Thankful: play. (And a giveaway!)

Chicago Toy & Game Fair

(Heyyyy, if you're just in this for the free stuff, scroll down past my heartfelt story for the giveaway!)  

I'm thankful for a playful spirit, even as I creep toward 30 years old.

At my first-ever soup party last year, 40 people, many of whom were strangers, crammed into my one-bedroom apartment to sample the five soups I'd prepared in a crock-pot smorgasbord, sip wine and mingle. "Elf" played on loop, and the only casualty of the evening was a bowl of Chex Mix knocked over by a kid who was just too excited to play with Emaline.

As the crowd started to filter out, two smaller groups formed, one in the living room, one in the dining room. The living room group sat in a circle, beers in hand, and started passing out cards for Apples to Apples. The rest of us fumbled over the directions for a new game, LOGO, that we'd just torn the cellophane off of. (LOGO, for the record, is a terrible game.)

Back in Kansas City at Christmastime, my sister and I sat cross-legged on the family room floor with the Sorry! board, teaching our mother the rules of each card and ruthlessly knocking each other's little plastic men back to Start until one of us finally claimed victory.

Fast-forward to this summer, when I walked into the beer garden at Village Tap and sat down with my first of many Virtue Red Streak ciders — and five girls I'd never met before — to play a new game called Telestrations, a dry-erase-board cross between Pictionary and that obnoxious elementary-school telephone game you played where the kid at the end got embarrassed because the message they blurted out was nothing like what was said at the beginning.

I can't even draw a stick figure well. I am terrible at this game. But I lost my mind laughing with those complete strangers, which means I loved it. (We'll be swapping LOGO out for Telestrations at this year's soup party; I see no one objecting.)


…And a giveaway

That's also the night I met Mary Kay Russell, a wonderful lady who's encouraging me yet again to get in touch with my inner child. The 10th-annual Chicago Toy & Game Fair is this weekend, Nov. 17 and 18, and I'll be there bright and early Saturday morning for an early blogger preview (sponsored by Bananagrams — how often does anyone get to say that?!) of all the newest and awesome…est…games for the holiday season. Even as my arrested development continues, I know more and more people having kids, so I can't wait to be the cool single friend with the best presents this year.


Great news: I've also got one family pass to give away for the weekend, which means you and your kiddos can get in gratis for Saturday and Sunday! Watch Saturday's yo-yo competition for free…meet board game inventors for free…hell, go to the Pony Royale Princess Party, if that's your thing.

Just leave a comment here with your favorite board-game memory, then post the following tweet to let people know you've entered:

I want to take my family to @ChiTAGFair, and @paigeworthy's making it happens! What's your favorite game?


Get your entry in by 5 p.m. CST on Thursday, Nov. 15 — I'll announce the winner on Twitter and notify you by e-mail that night. Good luck!