Follow us on Twitter or Facebook

Now available

Click image for amazon.com link

FAMILY GAMES FOR THE GREAT RECESSION

The bad times may be over, but the good times aren’t going to return any time soon.

For many of us, that’s troubling. But it can also be inspiring – especially when it comes to finding appropriate ways to spend quality time with family.

Kick The Can(didate)

Family members divide up into two groups: Democrats and Republicans. Democrats try to prevent Republicans from kicking the can, just like in the classic childhood game, but have to put on blinders and argue among themselves, making it very easy for a lone Republican to come out of nowhere and kick the can.

Alternately, family members don’t divide up into Democrats and Republicans at all, but just play as a single group of Democrats who work against each other to both kick the can and prevent the can from being kicked, turning the whole game into an ugly, shameless, ultimately un-winnable waste of time.

Liar’s Dice, The Wall Street Edition

In the traditional game, players roll a handful of dice and then try to lie about how many 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 6’s they have. If one player doesn’t believe another, he or she says “liar.” If the accused is actually lying, he or she loses a die; if the accused is telling the truth, the accuser loses a die.

The game continues until there’s only one player left.

This version is played the exact same way, except that whenever a player lies and loses a die, he or she gets to replace it with one provided by the Treasury Department for as long as the government has adequate dice reserves, or can borrow dice from China.

Tea Party

The point of this game is to pretend to spontaneously gather around an imaginary table drinking imaginary tea from imaginary cups until the media believes it’s real, and then form a grassroots special interest group to force everybody to move to the right.

Duck Duck Goose

Each player pretends to be a homeowner and sits in a circle with the other homeowners. One player – representing a soon-to-reset adjustable rate mortgage, crushing equity line, further decline in housing prices, prolonged period of unemployment or other form of bad luck – walks around and taps each of them on the head, saying “Duck… Duck… Duck…”

This goes on for an inordinately long time, with all the anxious homeowners hoping the bad luck will just go away.

It doesn’t.

When bad luck finally says “goose,” the player he or she just tapped sits there quietly in a complete state of denial, then wanders off leaving an empty spot in the circle.

This goes on for an inordinately long time, too, until even the remaining homeowners are too depressed to continue.

What’s my party line?

Throw a blanket over your TV set and then randomly tune it to Fox News, CNN or MSNBC and see if you can tell what party’s talking points the supposedly non-partisan/independent/”fair and balanced” experts are secretly touting.

I Spy

Just like regular “I Spy,” only with the more apropos subjects: “I Spy, with my little eye, something that begins with F… a foreclosed house.” Or “I Spy, with my little eye, something that begins with O… a one-term president.”

The Telephony Game

Start with any of the promises Banks made when they needed to be bailed out – to take fewer risks, not put profits first, learn from their mistakes, help homeowners modify bad loans, etc. – and play the telephone game to see if any of these phrases end up making any sense at all.

Pin The Tail (Of Blame) On The Donkey

Much like ‘08s most popular game, “Pin The Tail on The Elephant,” this one substitutes a donkey and uses a much, much bigger tail.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Big, Bad Wolf

Players divide into three teams, and then each team builds a house.

The first uses straw, which represents a “no-doc” loan, the second uses wood, which represents a zero-down, adjustable-rate mortgage, and the third uses brick, which represents a 30-year fixed-mortgage with 20% down that will never, ever cause problems.

They then wait for the Big Bad Wolf to huff and puff and try to blow their houses down.

Obama Limbo

How low can President Obama’s approval rating go? Put on “The Limbo Song” and see.

Republican Hokey Pokey

You put your right foot in, and then instead of putting your left foot in, you put your right foot in even farther unless you want the Tea Baggers to knock you over.

Ghost in The Graveyard Shift

Similar to the classic childhood game, except when word gets out you’re playing, 10,000 people show up.

(To see family games from last year, click here.)

HOW TO EXPLAIN THE ECONOMIC CRISIS TO YOUR KIDS

KID: Are you sick?
PARENT: No.
KID: Then why do you look like you’re gonna throw-up?
PARENT: The President is talking about the economic crisis again.
KID: What’s an economic crisis?
PARENT: Well… Basically, it’s when everybody in the country suddenly realizes they’re fucked.
KID: GASP! You said a bad word.
PARENT: I’m sorry.
KID: You’re not supposed to say bad words.
PARENT: You’re right. Even with a situation as bad as this, I shouldn’t swear.
KID: Why is the situation so bad, anyway?
PARENT: The cost of living is going up. Real wages are going down. People’s houses are worth less than they owe on them. Nobody can get credit any more. We can’t seem to find a way to use less energy. And now the experts are saying the very foundation upon which our entire economy is based is cracked at best, and may actually be broken beyond repair.
KID: Wow. We are fucked.
PARENT: Now you said a bad word.
KID: Sorry. Do I have to wash my mouth out with soap now?
PARENT: No, but only because we can’t afford any.

