But life slowed down a bit, if only for a day, when Makenna wasn't well enough to go to school this morning. So she, Jack and I spent the day at home, in our comfy clothes, safe from the wind and rain that has been here all. day. long.
While the kids were having quiet time, I was going through some stuff and came across something. Something I just had to share. Something that I believe, is the best homemade gift you could ever give, or recieve.
It's a homemade Board game, called "Memory Lane".
Monopoly Game box lid, recovered.
I made this as a Christmas gift for my grandma a few years ago, after seeing it in Family Fun Magazine.
You take an existing game board (I used a Monopoly board) and make it yours by covering it up with paper and then taping it down around all the edges (I used coloured electrical tape).
The squares all around the board represent memorable places. This game was for my Mom's extended family, so all the squares represented places many of us shared memories of. Not necessarily the same memories, but places many of us had in common.
The majority of the people in my mom's family went to Howick Central School (my mom, her 3 siblings and 8 of the 11 grandchildren) so it was a stop on the board. My grandparents camped at Green Acres Famiy Campground in Kincardine for many years and we all spent time there with them, so it was a stop on the board.
Other stops include The Gorrie Ball Park, Gorrie Restaurants, The Howick Fall Fair, "Christmas",
The Howick Community Centre, the Gorrie United Church,
The Neustadt Conservation Area, "Uncle Tom's Cottage".
"Grandma's house" which could have been my grandma, or either of my mom's grandmas, depending on who landed on that space,
The "3 wheeled bicycle years" got a spot on the board, and so did The Beach...
And the local swimming holes - the pool and the dam. I had so many locations specific to Gorrie and Howick Township, because that is where my grandparents have been their entire lives. My mom and her 3 siblings grew up there and 3 of the 4 still live there today. 8 of the 11 grandchildren spent their entire childhoods living in Gorrie, just blocks away from eachother for each of our (at least) 18 years.
Finally, up the middle of the board - my mom's house, each of my uncles' houses, my aunt's house, and my grandparents' house.
Once I had all the spaced on the board (gluestick), I covered the board with Mac-Tac.
This is the underside of the Monopoly board.
As you saw above, also on the board were boxes with Question Marks, titled "Pick a Card". I made up about 20 Family Trivia cards, asking a variety of questions, including "where did Jack and Gwynne (our grandparents) meet?", "Is the person to the left of you right or left handed?", "how many times has Wayne been a Best Man in a wedding?", "What was Greg hospitalized for as a baby?", etc etc etc. I also scanned 3 baby pictures and pasted them onto cards and if you drew that card, you had to "Name That Baby" and their birthdate.
You also saw a "treasure box" space on the board and I got all of the "treasures" at the dollar store. Players had to have one of each treasure before they could win the game. (The full instructions are explained in the above link to the original Family Fun article where I found the idea). I used the original Monopoly playing pieces as the playing pieces for this game.
Now, here's how it works: Players roll the dice and move around the board. They share a memory specific to the spot the land on. They collect treasures and answer Family Trivia questions along the way, making their way all around the board, and finally up to "Jack and Gwynne's House". The first person to arrive there, with all of their treasures, wins.
But, obviously, everyone wins.
When my grandma opened this a few Christmases ago, there was no hesitation from family members - they wanted to play. Males and females, young and old, crowded around the table. We all learned something new about various members of our own family, a family that is already quite close and invlved in eachothers businesses to begin with ;) . My Mom's generation learned a few new things about my generation, and memories we have of various places, and we learned a few things about them too and what they were like "back in the day". Like the time one of our family members lost his false teeth in the lake....and found them again...and put them back in right then and there!!!! None of my generation had ever heard that story before, and one of the spaces on the board reminded one of my mom's siblings about that day when they were teens, more than 20 years ago.
Christmas Day 2007
It was fun playing the "Family Trivia" cards too, to see just how much we knew about each other.
I got the ideas for the family trivia cards largely from a book my grandma had given me when I was younger, all about her, my grandpa, my mom and her siblings. But I also came up with some of the simpler ones just on my own.
This is such and inexpensive, but invaluable gift.
If you don't have an old game board lying around, you can get one quite easily at any Thrift or Secondhand store. You just need some paper and electrical tape to cover the board, and then cover that with Mac-Tac...which by the way, was the hardest part of the whole project. You can get all of that at your local Dollar Store.
I did all the trivia cards and spaces up on the computer and just used clip art for the images. I scanned the 3 baby pictures (my mom, my husband and my cousin) and shrank them to fit. Then I mounted the computer paper onto cardstock and laminated them for durability. Again, you can find the step by step instructions here. Make sure you read past the first page.
Yes, it is time consuming. And thought provoking. But in my opinion, so so worth it. And each year you could make up some new trivia cards, and new baby picture cards to add to it.
I did this with a family theme, but you could do it within a close group of friends that share a lot of memories too. You could use places the majority of you have all been to, especially places some of you have been to together, as spaces around the board. You could do it for a team, especially one that has been together for many years. For a family, you could do it for a large extended family, or just for the people living under your roof. It can be a way to connect with your teenagers and share stories of your own past, and it can be a way to connect across many generations. In fact, the more generations the better, I think.
Make it as a Christmas Gift, a Birthday Gift, An Anniversary Gift, a Thank You Gift or...just because... There are so many possibilities with this game.
THIS is what "Family Game Night" is all about.