We love sitting round playing board games in this house but for some reason we don’t do it nearly enough. Since becoming a member of the Blogger Board Game Club we’ve been making more of an effort and after the last BlogOn Conference I got to try out some more great games too.
The one time of year when we really make an effort with board games is Christmas. Once the presents have been opened and the dinner has been eaten we tend to sit round the table with a few boxes of chocolates and biscuits (and the odd glass of wine) and play games. It’s possibly my favourite part of the whole day. This year we have a much better stocked game cupboard and I thought I’d share with you my top 10. Some of these games are ones we’ve owned a while and love, some I was sent for review earlier in the year and some I was sent specifically for this guide(*), but only after I’d already played them at BlogOn and requested them, so you can be assured they have all been tried and tested and loved.
I’ve found that a lot of board games are aimed at older kids (6+) but this one is perfect for the younger ones. We reviewed it earlier in the year (Bunny Jump Game Review) and my 3yr old daughter absolutely loved it, and still does. Think Pop-Up Pirate but instead of a pirate its a bunny, and instead of swords in a barrel it’s carrots in a hill. Bunny Jump has been a definite hit in our house.
This is another game I tried out at BlogOn and it’s a lot harder than it looks. The rules are extremely simple, you take it in turns to place one of your white balls onto the suspended cluster of coloured balls. Whoever stacks the most before it gives way is the winner. Tumball is a great game for helping kids with their hand-eye coordination.
This is fast paced card game that can be quickly picked up by all ages. All cards have 8 pictures on them but each card will have only one picture in common. The five different games you can play all revolve around finding the matching pictures between your card and an opponents. You can read my full review here – Dobble: A Great Card Game For All The Family. We love Dobble and took it away with us on our last holiday and we’ll be taking it again on our next one.
This is another quick thinking card game that comes in a handy tin ideal for travel. The rules are easy and quick to pick up but younger kids may struggle due to the nature of it. It gives a recommended age of 6+ and I’d say that’s about right. Each card has a category (could be a person, place or thing) such as ‘toy’ or ‘bird’ as well as a letter in the middle. You have to be the first one to say a word that fits the category on the first card but starts with the letter on the second card. Whoever says it first gets to keep that card. At the end, the winner is the one with the most cards. We found Name That really fun and it helps get those brain cells firing too.
I saw this game being demonstrated at the BlogOn conference back in September and had a quick go with the PR representing it. I knew straight away that it would be a hit. It’s a simple enough game, all you have to do is stack cups according to their colour, but it can be very confusing when you’re trying to be as fast a possible to beat your opponent. You see, you’re matching the colour of the cup to the colour of the spot on top of the last cup played and it can easily trip you up. Initially my son thought it sounded ‘lame’ but then I challenged him to a match and he soon changed his mind. Although L is too young to quite grasp it at speed she does have fun putting the matching cups back into a pile again at the end of each game. I can see Staccups being a hit with the over-competitive adults too, especially after a tipple or two.
UNO is great old classic and we’ve been playing it for years. It’s our all time favourite and we always take it on holiday with us. A couple of years ago my son discovered that you could get other versions and UNO Roboto was top of his Christmas list. It’s exactly the same game with the same deck of cards etc, but you each say your name into the Robot before you start as well as a ‘house rule’ (can be anything you decide, like sing a certain song, or do a funny dance). Every time you take a turn you press the Robot so it knows you’ve moved on. Then, at completely random intervals the Robot will shout house rule and everyone has to do it, or it will issue a challenge to two players and the last to do it has to pick up extra cards. It adds a new fun twist and M loves giving everyone silly nicknames at the start.
This was another gift a couple of years ago that was a big hit. Whoever makes it across the board to the fridge first is the winner but there are perils along the way that could ‘wake Dad’ and send you back to the start. Don’t Wake Dad is a simple game but lots of fun for younger kids who will get a kick out of seeing you sent back and wondering when Dad will wake and jump up in bed.
This is another game we reviewed last month (Ticket To Ride Board Game Review) and has fast become one of our all time favourites. The basic premise is that each player has cards with routes on and they need to try and claim those routes by placing their trains on them, but they need to collect enough of the correct coloured train cards first. The first player to complete six routes is the winner. There’s a little bit more strategy to it than some of the other games I’ve listed but not so much that it would put kids at a disadvantage when playing against adults. In fact my son and I are pretty evenly matched with our wins, not that we’re keeping count, much ;). While Ticket To Ride is aimed at kids 6+, younger kids could easily help out if you played in teams.
Another old classic that seems to be seeing a bit of a resurgence at the moment, Pass The Pigs is a simple as it gets. You throw the pigs and they way they land determines your score, the first player to 100 points is the winner. Of course there are twists and you can choose to gamble by throwing again and getting a higher score but if they land the wrong way you could be sent back to zero. The handy little case makes it another perfect travel game too. As part of the resurgence you can also now get Pass The Pigs Pig Party which has 8 pigs and a set of 30 cards with different positions. Players take it in turn to try and match the position on the cards and the first to do so gets the points listed on the card. There is also a Giant Pass The Pigs which uses large inflatable pigs in place of the usual small plastic ones. This would make a great garden game in the summer months.
Suitable for age 12+ this is one to play when the younger children have gone to bed. With this game each card has a mystery person, place or thing and ten clues. As the clues are read out one by one the players shout out as soon as they know the answer. The first to answer correctly moves their piece one place closer to being the ‘Smart Ass’. This is a really fun game and with over 500 questions you can get through a fair few games before they start repeating. Smart Ass would be a great game to play with teenagers as we all know they are the ultimate smart asses anyway, now they can prove it ;).
So there you have it, our top ten favourite family games. Have you played any of these? Which games would top your list?
Disclaimer – I was gifted some of these games in exchange for inclusion (*) but all thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links in accordance with my disclosure policy.