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Favorite Board Games for the Holidays

This past week I asked my son what he was looking most forward to during the Christmas break. He said “Skiing”, and “I hope Santa brings us a new board game”. Getting a new game on Christmas has become one of our Holiday traditions and I was thrilled to hear that he was looking forward to enjoying that time together as a family.

Since the holidays are perfect for breaking out some raucous cold weather entertainment, I thought I would share a few of our favorites over the years.

Probably the most requested and played game we own is Ticket to Ride. With elegantly simple game play, the game is very easy to learn. Recommended ages are 8 and up and 2-5 players can play at one time so it is perfect for our family. As we’ve played this over the years we’ve loved that the game can grow with the ages of your children. Older players enjoy more strategic and tactical decisions every turn. An award-winning game that lives up to the hype.

Blokus is another favorite. It appealed to our kids when they were as young as 5, and to my husband and I as well. There aren’t a lot of games that can span that age gap (believe me!)

Blokus is strategic, competitive, and really fun. My husband and son play to block their opponents, my girls and I play to keep our options open. Does this say anything about Mars vs. Venus?

Either way you play, this is an addicting game. The only drawback is you can only have up to 4 players, so someone always has to sit out…usually a parent.

Sleeping Queens is another family favorite. Take one look at the box and you might think this game only appeals to the feminine members of my family. Not so. My husband and son enjoy it just as much as the girls. Playing this game, you might be amazed that it was invented by a 6 year old girl! I am. It is clever and fun and one of our first choices for many a game night. It can be played with 2 to 5 players which is perfect for our family.

We’ve loved playing Qwirkle. Game play is sort of like dominoes… or Scrabble, but Qwirkle can be played and enjoyed by young and old.

Last December I walked in the door after a looooong day of working with my mom to see my husband and kiddos sitting in a circle looking like the photo above.

I had been up and out the door at 5:00 am and it was now 6:30 pm. I took one look at my family and laughed myself silly. They were playing the game Hedbanz, a gift that had just been delivered that evening from a friend.

That’s not the first time I’ve laughed hard while playing Hedbanz. Our family loves to play. The object of the game is to stick a card in your headband without looking at it, then ask questions to help you guess what you are before the sand timer runs out. The first person that guesses three cards wins the game. The cards are objects, food or animals. Playing with kids can get interesting when you are something like a hamburger and ask “Am I an animal?” and they all say yes… you can spend a lot of time not realizing that you were an animal.

We received Bananagrams as a gift and love it. It’s a crossword game where each player is racing to use up all their tiles to win the game. I love that even younger kids (beginning spellers) can play (though not competitively with an adult) and it really helps their spelling skills as well as strategy. It comes in the small and handy banana bag you see, which means it’s a perfect game to take on vacation. We spent some fun evenings playing it at our family’s Ranch vacation this past summer.

Quiddler is awesome. Our kids have finally got the hang of it. It’s still enough of a challenge though, that its not usually their first pick to play.

The object is to use all the letter cards in your hand to create words. Each card has a point value that gets added if it’s used in a word and subtracted if it doesn’t. Each round you receive one more card and the game gets more interesting.

If you have older children, say 11 and up, or want a game to play with adults, I highly recommend Quiddler.

Some classics we still enjoy are Scrabble, Clue, Rummikub and Uno.

I know time is short, but we are looking for a great new game this year. Any ideas??

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20 Responses to “Favorite Board Games for the Holidays”

  • Yay! We need a new game. Although we have quite a few of the ones you mentioned (that we also really like), there are a few new ones I’ll be checking out. Thanks, Calli!

  • Lora:

    I love this tradition, and the game recommendations/reviews. Thanks for sharing! The Headbanz family night would have cracked me up, too :)

  • KerryQ:

    Great suggestions! Thanks. We have started a weekly Wednesday game night. We’ve been doing a lot of charades and poor man’s pictionary (a.k.a. I print out a list of seasonal vocab words and we use the kid’s white board easel.). They love it. Some new games would be a fun addition.

  • Ticket To Ride is our family’s favourite game! Our kids are all 20 plus and we play it quite a few times during the year…starting years back! We now have the expansion pack for it which makes it even more challenging and adds another element of fun!

