FOR MY family Christmas is not Christmas without The Great Game of Britain. We sit around the coffee table and out comes the board. There’s a map of Britain on it, with railway lines and well-known destinations prominently marked.

Destinations from Stornoway in the far north, to Penzance in the south. There’s Dover, York, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Edinburgh, Cardiff and a host of others. Each player chooses six cards, each picturing a destination. The aim is to travel around the board visiting them all, while other players try to stop you by various means.

It’s an appropriately named ‘great’ game - fast-paced and interesting. It’s educational too, helping to players to learn about the geography of their own country. I hadn’t heard of Stornoway before I played it.

Of course it isn’t the only game we have played at Christmas. Over the years there’s been Monopoly, Cluedo, Scrabble and many more.

Common to all families each game has its politics. Monopoly can drag on for hours. It’s okay if you manage to buy Mayfair, Park Lane and the green-coloured set, but if, within half an hour, you’re saddled with Whitechapel Road and a utility company you might as well give up. Many do, with those whose properties fail to bring in the booty getting up for frequent toilet breaks which are in reality trips to the kitchen to pick at the leftover turkey. At least half the players lose interest more quickly than banknotes and, often, someone will accidentally on purpose catch their knee under the table, sending hotels and houses tumbling to the floor, signalling the end of the game.

Scrabble brings a deluge of questions, the most common being “Is that a word?”, with my dad whipping out the dictionary. It’s not the most exciting game, but I love it.

Christmas is for spending time with family. Due to our fast-paced way of life, we're often guilty of neglecting those closest to us. Board games are a great way of sharing time with them.

Even if the game dissolves in a full-scale argument ,which some invariably do, at least it offers some kind of human interaction, in which players are looking each other in the face.

Crucially, it does not involve the use of a handset and screen. Many of us are now obsessed with gaming of a more impersonal kind - on smart phones and the web. Prolonged gaming of this type is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a disorder, which can lead to stress.

But just as vinyl records and page-turning books have made a comeback, so board games, jigsaws and toys are seeing a resurgence.

Market research group NPD recorded a 20 per cent rise in sales of table top games, including card and dice games and role-play titles such as Dungeons & Dragons.

Not all boardgames help you relax, however. The couple of times I’ve attempted to play Risk I had to abandoned it after failing to grasp rules more complex than Brexit.

When I was a child I craved Mousetrap. My parents refused to buy it, saying it was plastic rubbish and would easily break. I have to admit they were right. Whenever I played the game at friends’ homes they complained of broken parts.

So what about this Christmas? We could always take on the challenge of a new game, but I suspect it will be back to the Great Game of Britain.