I always tell parents who would like to use board games to reclaim family time, to start by developing their own love and enthusiasm for tabletop games. If you don’t play many games and don’t know where to start, then go back to basics with a humble deck of playing cards.
Write down all the card games you can remember: solitaire games, games for 2, 3, 4 and more. Try to think back to every game you’ve ever been taught and note them all down. If you can’t remember the game name, just make one up. As long as you know what you are referring to, that is fine. Now put the cards in your bag or coat – the item you’re most likely to have when you’re out. Your mission is to ask everyone you can – friends, colleagues, relatives, neighbours – what card games they know. Ask them to teach you. Ask them to play with you for 10 minutes so that you can learn. See how many games you can collect from people in the course of a week and jot them all down in a notebook.
Now get hold of a copy of The Penguin Book of Card Games or The Penguin Book of Patience both by David Partlett (read about when I was on a panel with David here). These bibles of card games will help you delve deeper. Pick a page at random and learn the game. At the first opportunity aim to teach the game to someone else (anyone else). It’s good to get practice at learning games and then teaching them to others. The more game-teaching skills you develop, the easier it will be to hook in the family. Grab your deck of cards and go.