When we were first married my husband and I made a goal that we wouldn’t be one of those married couples that no one ever hears from again after the wedding. We wanted to stay connected to our single friends and continue to create new relationships. We found the best way to do that was through games and food.
My husband and I love to have people over to play games and eat food. It is one of our absolutely favorite things to do together. We like laughing and talking smack and the connection that food has the ability to create between people.
As our family has grown, the tradition has spilled over into our children. We have marathon board game sessions with our kids on a regular basis and they play games with each other daily. In fact, one of their uncles taught them a new game at a family function and commented, “wow, your kids sure know their way around a board game,” because of the ease with which they grasped the rules. David and I were so proud. 🙂
Games make a great gift. Each year Santa brings our kids a new game. My husband and I have a tradition where I give him a new game on Christmas Eve and we play it together that night. We give them to our siblings as gifts as well. So here are my suggestions based on the age and interest level of your loved one.
Best Games If You Don’t Think You Like Board Games
We don’t meet tons of people who like board games as much as us (except our favorite friends the Biggs!) but we often encounter people who think a board game means Monopoly and we can rock their world by showing them that games can actually be fun.
This is actually not my favorite game because my husband has hacked it and always, always wins. However, it is a game that we have taught a lot of people and most people really enjoy. It is a game in which you build your own deck of cards. It’s fast-paced and doesn’t take forever and has a really good replay value because the game is different every time you play it.
A little apt this year, this is a cooperative board game, so great for people who don’t like the competitive nature of games. Cooperative, meaning you are all on the same team.
This game has a strong cooperative element and a more subjective feel. People who aren’t necessarily great at games usually will play this one and enjoy it. One player is the ‘ghost’ and tries to communicate from the other side using images. Play for the ghost character is a little bit complicated but for everyone else it is very easy, without complicated rules.
Best Games for Families
Playing games with young children can try anyone’s patience. Kids seem to take for-ever to play their turns and things can often end in tears. These games are fast paced, and have mechanics that take the sting out of losing.
My kids love SushiGo. Everyone’s turn is played simultaneously but the rules are straightforward enough that even my five year old can play without help. The points are calculated at the end of the game, which helps avoid frustration mid-play.
This game is a gem. As the title suggests, it takes literally five minutes to play (because after that you’re out of time) and it is cooperative which means either everyone wins or everyone loses. It is essentially a matching game, which means it works for pre-readers as well. I also noticed that they have a Marvel version out now if the fantasy skin is a little much for you.
This is a secret identity deduction game. I like it because even if your identity is revealed you can still win points which has eliminated some angst. The kids really love it and beg to play constantly. It’s a little more complicated and slow placed.
In this game you draw a picture and pass it around the circle. Players alternately guess what the picture is or draw the last person’s guess until it goes around to the beginning player. It gets a little silly but the kids love it and I recommend it for large families or as a party game.
Games the Kids Can Play Without You
When my youngest was four he learned all the rules of chess from playing this game with his sister, who was six. Now they can probably both beat you. I have no idea why it works so well but it really does. If you are an adult who has no idea how to play chess, this game would be great for you too.
We have been through two copies of this game, it is so well loved. Everyone who comes over will play it. Sometimes they won’t even use the rules, they’ll just happily make different cupcake combinations. It really captures their imagination.
There are two versions of this game. The other one is from Ravensburger and it is also excellent. This one has some extra cool components that make the game seem absolutely magical, but it involves small metal balls and strong magnets so it’s not the best for very young kids who are likely to lose pieces.
Best Two Player Games – for date night
The most important criteria for these, at least in our house, is that it’s balanced and the same person doesn’t always win.
This is a card and resource management game. You “buy” cards to play on your side of the table and at the end the person with the most points wins. It’s surprisingly well-balanced. This game cannot be played with more than two people.
Playing with the colorful tiles that come with this game is the best part. You make a pattern on your board and earn points for different combinations. It’s delightful. It can be played with up to 5 people, but works great with just two as well.
This is another resource management game with cards. You are fighting over the same set of cards, so it’s a little competitive but we haven’t ever gotten into a huge fight about it. 😉 This one you can play with up to four players.
Games That Are a Little More Complex
Do you like board games? Are you comfortable learning new rules? Looking to take your collection up a notch?
I love this game. There’s farming, there’s worker placement, there’s that frustrating moment when you realize that you could really use another round or two. It’s kind of a time commitment, but it’s worth it.
This is a legacy game, meaning you make permanent changes to the game as you play it. It has a storyline that takes place over twelve games, then you have to buy a recharge pack if you want to play it more after that. The catch is you really should play it with the same people all twelve times.
This fascinating game is a play once and your done type deal, however it has multiple episodes and they come out with more all the time. It’s kind of escape-room-esque. Very difficult and very fun.
Best Overall Games
This is just a great all around game. It is a card game in which you pick a card from your hand to play and then pass it to the next player. That’s the whole game. You score points based off combinations of your cards and your neighbors cards. It’s fast paced and can be played with up to seven people.
This is my current favorite game. The art is beautiful. It’s extremely relaxing. It’s not super competitive. You just play different beautiful birds into your play area. There are lots of different ways to score points and it’s extremely well-balanced. Everyone we have taught it to loves it.
And there you go. I would absolutely love to give you a game recommendation if you are looking for something specific. Just leave a comment. Also please tell me your favorite board games! We’re always looking for new games to try out.