With dollars tighter than ever for many families this holiday season, some parents are putting an increased focus on choosing toys and games that fulfill several of their children's needs in a single package, at a single price.

"We're a big game family," says Holly Jackson, a Knoxville mother of three. "In the past, I'd buy several new board or card games for my kids each year. I'd think, 'Well, this one looks fun, and that one looks educational, and this one is pure action,' and I'd buy them all. This year we can't afford to do that, so I'm looking for individual games that fit our needs on several fronts."

Two new multi-appeal games that play well across a broad range of ages are Simpatico Board Game and Pile it Card Game from Funstreet, Inc. (www.funstreetgames.com).

"Part of what people like about Simpatico is that it's fun, quick, and it's a thinking game," says Karen Ansen, a specialty toy store owner in Ames, IA. "You have to think ahead a little bit to the consequences of your move or there's a good chance you'll blunder and lose points. Pile it, on the other hand, while it uses your brain in several ways, doesn't allow time to think. It moves like lightning and uses lots of hand-eye coordination."

In Simpatico, each player's turn starts with nine cards face up on the board, with the object being to move as many cards as possible to the top row by finding cards that match each other's attributes. Pile it is a card game in which players race to flip and sort their cards into separate piles on the table according to criteria that varies with each round.

For a list of stores that carry Simpatico and Pile it in your area, e-mail dan@funstreetgames.com or call (800) 901-9820.

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