fun-n-games

Make Game Night Great Again: Board Games & Cocktail Pairings!

May 4, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

Board games have been a favorite family pastime for nearly a century, purporting to bring parents and children together and teach valuable skills like colors and stuff. But as many families know, what they really do is drive deep, pie-shaped wedges between spouses, create world-conquering rivalries between siblings; and generally scare the bejesus out of the cat. Even on game nights not boiling over with incessant whining and arguing, there’s still the mind-numbing boredom.

And yet, it is our duty as involved parents — nay, as Americans — to subject ourselves and our progeny to these worlds overflowing with candy and ladders and murder weapons and New Jersey real estate.

I’ve found that a little libation makes any activity run more smoothly. Classy folks look to experts for pairings of alcohol with their cheeses, meals, or cigars. You can even find wine to go with Girl Scout cookies. So why not match up cocktails with board games?

board games & cocktail pairings

I polled a bunch of parents to learn their most-hated games. Then I played them all with my kid while I drank a bunch of stuff to see which combos were most fun tolerable. Here are my scientific/strategic/spirited recommendations.
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My Marvelous Superhero Family

March 13, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

So I did some work with Marvel Comics (I ❤️️ typing that!), where I talked about everyday heroes. I nominated my friends the Scheers for Marvel’s #WhoIsYourHero campaign. If you haven’t read it yet, go do that.

As part of the gig, Marvel sent me some cool superhero merch so our family could play dress up, mug for the camera, and display the true essence of our own superheroics. Not content to just pose and shoot, I called upon my mutant design powers (and my family’s patience) and spent some time tinkering in Photoshop and Procreate.

Presenting, my family — as our Marvel Superhero selves.

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Adventurous & headstrong; loves to make a racket and swing hammers around the house. 🔨 JON is… THE MIGHTY THOR!
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My Marvelous Superhero Family

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Hasbro Star Wars Family Game Night: Which Character Are You?

November 16, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

Designer Daddy participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hasbro. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — one of best parts of being a dad is sharing the things I loved as a kid with my son. And with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens looming on the horizon, we’ve had a blast experiencing anything and everything Star Wars-related.

And as if the awesome toys Hasbro sent us recently weren’t enough, they’ve hooked us up again — this time with a box of booty to have our very own Star Wars Family Game Night!

I loved playing board games with my family growing up. We had pretty much every word/trivia/brain-teaser game there was; and I’m sure this contributed significantly to my love of writing. Not to mention my competitive streak.

Game night was always fraught with fun and emotion, and everyone had their role to play. Mom, The Peacekeeper: making sure older brothers were more lenient with the younger; Dad, The Jokester: somehow managing to work a really bad pun into every answer he gave; Littlest Brother, The Ticking Time Bomb: always trying to keep up, rarely able to keep his cool. And then there was me, The Mastermind — masquerading as the mild-mannered big brother, but constantly plotting how to crush my younger siblings when they least expected it. (Cue maniacal laughter)

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As Jon is just 6, we’re still finding our roles when it comes to game night. But we did have a great time playing LOOPIN’ CHEWIE (his favorite of the bunch) with him and a friend. I’ll just post this photo as a review — you can’t fabricate a smile like this:

Hasbro Star Wars Family Game Night Giveaway

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Boys, Boundaries, and Blue Balloons

September 26, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

communicating with your five-year-old

To explain the stress there’s been in the house the last couple of weeks… well, I could, but I need to hold it close and protect it, or at least disguise it in prose. And by it I mean him — our brave, defiant, demanding, turbulent, tender boy.

Limits have been being pushed. Or is it boundaries? Whatever they are, they’ve been pushed. Also, buttons.

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Celebrate World Play-Doh Day!

September 7, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hasbro. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

As I’ve said many times before, one of the best parts of being a dad is getting to relive my favorite things from childhood alongside my son. It happens when I’m introducing a superhero, we’re watching a movie or playing a board game. Even an experience like the first day of kindergarten — telling him about mine, hearing about his. I get such a charge out of seeing things through his eyes.

And few things connect the generations like Play-Doh. Next to drawing, sculpting things from Play-Doh was my favorite form of creative expression as a tyke. And that seems to be pretty universal — every kid (and former kid) loves the doughy stuff, whether they end up being an artist or not.

World Play-Doh Day

To celebrate this universally awesome toy/craft/pastime/plaything, Hasbro has created something extra special for World Play-Doh Day on September 16. They’ll be hosting a virtual “parade” on their Facebook page, featuring sculpts showing the theme of national pride!

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5 Rebooted TV Shows to Share With Your Kids

June 30, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

One of my favorite things about being a dad is sharing my passions with my son. Whether it’s a certain song, a board game, favorite holiday or superhero, I never tire of re-experiencing these things together — and through his eyes, for the first time.

This is also true with the TV shows and movies I grew up on. Yet some of the shows and films I loved might not yet translate to a 5-year-old’s mind or patience level; or perhaps they didn’t age well; or they’re just plain impossible to find.

But as the saying goes, “Everything old is new again.” (Or was it, “All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again”?) In any event, pretty much anything you were into as a kid (movie, cartoon, comic book, toy, video game, etc.) has been rebooted, rehashed, reconfigured or reborn into a new iteration for you and your kids to enjoy. Here are just a few examples* that our family has found to bridge the generation gap!

