Need suggestions for non-electronic fun
July 8, 2011 12:29 AM   Subscribe

(Posting for non-mefites) Couple in their 30’s, happily married 10 years, no children, they have great weekends, great vacations. However, husband comes home tired from work, default evenings are husband/iPad, wife/computer. What are some playing together or parallel play options?

They are both very smart, very funny people. Both are savvy computer users; both play computer games -- they want their evenings to be more personal. Watching television, or a movie on television is not much different than messing around with their computers. Constraints: 1) tired at end of day and don’t really want to go out, or invite other people over; 2) foot issues mean long walks after dinner are usually not an option; 3) reading out loud tends to put husband to sleep. They do play board games, from chess to Pass the Pig, but don’t have any game that is really compelling, something they can’t wait to sit down and play every night.

What do you do for non-obvious electronic fun in the evening? For instance, I know a couple who take weekend courses in painting, then put their easels up side by side and paint in the evenings. Real life experience and tips especially valuable, but they’d like to hear whatever ideas people have. Thanks!

Note: I have looked at older, similar threads, but nothing addresses the non-electronic, no going out parameters here; most are lists of favorite games.
posted by kestralwing to Grab Bag (34 answers total) 84 users marked this as a favorite
Playing an MMORPG together as a couple is really fun.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:48 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is bike riding possible? It's easier on the feet than walking, but it's not so intense that you can't do it after a workday (unless you live in a very hilly area, I guess).
posted by neushoorn at 12:50 AM on July 8, 2011

Maybe they can learn some sort of craft or hobby together that can be done sitting down? Knitting, crocheting, etc.
posted by luckynerd at 1:15 AM on July 8, 2011

Some good 2-player boardgames are Carcassonne and Ticket To Ride. Both have various different versions and expansions to keep the interesting if they play them a lot.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:36 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Start a home project together - nothing brought my SO and I away from the screens and hurtling towards quality time with each other more than tackling the garden, deck, painting and remodeling together. Each night, we looked forward to jobs big and small, plus you have the bonus of a MUCH nicer house at the end of it! On the nights we didn't feel like physical labour, we surfed the net together for ideas for our next project, deals on equipment, etc. It was fun.
posted by shazzam! at 1:41 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I really think board games are still worth considering. There are some good board games specifically designed for only two players: Lost Cities, Kahuna and Mr Jack are all easy, short and fun. Carcassonne is a great one for two players but can also be played with bigger groups. Settlers of Catan is another classic which does two players well. Other really addictive games I love are Ticket To Ride (I especially prefer the Europe version) and Dominion, but I am not sure how they play with just two players. These are all games that are relatively quick to set up, easy to learn, have short(ish) play times, and are lots of fun.
posted by maybeandroid at 1:45 AM on July 8, 2011 [9 favorites]

What about cooking together? My boyfriend and I are trying ever more complicated and interesting dishes and it doesn't seem to get old. On nights when one of us is really tired, they are on Gin & Tonic making duty while the other one cooks.
posted by guessthis at 2:10 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oops, just saw you said electronic fun. Ummm... searching out recipes and ingredients online to compose dishes, then taking the experiment to the kitchen?
posted by guessthis at 2:12 AM on July 8, 2011

There is a whole world of boardgames beyond the mainstream, many of which would be excellent for two slightly geeky players. Rock Paper Shotguns "Cardboard Children" column highlights a game you probably won't have heard of each week and explains why you should play it - reading that column might give you some ideas - and infact the latest column is a roundup of great games for two players.

I know you said non-electronic - but In terms of electronic fun I think "Co-op" computer games can be a lot more fun and interpersonal than just "games" - for instance, I found playing portal 2 with a partner was a real blast.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 2:23 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Kinect Dance Central!
posted by moorooka at 2:39 AM on July 8, 2011

Other really addictive games I love are Ticket To Ride (I especially prefer the Europe version) and Dominion, but I am not sure how they play with just two players.

There are actually two Ticket To Ride versions designed specifically for 2-3 players (rather than 2-5) - Nordic Countries (which is a full game) and Switzerland (which is just an expansion and needs an existing full game to work). Europe works fine with two people though.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:10 AM on July 8, 2011

Re: Ticket to Ride - thanks EndsofInvention, that is good to know. I did consider buying the Nordic version recently, but my problem is usually we have too many players, not too few. If there was a six player expansion, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I shall have to see if I can try a two player game at some point though.
posted by maybeandroid at 3:30 AM on July 8, 2011

Jigsaws? My ex-boyfriend got me a "WasJig" once and we spent a couple of weeks completing was strangely compelling :)
posted by cardamine at 4:34 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

seconding jigsaw puzzles. I just got some for my wife and me. I've never really been into puzzles before, but the idea of spending quiet evenings on a fun, low-stress project together is enticing. Old adventure games for the computer - myst type stuff - may also be fun since you both like computers anyway.
posted by Quizicalcoatl at 4:57 AM on July 8, 2011

How about starting their own two-person book club? Each person reads at their own pace, but they do it together: relaxed on the couch, lying in bed, etc. At the end of the week, they go out to dinner -- or stay in and order pizza -- and discuss the book.

For added fun, each person takes their turn to choose a book. No vetoing.

To keep it economical, they could use the library, or, since they have at least one iPad, they could purchase another one (or a cheaper e-reader), and use public domain novels. Project Gutenberg has almost half a million books, and they're all free.
posted by Georgina at 5:24 AM on July 8, 2011

Ticket to Ride
Settlers of Catan
Chez Geek

Tell them to go find a local geeky board game store (the same store that sells D&D, Warhammer and Magic will also be a great resource for board game knowledge) and peruse the items there.

