Expert Deb Geigis Berry says skip the technology for some good old-fashioned fun

By peoplestaff225
Updated June 12, 2011 11:00 AM

Raising two kids in a home that includes a Wii, an iPad, computers and cell phones, family expert Deb Geigis Berry knows how difficult it is to get the family together for some one-on-one time. So she’s turning to a trick used by her own parents to reunite her clan — family game night.

“I think that tradition is enjoying a resurgence because many families are looking for ways to connect face-to-face in an electronic era,” she told PEOPLE. “I really think game night is great because part of my tips include turning off the TV and cell phone, or whatever might distract you from interacting, and truly connecting.”

Having enjoyed game night with her own parents and grandparents growing up, Berry is excited to pass the fun custom onto her children, 9-year-old son Hudson and 12-year-old daughter Cady, as well as families worldwide. That’s why she’s partnered with Hershey’s Kisses to help others plan their own special night in.

“It’s really incredible the kind of power that these classic, old-fashioned board games have with kids,” Berry, whose own family cites Monopoly and Twister as favorites, said. “I think kids feel really special when parents take time out of their busy schedules to sit down and play with them.”

First and foremost, she suggests families, “schedule a date and time. You want your kids to know that you’re serious about spending time with them.” As a reminder, Berry tucks small notes into her children’s backpacks or lunchboxes with the message, ‘Are you game?’

To keep the tradition from getting stale, Berry suggests introducing a new game into the mix every once in a while, and designating a “game captain” to learn the rules and explain them to the rest of the family. That way, “the night of game night, he or she just sort of summarizes how to play the game, so you can start playing more quickly.”

Lastly, Berry emphasizes the importance of shutting off the TV, cell phones and any other electronic distractions in order to properly connect with one another. “I think the eye-to-eye contact, the laughter, the one-liners, all those things that develop from a game that you’re playing [don’t happen with electronic distractions],” she says. “Some of the reactions are really priceless.”

Kiran Hefa