Ten ways to play more this year

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The word I chose for 2018 is freedom, and one of the supporting words I chose is play. To me, a big part of feeling free means taking life less seriously. It means bringing lightness and fun to my work and especially to my downtime. While I’m still trying to figure out how to do the former, I consider myself rather proficient at the latter. Having fun is something I’m pretty darn good at. 

To me, proper fun requires four things: being with other people; being present and engaged; being open - to newness, challenge, failure, or looking dumb; and large amounts of laughter. I’m fortunate to have a partner and a group of friends who don’t shy away from playful activities. I’m also lucky to be living in a time when play is becoming more and more accessible to adults. Gone are the days when we had to settle for bowling, mini-golf or billiards - leaving the actual fun stuff to the kids. Now we have more options than ever. 

If you’re looking to add more fun and play to your year, I’ve got you covered. Here are twelve ways to make 2018 your funnest yet. Hint: Your first lesson is accepting my use of ‘funnest’ instead of ‘more fun’ ;)

Dive into board games

Board games have exploded in the last 10 years and I love it so much. If you think you’re limited to old standbys like Monopoly and Risk, it turns out there’s a whole new world for you to explore, with a game for every person, every mood, and every situation. Now you can explore haunted houses , race camels, uncover spies, go for sushi, and break your brain, all in one night. And if you don’t want to drop $50 for your favourite game, you can probably play it at a board game cafe near you. 

Jump on a trampoline

When a friend told me that she and her siblings were going to a trampoline park on Christmas Eve a few years ago, I was blown away. Public trampolines? What kind of magical place is this? We joined them and had the most amazing time bouncing off walls, jumping into the foam pit, and even playing trampoline dodgeball. We booked an hour thinking it wouldn’t be enough time and we were played out after 30 minutes. If your city doesn’t have this kind of space, see if you can at least find a trampoline fitness class. I just went to one at our local barre studio and it was a ridiculously enjoyable workout. 

Play in water and or snow

We live near one of the biggest malls in the world and their World Waterpark is my partner’s favourite place. They have waterslides and a giant wavepool that guarantee hours of fun. But you don’t need anything that structured to have a good time in the water. Goofing around in a regular swimming pool counts, as does floating on a tube down a river. According to this artist, wading pools are great places for dancing. 

And if the water near you is solid for half the year (hello most of Canada) there are so many ways to have fun in the snow as well: toboganning, snow-ball fights, skating, etc. 

Revive a game from your childhood

Kickball is a classic game that anyone can play - like baseball but soooo much easier. Back in October we had a game of after-dark kickball that had us all in fits of giggles when we couldn’t see where the heck the ball was. Thankfully no one got hurt. Other options include capture the flag and hide and go seek. If you’re lucky, your city might have organized games of these like this one.  

Attempt an escape room

If you love mystery novels full of secret passageways and hidden treasure, then you will die for Escape rooms. The very first one I tried had a wardrobe with a false back that opened into another room when you solved one of the clues. We (me + three grown men) shrieked like children when it popped open. The gist is you have a certain amount of time to accomplish some kind of goal, usually by solving a series of puzzles. The good ones have convincing story lines and professionally designed sets and props, while some of the lower rent ones appear thrown together or just have puzzles with no story. 

Try something new that everyone is bad at

A friend told us she and her husband do this when they’re looking to spend more time together. They choose an activity that neither has done before and try it out. When you’re both bad at something and no one is taking it too seriously, it can be a great opportunity for hijinks and laughter. Some of my friends are trying to organize a group curling outing, which - unless we have some closet expert curlers - should be entertaining. 

Take an improv class

I just started my first improv class and it is a) more fun and b) far less scary than I had imagined. It’s basically just a room full of adults running around being silly, and being very very supportive of each others’ silliness. While I can’t speak for all improv classes out there, I’m loving this one because it’s high on laughter and low on judgement. 

Visit the zoo

I’ve set up light installations at our local zoo two Decembers in a row now. Each time, I needed to stop in every week to check on the art... and to make sure all the animals were doing okay too. My partner and I have spent so much time there I think they should hire us as tour guides. If you love watching funny animal videos, why not check them out in real life? Giving them funny voices is optional. 

Throw axes or knives

This is another activity I never would have dreamed up on my own, and I’m assuming we’re not the only city with several axe-throwing businesses. I can tell you that there are few things as satisfying in life than the resounding THUNK an axe makes when it hits a wooden target. A lot of these places also have knife throwing, in case you’ve ever wanted to bust out your inner ninja. You could also get your own axe and play outside like we did last winter. Just make sure you’re somewhere remote, i.e. not in a public park please. 

Find an arcade for grownups

We have at least two bars with arcades in our city, which means you can play Pacman with one hand and down a craft beer with the other. For this to fit my definition of proper fun (other people are required), I would recommend seeking out two-player games, or take turns cheering each other on. 

What’s your favourite way to play? Leave a comment below!