Family life · Lists

5 Board Games You Should Try

The holidays are a-comin’. You can’t escape it. Already our local Costco has Christmas trees out (because, why not, it’s OCTOBER 23…?!).

We’re going to have a totally fantastic Advent devotional series coming up here on the ol’ blog. Writers from around the country will be joining me for daily guest posts. Christmas won’t come here until it comes. First, Advent.

But since we can’t escape the cultural get-in-the-holiday-spirit push, even before Halloween hits, you may be thinking about gifts. And if you’re anything like me, when you think about gifts, you think about games.

I come from a game-playing family. It’s what we do. From the knock-down, drag-out Monopoly Junior fights with my younger sisters in the ’80s to today’s very serious games of Seafarers of Catan, I love a good game.

Looking for a game (or a gift?) this holiday season? Here are some we’ve tried out that have stood the test of time.

[As always, this post is not sponsored in any way, shape, or form. I’m making $0 from this blog and there are no affiliate links. I’m simply sharing games we’ve found enjoyable, in case you’re searching for a fun new game this holiday season. Because I love games and I love you. So there.]

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Board Game Geek
  1. Carcassone

This is a great multi-player game that doesn’t take hours to finish. It’s creative, engaging, and different every time, yet simple enough a 10-year old would enjoy it. You and your fellow players build the board as you go, and often it’s not clear who has won until the very final points have been tallied.

2-5 players. 20-30 minutes. Ages 8+.

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Board Game Geek

2. Codenames

If you love word games, you’ll love Codenames. To win you must get your team to find similarities between different words on an ever-changing game board while avoiding the one word that will trigger an assassin (i.e., an automatic loss). What do Jupiter, octopus, and lemons have in common? I don’t know, but if you want to win Codenames, you’d better figure it out.

2-8 players. 15 minutes. Ages 14+.

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Board Game Geek

3. Settlers of Catan

An oldie but a goodie. If you’ve missed this one but love strategy and cutthroat play, give it a try this holiday season. Warning: if you are über competitive, you will either love this, or you’ll end the evening without being on speaking terms with your family. Settlers gets serious.

If you love Settlers but haven’t tried any of the expansions, our favorite by far is Cities and Knights. Book yourself a couple of hours, read the fifteen-page instruction manual, and join us in the land of the nerds.

2-4 players. 1 hour (though, in my experience, it usually takes an hour and a half…). Age 12+.

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Board Game Geek

4. Pandemic

OH MY GOSH, WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. That’s the basic premise for the game Pandemic. A nasty virus is spreading around the globe, and you and your friends need to be wise, strategic, and lucky enough to stop it.

Unlike the other games above, this one is collaborative. You need to survive the Pandemic together. So either you all win or you all die gruesome deaths, along with the rest of humanity, making this game pretty perfect for family or friend bonding.

2-4 players. 45 minutes. Age 10+.

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Board Game Geek

 5. Exploding Kittens

This is a fast-paced, funny, creative card game where you have to (you guessed it) keep from drawing an exploding kitten card. The artwork is cartoony and hilarious, and the game gives you plenty of opportunities to mess with the other players by peeking at cards, shuffling the deck, and skipping their turns.

I played this with my 8-year-old niece and had a blast, and then played with her parents after she went to bed for the night, and had an equal amount of fun. It’s great for older kids, fun for adults, and each round is fairly quick.

Warning: There is a NSFW (Not Safe for Work) edition of this game I haven’t played. I’m guessing it’s pretty inappropriate, so steer clear, and be sure you purchase the RED box if you’re getting this for your kiddos.

2-5 players. 15 minutes. Age 7+.


Okay, it’s your turn! What’s a game you play that you love? I’d love to pick up a new one for this holiday season!

Stay tuned for next Monday’s 5 Great Games for Kids. 

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