Now that we’ve made it past the Turkey, stuffing, and plethora of pies – were there just a ton of pies this Thanksgiving, or is it just me? We can ease our slightly more padded bodies into the epic Holiday Season which basically spans the entire month of December – where we eat, drink, and be merry into early January, spending quality time with friends and family.
This year would not be complete without the end of year marathon hours of gaming during our well earned downtime – so let’s do a quick round up and MASH UP of games we recommend and highlight for kids, families, and friends.
The classic version is covered in my list of best strategy board games, and I played this version at a board game convention, where I lost to a 12 year old, and enjoyed it! There’s a few variations in this version for 2-3 players only however the majority of the game stays the same. Bonus – besides the snowy board, learn the Nordic countries as you build your trains and railroads!
2 – The Hygge Game
Did you see all the books about Hygge that have come out over the past 2 or 3 years? The Hygge game warms you the same way as the books, and makes you crave cocoa, and fleecy blankets in front of a fire. The game doesn’t stray far from this theme- get to know your friends/family better by having cozy and pleasant conservation answering questions such as “What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten” or “Should students get to grade their teachers?” A great way to get to know your company for the evening more deeply.
Since this is one of my new favorite games, I would be remiss not to recommend the holiday edition as a great game for the holidays! With the cute llama art and special holiday llamas like “Gingerbread” llama and “Electric” llama – this game is a crowd pleaser, good for kids, adults, and co-workers, and easy to learn and set up and a TON of fun for anywhere between 2-8 players.
4 – Cat Lady
The designer Josh Wood plays at a local gaming group that I attend in Los Angeles, on occasion, and is as spectacular and phenomenal at board games as you would expect a top notch designer to be. This game has been front and center at almost every local board game store I’ve walked into this year and is a fun and dynamic set collecting game – perfect for a cup of tea or nog by fire with your fellow cat lover friends!
5 – Just Uno
This game won the Spiel de Jahres for a reason, so you can trust that for a decent sized group of all ages, this game will appeal to all. If you have an hour to kill before dessert, you can easily play a game of Just Uno. It’s similar to Taboo in that everyone takes a turn and it is a word game, but the similarity ends there as individuals write a hint on a board.
This is a super fun, throw it into the kitchen sink type of game, like many on our list of best party games – as self-described in the title of the game. If you want a type of game that might inspire some craziness or shock appeal, or truly cause confusion then you should buy this game. After playing it, I realized the name is completely accurate. It’s not for everyone, but perhaps for those who are willing to have an adventure and over the holidays.
7 – Wingspan
Another winner of the Spiel de Jahres award, this is a beautifully designed game, and for your permanent collection. Not only can you play a game that won one of 2 of the most prestigious board game awards, you can learn about birds and their habitats. This would also be an incredible Christmas gift, if you can find a copy. Any of the Stonemaier games will do.
8 – Sequence
I had to add this classic to the list as I always play this game around the holidays with my family. Designed in 1982, it’s held up over time because it’s fun, requires skill, and can be played by all ages – so absolutely a bridge game. It’s a bit Mahjong meets Rummikub on a board?
9 – Phase 10
Similar to Sequence, this is another easy classic and a card game that is good for all ages. It’s easy to learn, engaging, and fun for families. Meet all the ‘Phases’ by completing all of the necessary combinations on the list and win!
10 – Detective Club
Fairly new to the market, Detective Club is a fun game for kids or adults. The best comparison I can make is to one of my favorites from last year, Dixit. Detective Club is similar in that it has the same artsy cards which make up your hand, and the game rotates through each player, but the mechanic is slightly different in that the player must bluff their way through each round while others try to figure out who is the one faking the knowledge each round.
This would be more of a collector’s game, as most of the game and components are similar to the base and original version of the game, however, the snowy theme and gorgeous board do add an element of intrigue and bring that wintery theme to your doorstep. Not an inexpensive choice, though could be a good timely purchase if you don’t already own the original.
If you like legacy games and deck-building games, that build upon itself over several days and 10+ rounds of continued play and game campaigns, as the story changes and evolves (and need a gap to fill after Pandemic Legacy) this board game can be delivered to your doorstep during the break.