While sewing emergency summer clothes for the kids, I am also collecting games and other playthings for the long plane ride to Singapore and the lulls in activity at Grandma's and Grandpa's. We've amassed a sizable collection of card games over Christmas, which are great because they are portable and all three girls love them. While looking on amazon to buy a few more, I was surprised to find that there are no modern versions of that old classic, Happy Families. I wonder if it's because modern society considers it un-PC - only the man seems to have an occupation, his wife's only identity is Mrs-whatever-her-husband's-name-is, and quite a few of the occupations are outdated. Maybe people thought it would be ruinous to the self-worth or career ambitions of young girls. Well, phooey. It's a classic, and if it reflected the societal norms way back when, then so be it. Will it have ill-effects on my daughters' decisions to (or not) become Senator or President or whomever? I'll take my chances.
But that's beside the point - PC or not, I still couldn't find Happy Families (except in vintage version on ebay at some exorbitant price). So I made our own set!
First, I bought blank cards. About 500 - enough for mistakes, I thought.
These are plain white on both sides, so I stamped the backs to make them less boring.
Then I cast about for a way to draw 44 distinct characters without losing my mind. I wanted them easy enough so that I could just freehand them with a marker without needing 44 pencil sketches first, which would then have to be erased after the ink lines were drawn over. Suddenly saw, on the living room floor, our motley crew of peg dolls where the kids had left them for me to trip over. And therein found my answer.
Peg dolls are squat, uniformly-shaped, have flat features and look cartoony. I can do cartoony. Plus, they are easy to color. I will let the kids color them on the plane (must remember to pack Sharpies) before we play. It should buy us an hour or two, during which I might be able to walk to the back of the plane and swing my arms about and pretend to do calisthenics.
My sketches were now just on paper, like a master plan.
I included some of the usual traditional occupations, with a slight twist. The people I know and love were the inspiration for some of the ah... more interpretative versions - this family, for instance, was all about Jenna and her love of cookies and baking:
This little girl is Emily with a pseudonym:
This is Kate, circa 2010:
This is all my girls, playing post office:
And these are every tailor in Singapore and Malaysia, including Grandma/Mum/Auntie Laura:
These next two are both Dad, although I drew the first one after Bob the Builder:
There are also a few occupations that probably weren't around when the game was invented:
We have to change with the times, right?
I drew Mr Bit after my husband.
I thought I'd scan the cards, in case you wanted to make your own set - and in case my girls want to use them as coloring sheets.
Be warned, all ye politically-correct folks: these little guys are heavy on the stereotypes. At some point, I expect the girls will ask me, "Why don't the moms work?" To which I plan to reply: "They do - it's a family business, see - but the daddies pay the taxes so they get to name the companies after themselves."
You couldn't print them directly onto blank playing cards, but I imagine you could use card stock and cut them out all the same size. I only ask that, as with all the other freebies on this blog, they be for personal use and for gifts. I'd appreciate an email first if you'd like to mass-print multiple sets for use in schools or daycares or libraries or clubs or camps and other such settings.
I have to say that these blank playing cards are fast becoming my new favorite craft supply item. They are incredibly versatile! Think of the possibilities - DIY memory games, card games, flash cards, coupons, trading cards, pretend credit cards and ID cards, and even dominoes:
If your kids are anything like mine, they're going to love coloring on them and making their own collections and sets of stuff.
Odd idea: would anyone be interested in reading about how I draw what I draw? It suddenly occurred to me last week after some comments to a post in which I drew some cartoony thing - the board game, I think it was. Don't be expecting art school or anything authentic like that, I mean. It'll just be about me drawing shapes and things with my black markers. But since it'll be neither sewing nor cardboarding, it might be a fun new tutorial to share!