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All Fun and Games : Here are some ideas to keep the folks busy--and out of your kitchen--on Thanksgiving Day.

November 21, 1998|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Among the blessings we commonly give thanks for this week is our extended family.

We think about our aunts, uncles and cousins throughout the year, but time passes so quickly we rarely have the opportunity to visit with them.

It is occasions such as Thanksgiving that provide the excuse we need to gather with these cherished folk.

Gathering is nice. That is until you realize you have to keep these people entertained all day while you prepare the Thanksgiving feast.

You tell your relatives that as much as you would love to have their help with the preparation, there's just not room enough for two dozen hands to stuff the turkey at the same time.

Instead, you suggest, they might have more fun in some other group activity. Perhaps they would like to play a game--a long game. Or work on a puzzle--a really challenging puzzle.

We went shopping for board games and puzzles with which to stock your arsenal. They might make nice Christmas and Hanukkah gifts, too, if you're planning ahead.

For our first stop, we visited The Game Keeper at The Oaks mall in Thousand Oaks.

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The store, on the bottom level next to JC Penney, is sponsoring a prize giveaway through the end of November. Customers buying one of the store's "Top 10" games will have a chance to win the other nine on the list.

Among the selected games are Triopoly (a three-board version of Monopoly, $39.95); Therapy (a game that requires answering psychological questions, $29.95); Rush Hour (a game-puzzle that tests gridlock-evasion skills, $17) and the Orient Express 3-D Puzzle (a 769-piece, three-dimensional puzzle of the legendary locomotive, $45.)

For time-consuming projects, we might also suggest The Game Keeper's collection of Impossibles, a line of 750-piece jigsaw puzzles with five additional pieces thrown in just for the heck of it. The selection includes a "Fish and Chips" picture that features computer chips hidden within a school of goldfish. Cost for each of the Impossibles puzzles is $14.50.

If the 3-D Puzzles are more appealing, there is a 3,141-piece New York, New York version ($99.95) that ought to keep the cousins busy through Valentine's Day.

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In the category of Products Likely to Cause a Family Argument, the store has a Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus board game that requires men and women to answer gender-revealing questions. Cost is $40.

The Mars-Venus game is on a number of store shelves this holiday season and it might be worth shopping around. (Of course, women are more likely than men to comparison shop.) At Toys R Us in Oxnard, the game is going for $24.99 and at Kay-Bee Toys at the Buenaventura Mall, it's priced at $29.99.

Among the other items on the games shelves at Toys R Us are several variations of the traditional Monopoly game.

A Spanish-language version is selling for $10.99 and a Deluxe Edition, made for the toy store chain with markers representing Toys R Us characters and popular toys (a Nerf football, Lincoln Logs, Play-Doh), is priced at $24.99.

The generic Deluxe Edition Monopoly games also can be found in a couple of locations at the Buenaventura Mall--at Kay-Bee Toys for $24.99 and at John T's for $25.99. John T's also has a Triopoly game for $39.99 and an Orient Express 3-D Puzzle for $39.99).

And as long as everyone wins at least one game, it should be a happy holiday.

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