What’s the worst part about playing board games with the family? Setting up and cleaning up afterwards. Especially if you have games that have a lot of pieces. We’ve all been there – open up a game box only to find that the contents have shifted and spilled. Sometimes it takes as long to sort them back into order as it does to play the game in the first place! Many game companies have heard the complaints and started getting more creative with their plastic inserts or even including extra plastic baggies to help keep things in order. But they are limited because of the need to keep production costs to a minimum. A cottage industry has spawned recently with companies offering custom laser-cut wooden inserts for specific games, and while some of them are gorgeous to look at, they can also cost as much if not more than the original game! That doesn’t mean you have to live with messy games. Here are a couple ideas and sources for products you can inexpensively use to both protect and organize your gaming addiction:
NO! Don’t put these around your decks of cards (unless you love ruining them)! These specially-made box bands help keep the lids to your game in place. If the lid stays on, the parts (no matter how messy) can’t fall out. At around a buck a piece it is cheap insurance for keeping your game complete.
You might recognize these as a product from when your or a family member collected baseball cards. Affectionately called “penny sleeves”, they were simply meant to protect the surface of the card from handling oil and wear. Card sleeves have definitely evolved – not only do they come in almost any size imaginable, they can also be found with custom backs branded for your game. Whether you play Magic the Gathering or just want to protect your UNO cards so they last longer, card sleeves are also a cheap solution for getting the most out of your purchase.
Many games have fan-created (or officially-sanctioned) boxes you can print out and assemble on your own home printer. Fans of Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game have fleets of miniature ships that are prone to breaking if they aren’t stored correctly. Thanks to dedicated fans, there are solutions that store each ship individually, virtually guaranteeing that Luke Skywalker will arrive in one piece.
But for some, cardboard boxes just won’t do. The fishing aisle at Walmart is a popular place to find Plano tackle boxes and organizers to sort and store games that have a wide variety of pieces. Of course the game may no longer fit in the original box this way, but that is a small price to pay for being organized!
This is probably the widest-used and most cost-effective solution I can recommend. There are a wide variety of shapes/sizes/price points of plastic storage containers on the market, and definitely one that will work for your game. You can find them in the dollar aisle at Target as well as at CVS and Walgreen’s drug stores. Nearly every dollar store (Dollar Tree, Dollar General, etc.) has some type of multi-package that gets your cost way down. Our current favorite, even though it is rumored to be discontinued and replaced by these, is this 10-pack from Dollar Tree. They are short enough to fit in any game box, are rectangular so they don’t waste box space like a round one does and are only 10 cents each! You can find them with the other Tupperware-like containers, and failing that, consider their line of craft containers made for beaders. Regardless of which games you have in your collection, I’m positive they could all use a little straightening up with some of the above suggestions. This will only lead to more time for actual game-playing and less time game-sorting!