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5 Rebooted TV Shows from Your Childhood to Share with Your Kids

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Super Friends
/ Young Justice

Super Friends was absolutely my favorite show as a kid. How can you lose with Superman, Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman? Yet as I watch the episodes now, they are as corny as the Wonder Twins’ jumpsuits are an unholy shade of purple. They were fine when my son was little-bity, but today’s kids (at least mine) have much more sophisticated tastes, and Young Justice fits that bill perfectly. It’s like Teen Titans, but with more glowering. Junior versions of the Super Friends/Justice League take on global threats, led by an ultra cool water-sword wielding Aqualad! And don’t worry, the old-timers show up from time-to-time, too.
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How Was Your Day? or To the Sun and Back

May 7, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

how was your day - to the sun and back

Maybe it was the perfect weather — where the last cold evening had passed, but the first sweltering one had yet to arrive. Or perhaps it was the extra hint of eagerness (sweetened with politeness) in his voice. Or was I thinking of my friend, and how he’ll never again be asked, “Daddy, can you come play with me?”

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Quik, Make Me a Superhero!

April 27, 2015 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

Even if you’re a die-hard superhero fan, you’re probably sick of seeing Cap, Iron Man, Hulk & company plastered on everything from soda cartons to car commercials to to every talk show on every network ever. I love me some Avengers, but enough already — I just want to see the movie!

The only person possibly more excited than me is my 5-year-old. While he won’t be seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron until Daddy and Papa have had a chance to screen it, he knows he’ll get to eventually, and is certainly enjoying watching the trailers, as well as incorporating his favorite super team more frequently into make-believe play.

Speaking of make-believe play, Nesquik is one of the few products that’s making their Avengers promotion fun and interactive — not just slapping a photo of Thor on some chocolate milk — though that does seem to make it taste yummier…

nestle avengers

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DooDad of the Day: 4 New Back-to-School Apps

September 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS MY KID DIGS

4 new apps for kids - Designer Daddy

Unless you live in a cave — and even some caves have decent Wi-Fi — your kids will very likely get hooked on video games. Just accept the fact that your phone and tablet will never, ever be smudge-free again. Here are a few new apps to educate, entertain and occupy the wee ones in your family. I’m calling these “back-to-school apps,” but they could just as easily be called “prep-for-school” or just “not-annoying-or-violent” apps.

And unless noted, none of these include in-app purchases, and all are ad-free. Also, not a single SpongeBob. Apps tested by me and and my expert panel of one 4-and-a-half-year-old.

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Designer Daddy apps - Cookie Monster's Challenge

COOKIE MONSTER’S CHALLENGE

This deliciously fun app is the first mobile team-up between kiddie powerhouses PBS Kids and Sesame Street. It launches just in time for Sesame Street’s 45th (!) season, which premiers September 15 on PBS Kids (check your local listings).

While the graphics and interface are clean and simple (as they should be), don’t be fooled into thinking this is a simple — or short — activity. In fact it’s pretty elaborate. Epic, even. There are 10 mini games that focus on skills vital to the pre-k crowd – like memory, following directions and self control. There are 9 levels, each one ever-so-slightly more challenging to keep your little ones on their adorable toes. The final payoff is a Rube Goldberg-esque cookie-making contraption that requires completion of all 9 levels for Cookie Monster to finally get his cookies. I’m not sure how he survives the anticipation!

But Cookie keeps his composure, as did my son… completing each level, finishing each piece of the cookie machine, and feeling pretty darn excited with each accomplishment.

C is for cookie, but we give Cookie Monster’s Challenge an A.

Preview / buy on iTunes  •  Ages 3-5    iPad only    $2.99

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Beware the Blark-Blark!

May 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Somehow I was able to convince Jon not to play outside after preschool yesterday. Both our allergies were killing us, and given the chance, he’d keep rolling around in the pollen-covered grass until his eyes swelled shut. I instead agreed to play Power Rangers upstairs after dinner. When we finished eating, I hauled my tired butt upstairs to our bedroom (AKA, Jon’s Playroom Annex), and fell to with the Power Rangers play.

I’m admittedly a longtime hater of Power Rangers, whether they’re Mighty Morphin’, Mega Forcin’, or Samurai Warriorin’. But if you’re going to play make-believe, the Rangers and their enemies make for some great inspiration. String together any number of nonsensical words, and you’ve got yourself a weapon, costume upgrade or villain that will fit seamlessly into the established vernacular of the never-ending series.

Case in point, meet Blark-Blark! A creature I made up on the fly, accessorized only by a pair of oven mitts. I’m not really sure of his origin, but his powers include stomping around yelling “BLARK-BLARK!”, shooting Blark missiles at random times/angles and of course, tickling.

blark blark - power rangers - dad

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And here’s Baby Blark-Blark. While his stomping may not be as loud or his tickling as effective, his Blark missiles are infinitely more deadly than his father’s, as they are infinitely more random in their aim and trajectory. Sometimes they don’t even come off, yet are still delivered with a forceful Baby Blark-Blark hand inside it.

blark blark - power rangers - jon

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What’s your child’s favorite form of make-believe play? Feel free to share your own creative ideas, as I’m always looking for more!

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