The holidays are a time for cherishing the ones you love while ruthlessly trying to kick some asses at board games, right? Whether you’re spending an afternoon with your kids or getting rowdy with all your cousins and Aunt Peggy, games are a great way to make memories while also unleashing your inner competitor. And if you’re as sick of Monopoly as I am, here are a few games to add to your collection.
Created by two moms looking for a way to foster creative and active play, Silly Street gets kids moving and thinking. After moving through the board, the winner leads everyone in a dance party. What’s not to love about a game ending in a dance party?
This is a favorite game among my family and friends, and the current go-to when my husband and I have friends over. Players divide into two teams of spies, and give clues to their teammates to find the group of cards that belongs to their team. Codenames is the most fun to play with those you have inside jokes with and anyone who can find a word to link the words “engine,” “Germany,” and “penguin” (sounds weird, I know, but you’ll understand what I mean when you play).
This adorable game is a perfect introduction to strategy games. Or as I fondly refer to them when my husband’s friends descend upon my home, nerd games. Instead of battles and trade wars, Takenoko is a game where the objective is making sure a cute pet panda is fed. Players need to make decisions about their land and the panda. Completing objectives earns you points so your panda stays fat and happy.
This game is kind of like Spot It! with its own special twist. Each card features an impeccably dressed anthropomorphic hipster animal, and every single card has exactly one thing in common with every other card in the deck. The object is to find the similarity, but there are multiple versions of the game.
Another favorite in my house, Time’s Up can lead to some hilarious memories among friends and family. Think charades, with a twist.
Pit has been around longer than my right to vote and is the Black Friday of card games. It’s loud, frenzied, fast, and loud again. It begins and ends with a satisfying bell ring and in the middle is spastic trading in an effort by each player to “corner the market” on a specific commodity.
Doodle Quest involves trusting your eye to guide your pen in drawing challenges. This game is loads of fun and can be played with a group or even as a single player.
Sequence for Kids is a great beginner’s strategy game for young children. It’s a fun way to practice animals and creating sequencing too — so you can feel good about what your little ones are learning too.
With Dixit, a board is placed on the table and each player is dealt a hand of cards. Players try to match cards by describing them in as little or as much detail as they want.
Themed after a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, players get points for the “sushi” they make with cards in their hand. You can stack nigiri and hoard pudding and even boost your score with some wasabi before tallying up your totals and declaring a winner.
If Takenoko is intro to strategy games, 7 Wonders is the graduate program. Players need to gather resources, create trading routes, and establish dominance as a military force among several ancient cities. The goal is to build your city into an architectural wonder and for the other cities to look like tiny fools next to you.
You’ve played the classics. And played them. And played them. They are played. Branch out and establish yourself as Master of Fun at your next gathering by busting one of these bad babies out. They’re sure to become staples and are a great distraction from Uncle John’s MAGA hat.
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