For a fuss-free Father’s Day feast, elevate curry night with these fail-safe side dishes.

by Sarah ▪ 17 Jun, 2021

The glory of games night

An evening of board games might sound wholesome and, to the uninitiated, even dull – but there are few pastimes that offer such a broad array of mental, emotional and physical benefits without leaving the comfort of your own home. For starters – and most importantly – games are a fabulous way to bring a family together. Even though competitive arguments can’t be ruled out, the overall effect of playing games is to bring people closer together and strengthen relationships. Laughter is often a side effect of games – especially if you pick the right ones! – and this helps to bond people and reduce stress.

Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.’ Now, science has proved him right – playing strategic games has been shown to increase brain function. When you look at the skills board games help to develop, this seems self-evident: from learning patience and forward thinking to practising creativity and strategy. For kids, this is extra good news, because an atmosphere of fun and giggles is the most conducive to learning, and the skill they acquire will help them to develop independence and self-confidence.
Games also have the power to release those wonderful chemicals, endorphins, the body’s natural ‘happy hormones’. Not only do they leave someone feeling good, the impact on both conscious and unconscious mind functions can affect their whole attitude, leaving them more compassionate and open.
With all these advantages, it seems imperative that we all make a dash for our diaries and book in a games night as soon as possible – and Father’s Day is the perfect excuse.

Brain food

We’ve seen that playing games is good for the brain, but before we get stuck in to recommending the perfect games for your family and friends, we think it’s important to tuck into some hearty nourishment. That way your brain will be firing on all cylinders by the time it comes to plotting your cunning strategy. Of course, sharing meals with others is also another fantastic way to get endorphins fizzing nicely, especially if helped along with a glass of bubbly – although that may not help you pull off your game plan!

On the other hand, a meal on games night shouldn’t take too long, or create much in the way of washing up. You want something with minimal prep and maximum satisfaction – which is why we’ve come up with the ultimate sharing plates for you to try.
Simply fill a big sharing platter with crunchy nacho chips and use a Gourmade meal as a delicious, hearty topper. We recommend our spicy Chilli Con Carne for a traditional topping, finished with a generous grating of cheese and some dollops of guacamole and sour cream for good measure. For vegetarians and plant-based eaters, our Smoky Chipotle Vegetable Chilli is equally delicious.
For a slightly different – but no less indulgent! – topper, use our Macaroni Cheese and Bacon, for the ultimate in comfort food. Pop your sharer in the middle of the table and let everyone serve themselves – although this may lead to the competition hotting up even before the first die is cast!
The same toppings work just as well for loaded potatoes – and our Sweet Potato Wedges are the perfect base. With the wedges, you also have the option of creating a more formal meal if you choose (still with no fuss!), by serving the topped potatoes alongside a fresh green salad and a zingy vinaigrette, with avocado and tomato slices.
Social gatherings are never quite complete without a sweet. For a great family sharing dessert, why not try a couple of our delicious roulades .You can’t go wrong with a mix of Chocolate Roulade and Salted Caramel Roulade for a sweet tooth, especially when served with a scoop of creamy gelato. As it’s Father’s Day, maybe Dad can get away with the biggest portion just this once!

Let the games begin

Board games have been doing booming business for the past few years, and the choices are endless. In fact, if you’re new to the scene, it can be quite daunting. While it’s tempting to go for the well-known names like Monopoly, there are many more fun and challenging options out there (although the Monopoly Deal card game is great for a quick game).

Having said that, some old favourites are still worth mentioning – and Articulate is one of them. Expect much laughter as people try to explain objects, famous people or places without mentioning any of the most helpful words to do so.
Along the same lines, but with a twist, is Time’s Up, which uses the same cards over three rounds, which progressively get harder – the taboo words is the easiest, followed by charades and finally by striking a single pose. The hilarity comes in from the bizarre actions that become associated with each card over time. Both these games are great for large groups, for low-stakes (but invariably loud!) fun.
If you fancy testing out something a bit different, there are plenty of games that are quick to play and easy to pick up. Among these are No Thanks, a deceptively simple card game in which you either take a card, or pay a token to avoid it. It’s suitable for older children, too, and the quick rounds mean that a loss isn’t too disheartening – at least the first five times!
Codenames is another great option – here two opposing ‘spies’ attempt to convey the correct words from a grid to their team by making connections between seemingly unrelated words – all without their team accidentally helping out the other side or springing a booby trap. This one definitely scores high on creativity – and you get an insight into the peculiar workings of other people’s minds, too!

