In today’s world we’ve been taken over by our smartphones. I’m the first to admit – I have an addition. Plus, when you use your smartphone to run your business, it’s easy to get caught up in endless hours of social media scrolling, Youtube videos and random articles.
But, this holiday season – I challenge you to….PLAY. Put down the phone and pick up a fun family game. Some of my favorite childhood memories involved game nights playing UNO, Skipbo, or my all time favorite – Sorry! As a mother now, I want to bring back those family nights and give my kids the gift of play and my undivided attention.
There’s one Chicagoan who I’d like to introduce you to who’s keeping the importance of PLAY and innovation alive – and her name is Mary Couzin. I met Mary a year ago and was instantly inspired by her. Not only has she been inventing games for the last 25 years, but she has made it her mission to promote Chicago as the leading toy and game inventing capitol of the world. She took her philosophy of play teaches us how to socially interact with each other and her passion for toy and game invention and founded ChiTag. Chitag is America’s largest toy and game fair and it’s celebrating its 15 year anniversary this November.
Chitag brings experienced and new toy and game inventors from around the world to share their inventions with YOU. Chitag also has an awards gala which celebrates inventors and awards TAGIEs to young and experienced inventors for their creations. The categories range from: Top Inventor of the Year to Young Inventor to even Top Marketing Teams. You can see who is up for these prestigious awards and even cast your vote for your favorite finalist here.
I met several of the local finalist this week, and my favorite in the Young Inventor of the Year category was Olivia Wasilewski and Brynna Siewers for their game, Ship of Treasures. Ship of Treasures was voted the best game from among 125 finalists in a special international challenge for young inventors. These young ladies also mentioned that 10% of the proceeds from the sales of their game were being donated to Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in honor of their friend who passed away from cancer.
Here are some other local Chicagoland toy inventors on the finalist list for a coveted TAGIE award:
Brady Peterson, for Rising Star of the Year for Groovy Blocks (Mindware)
Joyce Sprau, for Rising Star of the Year for Flower Fairies Secret Garden (Ultimate Source)
Ruth Green-Synowic, for Toy Inventor of the Year for Paint-Sation (Goliath Games)
I encourage you to check out all the inventors and we’d love for you to join us at ChiTag this year at Navy Pier, November 18 & 19th. Get your tickets here.
Bring the family and let’s celebrate play and innovation together!
Writer / Author / Inflencer at Huffington Post & Hearst Digital Media
Holly Rust is a native Texan currently living in the great city of Chicago with her husband and two sons. Aside from chasing around two lunatic boys all day, she is a writer, author, and entrepreneur. Her blog was featured on The TODAY Show’s List of Funniest Parents on Facebook. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, Hearst Digital Media, Scary Mommy, GenYize, Dot Complicated, The TODAY Parenting Team and many more. You can also find her essays published in several anthologies. Follow her random thoughts on Facebook and Twitter – but no judging.