s mostly the luck of the dice along with some decisions that could sway the game.  It’s a keeper!  I have the version my parents owned but I recently gifted a newer version and it’s very very similar.  I’m thankful that they didn’t update it like some other games have done.  If you don’t already own it you can check out both versions on Amazon.  Here’s the retro version and the newer version.
  • Enchanted Forest
  • –  Enchanted Forest – This is an enchanting (ha!) little game.  It’s a game of memory with a little strategy thrown in for good measure.  It’s recommended for ages 4-10 but I tell you it is challenging for adults to remember what the kids easily can.  It’s a family favorite of ours.  You can check out more details here on Amazon.
  • No Stress Chess
  • –  No Stress Chess – This game not only teaches kids chess in a no stress way but it makes it fun for experienced players to play with beginner players without having to let the learner win.  It begins as a card based game, everyone draws a card on their turn and finds a piece to make that move.  This keeps experienced players handicapped and teaches beginners how to move.  After that you can play with a hand of cards while the experienced player keeps drawing cards.  Eventually you can progress to moving any piece you want while the experienced player still draws or has a hand of cards.  It’s one of our favorites!  You can find it here on Amazon for under $15 right now. (Prices always change so double check before checking out.)
  • Ticket to Ride First Journey
  • –  Ticket to Ride First Journey – This is based on the award winning game, Ticket to Ride.  2-4 players use cards to help make their way across America.  My kids have learned about different destinations and have enjoyed forming different strategies to win.  You’re supposed to hold your cards up to keep others from seeing but when we started this a year ago we played for many months with them down while helping each other make their best path possible.  (Forgive the bad pictures.  We often play games in our basement and it’s dark and decorated in 70’s decor. 🙂  Also, I’m realizing while taking these pictures that I play most games upside down.  How did that happen? lol)  You can also find this game on Amazon too.
  • Quixx
  • –  Quixx – This is the game my family plays probably ten times a day.  To put it mildly, it is a really fun family game!  We’ve been on a Quixx kick for about a month and it’s still going strong.  We ran through the cards that came with the box and started laminating them and using wet erase markers to keep score.  This is so fun!  It’s a dice game that has two white dice and four colored dice.  It’s simple to play but has just the right balance of strategy and luck to make it a game you can play over and over again.  I started playing on a team with my 5 year old, who is now 6 and after a few months he can play on his own.  This game has helped both of my kids’ addition skills…and my son’s handwriting as he writes his name at the top of the board every game we play.  Oh and this is the game that we play during meals because we don’t have to worry about food damaging the game and we can go at a slower pace.  You can find this game on Amazon here.  Quixx also has a dry erase version on Amazon here.
  • Dominoes Mexican Train
  • –  Dominoes – Dominoes always seemed like a so-so game to me but once my husband introduced me to Mexican Train I was hooked.  Click here to see the set I have.  It’s a double 12 set and comes with the starter and little trains. I’ve seen other folks’ dominoes since we bought ours and I have to say that I like ours best.  It’s a good size, the pips are large and have bright colors, and the dominoes are smooth and have a good weight to them.  If you already have a set of dominoes, this add-on train set is cheap and is fancy…like the metal pieces on monopoly games.  Plus it comes with the middle piece (train station? hub?) and with a score pad.  We’ve played this so much that my husband created a google sheets scoresheet complete with graphs.  I love him and his nerdery!  You or your kids might also enjoy a dominoes tray so you don’t keep on accidentally knocking down your train and showing your cards, so to speak.  I think I’ll add a few sets of those to our Christmas wish list.
  • Otrio
  • –  Otrio – This is such a fun game for kids of all ages.  We’ve given these out as gifts to numerous people.  It’s basically an advanced tic tac toe where you can win multiple ways.  Three of a kind, three in a row in ascending or descending order.  We bought this three years ago when my son was three and he’s always played with us.  To begin with he would just move a piece randomly and throw off our strategy and occasionally luck into winning but now that he’s six he has grasped the strategy and can outwit some adults.  This is a bit more pricier than some of the games I’ve recommended but it’s well made.  The wood base is thick and the pieces are thick plastic.  You can check out the set here on Amazon.
  • Sleeping Queens
  • –  Sleeping Queens – This is a very cute game, well thought out by it’s child creators.  My kids love it and could play it endlessly but it’s one that I’m done after a few games….but that’s not to say it isn’t worth owning.  It helps the kids with their addition skills because you could play one card at a time or if you have, say a 3, a 4, and a 7 you can play them all because 3+4=7.  I can’t say enough about how cute it is.  The illustrations are great and even though we’ve owned the game for 6 months, we’re still noticing new things on the cards that we didn’t before.  You can buy out Sleeping Queens on Amazon.
  • Catan Junior
  • Catan Junior – This is a great junior version of the popular game Catan.  The picture I pulled from Amazon doesn’t accurately show how lovely this game is.  The die is a pearly, shimmery light blue and the colors of the boats and lairs are truly nice unique game colors (like a rich navy and an ivory).  This is a game we can all enjoy as a family.  There’s strategy in attaining the materials you need and you can kind of even form an alliance with another player to help further your chances of victory.  You can check it out more details on Amazon.
  • Quirkle
  • –  Qwirkle – This is a tried and true game that many families probably already have or have heard of.  On Amazon it has 5 stars and over 5,000 reviews!  That’s quite impressive.  Both of our kids love this game!  I would say our whole family does but my husband hates losing this game to our kids. 🙂 Just kidding, he’s a good sport!  This game teaches spatial recognition and problem solving.  It’s easy to learn but still challenging.  It’s another one of those games that you can play over and over again!  You can see it here on Amazon.
  • Klask
  • –  Klask – This last game I’ll mention (well for now), isn’t a board game per se and it’s not a small game but it is so fun that you’ll find room for it in your game closet.  Klask is like a simple game of hockey but it’s played with magnetic pieces that you operate under the table while trying to knock the ball into your goal.  I’m pleased to tell you that while looking up this game on Amazon I’ve found that the price has significantly decreased (yay!) and they now also have a 4 person game.  Nice!  Now I have another item to add to my Christmas wish list!  We’ve also given this game as a gift before.  Which makes me realize that we give games as gifts quite a lot. 🙂  You can check out the two player game here and the four player game here.

There you have it, that’s the list of our favorite really fun family games.  We have a few other dozen that we like but there are our top games that we keep coming back to.  Maybe one day I’ll make a list of those other games too.  If you have a game that your family enjoys I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

I can’t leave without recommending two games that are on my wish list.  I’ve heard such good things about them that I can’t wait to order them to play with my family.

Pandemic

The first is Pandemic, and yes, given the nature of the Coronavirus circulating now, it makes me want to hold off on getting it at the moment….or maybe it should be a reason to get it.  I haven’t made up my mind on that yet.  You can read all about it here on Amazon.

Trekking the National Parks

The second game on my to-buy list is Trekking the National Parks.  It’s not only has over a thousand good reviews on Amazon but is the winner of the MENSA and PARENT’S CHOICE AWARD.  The makers of this game recently started a Kickstarter to fund their next game, Trekking the World.  I can’t wait to try both of these games.  Any game that combines geography and is fun to play is a winner in my book!