  • Tracy:

    Without a doubt our favorite is a card game called Dutch Blitz. I just wish my reflexes were as fast as my now-grown kids…I can almost never win!

  • Paula:

    We love Perpetual Commotion and Farkle. This year I bought Suspend. It seems fun.

  • Janet:

    We have played Settlers of Catan. It is a good game for kids as young as 4 (some help from someone at this age). We play it with adults when they come over. It is very adaptable. In the game you are settling the island of Catan. Players collect resources from the island and then trade with each other to create and civilize the island. If you put 2 games together you can play with up to 8. Very good game.

  • Melanie Pocock:

    We love all of those (haven’t tried Quiddler yet, but looks promising). Besides those, our favorites are Bohnanza, Dominion, and Settlers of Catan.

  • Sharon Scott:

    My two girls, ages 7 & 8 LOVE Headbanz! Whenever they get together with their cousins, this game is out. And, it’s just not for kids. When we get together with our adult friends and family, this game is a lot of fun shared over a bottle (or two!) of wine. :) But we don’t tell the kids that!

  • We love games too – Quiddler was a Huge favorite and has been for years…still is, even though the kids are now grown. Dutch Blitz and Set are a couple of others that are family favorites.

  • Nancy:

    Apples to Apples Jr. is a great game. It will keep adults interested, too! I teach 4th grade and this is a game kids bring in all the time. I’v played with them several times and it’s always fun.

  • LeAnne:

    Have you ever played Fibber or Would You Rather? My daughter LOVES to ask Would You Rather questions. It’s fun to hear everyone’s responses… and surprising too.

    • Calli:

      Ha, those sound like they could both be fun! My husband is a master at telling only enough as is essentially required, so he may be TOO good at Fibber! Thanks for the ideas.

  • Our favourite game is also the Settlers of Catan! Especcially since we have the “add-ons” (can you say that? if not, then im sorry, but i’m german :S (; )
    But we also like to play Carcassonne. There you build a landscape during the game and get points for finishing streets and cities… It’s really fun and you don’t need to arrange the whole playing field, as you need in Catan. So it also saves time :D

  • April:

    I love board games. Quelf is a really fun one. Its easy and the rules change through out the game. Its just a really goofy game.

  • Jessica:

    Pit for sure. Fun game, fast, loud and crazy. For all ages, up to 3-8 ppl i think. Gme as old as dirt, but still around and tons of fun. Players try to get all 10 of their cards to be the same item by trading cards. they don’t show the other players their cards, instead they yell out how many of that kind they have. for example, if a person has 2 barley, and they want something else, they yell out two two two, until another person has two of the same kind to trade as well. then they face down trade the cards. when someone finally gets all the same kind, they yell corner pocket and hit the bell in the middle of the table. lots of fun, not expensive, and great for a group your family’s size.
    can last as long as you want, and optional bad/good wild cards to play. i highly record it. another great game that you only need a deck of cards for is squares. LOVE that game. played with people of all ages.

    Good luck and have fun!

  • maggie:

    The best new game ever!!! Grandson (12), aunts and uncles 25-30,and parents to grandparents (60) with a granddaughter (7) who helped, had a laughter filled evening playing a board game called “Quelf”. The directions are easy….just draw a card and “obey the card”, it is hilarious and fun for everyone. We started laughing at the first card drawn and didn’t quit laughing. We are all still talking about it. I would recommend this game to everyone! It will leave you smiling and enjoying time spent together.

  • Amy:

    We love Mexican train, played with double twelve dominoes, my 6 year old is a fairly good player. We also love Sequence, my 6 year old plays that with us as well. Just discovered your site from Pinterest. As a new sewer, I’m a big fan!

  • Jamie:

    We get together for family game night as often as possible. It’s myself, my husband, teenage son, and my parents. Our adult daughter looks forward to these nights whenever she visits.

    Our longtime favorites were Hoopla by Cranium and Apples to Apples, but this year we discovered Quelf and it quickly became the BEST game EVER. We still walk around saying things like “you’ve thwarted me again you vile beast!” or “triangle, the other white meat” then erupt into laughter and hilarious gestures. I highly recommend Quelf, and it is a game that the whole family can play and enjoy!

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