Out of ideas for new things to do? Go old-school instead

Dust off those retro board games and analog activities—playtimes of yesteryear fuel new connections today.

Thanks to pandemic-caused stay-at-home orders, families across the country have been enjoying an abundance of together-time. (So. Much. Time.) School—even from a distance—at least provided some structure. But with summer options like camp and overnight visits to friends’ houses too risky, parents are wondering, now what?

More and more, moms and dads are answering that question by reaching into their own childhood memories for ideas. Whether out of resourcefulness, nostalgia, or a little desperation, they’re disconnecting kids from digital devices and plugging them into old-school playtime—think retro board games, jigsaw puzzles, fort building, and roller skating.

James Zahn, senior editor of The Toy Insider, sees this trend toward retro play reflected in the uptick in industry sales figures. Jigsaw puzzles have famously been in high demand ever since the pandemic first sent families sheltering in March. Classic board games like Risk, Sorry!, Pictionary, and Monopoly “are selling as if they’re brand new,” he says. Bicycle sales have sped up, with skateboards and roller skates also seeing huge spikes.