TOO DEPRESSED TO PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS?

Don’t let the credit crisis, the housing slump, gas prices, global warming, the cost of groceries, layoffs or the generally sad state of world affairs stop you from enjoying quality time with your kids.

Instead, let these troubles inspire you with the following games:

Mortgage, Mortgage, Who’s Got The Mortgage?

Kids sit in a circle with their fists closed, pretending to hold a button, which in this case represents a mortgage. As you go around the circle, everybody says “Mortgage, mortgage, who’s got the mortgage?” and then whoever’s turn it is says “Billy has the mortgage.” Billy must then open his fist to show everybody if he has the button/mortgage or not. The joke, of course, is that he doesn’t. In fact, nobody does, because credit is still so tight nobody can get one.

Stock Market Limbo

How low can it go? There’s one way to find out: put on “The Limbo Song” and see if you can make it under without collapsing.

Time Travelers

Take an imaginary trip to the future without leaving home. Just unplug the air conditioner, shut off the water main, and set the thermostat as high as it will go. The first person to pass out from heat stroke loses, the last one standing gets a half-glass of dirty water and a chance to play “An Inconvenient Truth: The Home Edition.”

The Crumbling Infrastructure Game

Just like “London Bridge is Falling Down,” only substitute something local.

U.N. Election Monitor

Help ensure the spread of democracy with this variation on “Kick The Can.” Select one U.N. Election Monitor, then divide everyone else up into two groups: voters and henchmen. While you turn your back and pretend every- thing is going really, really well, “voters” try to run up and kick the can before “henchmen” stop them.

Magic 81/4 – Ball

Buy? Sell? Forget your broker’s “opinion” and just ask the Magic 81/4 – Ball. It couldn’t be any worse.

Filibusted

Pretend you’re Congress and you’re trying to do something to re-ignite the economy, only you get so bogged down in partisanship you just stand around calling each other names.

The Coupon Game

What kid doesn’t like to cut things out? Here, you put yours to work helping you find enough coupons to make up the difference between what you make and what you spend. (While technically not a game, it would probably be helpful. Plus, you can give your kids bonus points if they find any coupons that are good for discounted liquor or anti-depressants.)

Chinese Toy Russian Roulette

Toxic? Non-toxic? Line up the toys and use a home lead-test to find out.

HOW CAN YOU LOSE A HOUSE?

KID: How can you lose a house?
PARENT: What?
KID: How can you lose something as big as a house?
PARENT: No, you can’t really lose a house. When people say that they don’t mean “lose” like when you lose your shoes or a DVD case, they mean they’re going to have to give the house back to the bank.
KID: Why does the bank get it?
PARENT: Well… when people buy a house, they go to a bank and borrow the money they need to pay for it.
KID: Oh.
PARENT: So even though they live in the house, it’s technically “owned” by the bank until they pay the money back.
KID: Did we borrow money to pay for our house?
PARENT: Yes.
KID: So then it’s technically “owned” by the bank, too, until we pay them back?
PARENT: It is.
KID: Awesome. Do we have any orange paint?
PARENT: Why?
KID: ‘cause even though Mom won’t let me paint my room orange, I bet the bank would since that’s one of their colors.

FORECLOSURE ETIQUETTE

  1. No gloating.
  2. If you must ridicule your neighbors for being stupid enough to get an adjustable rate mortgage, do so in private.
  3. And before you do ridicule your neighbors in private for being stupid enough to get an adjustable rate mortgage, check your own mortgage to make sure you didn’t do the exact same thing.
  4. Keep in mind that while neighbors should try to help each other out in times of trouble, this does not mean you should offer to buy their almost-new home theater set-up for 10 cents on the dollar. (Unless they are moving out of the area, in which case, go for it.)
  5. To get back any tools, toys or lawn furniture you’ve loaned them, take the indirect approach. Start by saying, “Oh, say, did we ever return that lawn aerator we borrowed? We should both probably check our garages, just to make sure nothing gets left behind.”
  6. Don’t drop off a tuna casserole. They are not infirmed.
  7. Do bring liquor.
  8. If you’re so inclined, pray (for them, not that the same thing won’t happen to you).
  9. If your kids ask you why the neighbors are losing their house, just say “They’re not losing their house – it’s right there where it’s always been.” And then tell them to get ready for bed before they ask a lot of questions that even the world’s foremost economists couldn’t fully explain.
  10. If anyone from outside the neighborhood asks what happened, lie and tell them the neighbors are trading up, relocating for business, downsizing and moving to a small town in Ohio, getting divorced, etc. – anything but the fact they’re being foreclosed on, as that information could have a negative effect on property values.
  11. Always remember that it could just as easily have been you.
  12. And still might be.