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Get Ready for Game Night

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New concepts and old favorites bring fun to the table

It seems that everyone has busy schedules these days. While it may be hard to find time to spend with family and friends, it's worth the wait when you can all finally get together for a good time. Instituting a "game night" is great way to set aside time for the people you care about, and with so many entertaining games on the market today, everyone will look forward to your weekly or monthly gatherings.

Apples to Apples is a recent product that has everyone buzzing with excitement. The object is to match people, places and things to entertaining adjectives; the result is tons of comical comparisons that will have your family and friends laughing for hours. Each player takes a turn judging comparisons, so it's also a test to see how well you know your gaming group. This award-winning game from Mattel comes in a Junior Edition, so kids around nine and up can enjoy, too. Check out www.mattel.com for reviews and prices.

If you're looking for a scrabble-like game that's a little more fast-paced, pick up Bananagrams. Players race to create crossword grids and use all their letter tiles; the tiles are facedown when you select them, so be prepared for a challenge. For additional ways to play Bananagrams, like Banana Smoothie, Banana Cafe and Banana Solitaire, visit www.bananagrams.com.

Charades has always been a party favorite, so it's no wonder that toy manufacturer Hasbro's version of the classic game has been a success. The popular Guesstures requires a player to place four cards into the Action Timer, then act out each card before time runs out. You'll only have a few seconds to act, and if your team fails to guess the correct person, place or thing, the card will disappear into the Action Timer. If your team guesses right, grab the card then keep moving to collect all four. Guesstures is for four or more players and comes with 378 cards, as well as a "Best Performance" trophy. Visit www.hasbro.com for more information.

Monopoly is a classic game that can be played for fun or with a more competitive spirit. If you're looking for a new twist on an old favorite, however, try a special edition Monopoly set. Texans will be proud to own a copy of Texas State Monopoly where players use Spur & Star Cards and pewter tokens in the shape of armadillos and cowboy hats. Are you a big college sports fan? Special edition Monopoly sets also get into the team spirit. UConnopoly will have you cheering for the Huskies year-round while Irishopoly makes a perfect gift for diehard Notre Dame fans. You can order a copy for yourself or a friend at websites like www.etailgifts.com.

Whether you hold game night once a week or only around the holidays, it'll bring everyone together and get them laughing. From wordplay strategies to physical challenges, there's a game out there for your group - even kids have plenty of fun and educational options. Get shopping because game night's right around the corner.

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