My wife and I played Chez Geek pretty religiously for a while, but our current place just isn't conducive to board games.
posted by zombieApoc at 5:27 AM on July 8, 2011

Portal 2 has an absolutely fantastic two player co-operative option that is about as good as two player gaming can get.

Seconding modern board games - Carcassonne is great, but my favourite is Puerto Rico, although it's for 3-5 playesr, you can get a set of rules for 2 players here

be warned, it can get quite serious and you may fall out!
posted by mairuzu at 5:28 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

My husband and I play Sam and Max together. Only one person is using the controller, but we're both looking for clues, figuring out the puzzles, etc. It works with two people because nothing is particularly time sensitive, and not much depends on exact controller placement, so the person who is "driving" isn't actually interacting with the game that much more than the other person.
posted by Adridne at 5:32 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I echo a lot of the board game suggestions. With Dominion, there's an online portal for playing, which my husband and I default to when it's just the two of us (or we want to play with a friend in another state). We like the online portal because it doesn't involve all the work of pulling out the cards, but if you're just learning, the cards are the best way to learn.
posted by Terriniski at 6:15 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I nth puzzles. We didn't finish ours (pro tip: don't pick space-scene puzzle as your first), but after a long period of video-game burnout we spent a month working on it and it was very relaxing, yet engaging, quality time. Plus, if you're not over-ambitious like we are you can paint it over with puzzle glue and display it when you're done!
posted by AmandaA at 6:41 AM on July 8, 2011

One of our fav games is cribbage..
posted by k5.user at 7:27 AM on July 8, 2011

I realize puzzles/games are a very personal thing, but my girlfriend and I are really into Quirkle cubes. It does resemble Set, which probably falls in the "classic" category.
posted by O9scar at 7:50 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

German Whist is easy to learn, has a good balance of luck and skill and games go fast
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 AM on July 8, 2011

Nthing Dominion! Best part is that with two players, it's nice and short-- 15min/game-- and, if played online, pretty much effortlessly fun.

The online portal Terriniski linked is good, but I personally tend to prefer Brettspielwelt for Dominion online, because it has a nice graphic interface where you can see all the pretty cards.
posted by Bardolph at 10:05 AM on July 8, 2011

Puzzles while you watch something you both like results in some of my favorite memories. Like someone else said you can save the puzzle if you want or scrap it. Watching something that's kind of episodic also helps like Star Trek or Psych.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:05 AM on July 8, 2011


Also, eat dinner together every night with NO SCREENS AT THE TABLE. Watch TedTalks and then discuss them. Rummikub is fun for two players. Take short walks if that's all you can manage. Plant a garden or do other projects together. Take your activities outside, no matter what they are. Dinner, reading, iPad, board games, etc. are all better outside.
posted by cnc at 10:43 AM on July 8, 2011

Find new recipes and cook together
posted by WizKid at 11:25 AM on July 8, 2011

- Get a book and learn to give each other professional-quality back massages.
- Design your dream house together, like if money was no object. Create a floor plan, decorating plans, etc.
- Plan your next vacation.
- Learn to waltz/salsa/etc., perhaps using YouTube videos.
- Motivate each other to clean out your closets and donate things to charity. Perhaps with ridiculous music on so this doesn't seem like such a chore.
- Plan and implement a garden together.
posted by vytae at 2:43 PM on July 8, 2011

Some local chapters of Tedx have Ted Adventures, some of which are at night and are frequently free and run the range from actual adventures to nice talks to relaxing activities.
posted by UMDirector at 3:16 PM on July 8, 2011

One can read a book out loud to the other. Or, audio books - you can check them out from the library.
Can do other activities while listening, eg knitting, jigsaw puzzle, even certain computer activities or household tasks.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:08 PM on July 8, 2011

Ach, missed the no-read-aloud parameter; sorry.

I'll second the above board and card game lists.
Playing with pets.
Zork text-adventure games could be fun, though they're electronic they can be collaborative.
Crossword puzzles - you can get books of them which are easy, medium, hard, crazy-hard etc and advance through the ranks. Cryptic crosswords are also good for doing together.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:11 PM on July 8, 2011

Possibility: wife gets a laptop, the two of you can sit together on a couch (not in separate chairs...I want your legs touching, people!) and putz around while relaxing. Him on iPad, her on laptop. "Oh, check out this video!" "Hey, let me send you a link!" "Let's listen to this podcast (try The Bugle) or this audiobook!"

Also, start games around your house. Put up a dry-erase board or chalkboard somewhere. One person writes an adjective. The next person, wandering around in day-to-day life walks by it, writes a noun and then another adjective. ( write "Fabulous"...the partner writes "Wildebeest!"....and so on)
posted by carlh at 10:31 AM on July 9, 2011

Plan and cook dinner together. It's quite lovely, and it fires up the senses, which can lead to... yeah.
posted by Decani at 12:21 PM on July 9, 2011

we listen to podcasts over lunch in the summer/weekends and then talk about them. games like bananagrams, nyt crosswords and zookeeper for the ds, etc. go for walks at dusk, even better with ice cream cones or something similar (mmm paletas). some kind of exercise that involves tracking each other's progress and giving feedback--my husband and i are doing a lifting program, but marathon jogging or cycling or swimming comes to mind too. dancing. karaoke night. teach each other skills--woodworking, how to fix a car, how to cook or hem/fix buttons, foreign languages, math. make up songs together. yes to household projects--the sense of accomplishment once the room's repainted or the garage gets cleaned out when you've done it together is great.
posted by ifjuly at 1:32 PM on July 9, 2011

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