Call my bluff

Social deduction games are always exciting, involving secrecy and bluff worthy of a poker champ. Each player is assigned a role, and must try to ascertain whether others are acting in good faith, or are not who they appear. Some are team games and others are all about the individual win. An easily accessible example of a team game is Bang!,a Western-themed game with sheriffs, outlaws and renegades all armed to the teeth and shooting to kill, while in Love Letter it’s each bishop, captain, countess, assassin or handmaiden for themselves. All of these would also make great family games for children of secondary school age.

Other social deduction games for larger groups include Good Cop Bad Cop, One Night Werewolf and The Resistance.

Levelling up

If you’re a board game pro, or want to explore further, there are many brilliant, but initially overwhelming games to try. These tend to involve detailed scenarios (and beautiful artwork) in which you have to build up resources over time – having to make critical decisions at every step. They are intricately balanced and plotted, and often you won’t know who’s won until the end because there are many ways to accrue the winning currency. These games really repay the initial effort, and are real relationship builders, often becoming a family or friends’ staple entertainment.

Some of our favourites in this category include Catan  (seafarers racing to settle new lands successfully), Seven Wonders  (creating a dynasty over three eras), Great Western Trail  (19th century cattle ranchers trying to make good) and Viticulture (competitive wine-making). There really is a game for any scenario you can imagine – and probably more that you can’t! – so you could even find one tailored to your dad’s niche interests.
If your family members are really too competitive for any of these, cooperative games may be the answer. In these, everyone works together against the game itself. Robinson Crusoe is a great example of this. Four players must work together to survive on a desert island, fending off dangerous weather and ravening beasts while feeding themselves, creating tools and shelter, and building up the all-important signal fire. It’s definitely a challenge – could your family be up to the task?

You’re never too young

We’ve already made several recommendations for games suitable for younger members of the family here, but such is the abundance of choice, we thought we’d offer a few more zingers for you to try.

Outfoxed is a cooperative whodunnit in the Cluedo vein. Mrs Plumpert’s pot pie has been pilfered, and your job is to work out which artful fox was the thief before he or she escapes the coop. Each player has a choice of uncovering clues or suspects, and gradually the team will be able to eliminate foxes based on whether they (for instance) sport a monocle or wear flowers in their fur. Encouraging cooperation, visual discrimination and inference, this is a fast-paced game suitable for children over 5 and fun for all the family, whatever their age. But be warned … your children’s newly honed deduction abilities may make it harder to sneak that last biscuit from the tin without facing serious interrogation!
Dobble is another hit, and marvellously transportable, consisting simply of a stack of round cards in a handy tin. Each card is unique, and contains a range of icons. Each pair of cards has one – and only one – icon in common. This simple premise leads to a range of furiously fast-paced games, in which children’s speedy reactions gives them the advantage!
On the more educational (but still fun) side, Bus Stop is a great choice. Helping children with counting skills along with basic addition and subtraction, it involves picking up and dropping off passengers on your way back to the bus station.
For really little ones, try Sleepy Sloths, and have a riotous time making silly noises (miaowing like a cat, revving like a car) to wake up your snoozing sloths. Who said games for kids had to be dull?
Finally, Articulate for kids is a great way to involve younger ones in the action. The cards are designed with people and places they’re likely to know – but the question is, will you?

Announce your victory!

Let us know your favourite family board games on Insta, Twitter or Facebook – and send a snap of your conquering champion. We’d also love to see pictures of your take on Gourmade nacho toppers – did you find your own winning recipe?