Many people will be coming together in the next several weeks for holiday gatherings. While eating tons of food and catching up with friends and family are fun, don’t let the celebration culminate with your uncle falling asleep on the couch. Instead, we highly recommend planning some family game time to liven things up and keep the celebration going.
Whether those gatherings are in person or online via video chat, there are tons of ways to play that fit every age, family size, and gathering style. Here are a few of our favorite ways to play for every situation!
For Board Game Lovers In Person
Do you have a family that loves a good board game? Maybe you have some super competitive cousins or an aunt that just hates to lose? Pick up a few quick-to-learn games that accommodate a bigger crowd.
If you’re looking to play against each other, try Carcassonne, Splendor, Dominion, or Azul. If you want to keep things a little more cooperative, try opting for Pandemic, Horrified, The Crew, or The Mind.
For Board Game Lovers Online
If you’re gathering the family over Zoom this year, you’re going to need some games that are easy to play online. Luckily there are a number of games that require little or no physical game elements, that still offer a fun experience for board game lovers.
If you want to stick to something a little more classic with fewer elements, try Scattergories, Yahtzee, Codenames, Telestrations, or Pictionary.
If someone in your gathering has a copy of the game, there are a number of board games that work great with a simple video chat setup (cooperative games work best for this). Try Pandemic, Hanabi, Forbidden Island, or we’ve even made Betrayal at House on the Hill work!
Some game publishers have even put out resources to help coordinate online gaming with shared and downloadable resources.
Also, don’t forget there’s a wealth of board games that have been made into apps as well as free and paid tabletop simulators online. We have tons more helpful advice for playing games with friends afar on our pandemic games blog post.
For Light Board Gamers in Person
Not every gathering is made up of people who just LOVE learning new games. And that’s perfectly OK. For the lighter gamers among us that don’t want a 20 page rulebook but still want to have some fun, here are a few excellent choices.
Try breaking out easy but fun favorites like Sushi Go, Ticket to Ride, or Kingdomino to get people having fun with very little setup.
Party games are also a hit for gatherings and require basically no setup or rules. Think along the lines of Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme, Joking Hazard, Exploding Kittens, or Uno.
For Light Board Gamers Online
Luckily there are quite a few lighter board games that also work online.
For those with a physical copy (or two) of the game, try games like Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme, or Guess Who (shake it up with superlatives for extra fun), and some of those that we mentioned above like Scattergories, Yahtzee, Codenames, Telestrations, or Pictionary.
A lot of these games also have online versions or online copycats. The website cardgames.io offers classic card games. The free Houseparty app has a handful of fun knockoff games along the lines of Chips and Guac (Cards Against Humanity), Heads Up, Trivia, and Quick Draw. And again, reference our pandemic gaming blog post for more platforms with free-to-play online games.
For Non Board Gamers
We get it. Not everyone even likes games. Especially board games. In that case, there are still options.
A great place to start is jigsaw puzzles. There are tons to choose from and keep you busy for hours. In fact, we have tons in stock in our store right now. And if you’re local, we offer free delivery.
Other winners at gatherings for those less inclined to enjoy classic games are Bingo, Charades, or even Jackbox (which is perfect for online play as well as in-person).
Also, has your family tried an RPG like D&D? Though they may not be for everyone, there are plenty of themed, self-contained versions that might entice the skeptics, like the Stranger Things module.
For Gatherings with Lots of Kids
And let’s not forget gatherings with lots of the little ones. Just because there are kids around doesn’t mean you can only play Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders. There are other great options, too.
Think along the lines of Apples to Apples, Ticket to Ride First Journey, What Do You Meme Family Edition, Ice Cool, First Orchard, or even Dixit.
Really, there’s no reason you should be having a boring family gathering this Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Friendsgiving, or whatever you’re celebrating. There’s literally something fun for everyone.
And just because this year might be a little different (thanks, 2020), it doesn’t mean those traditions of family game time have to change. Happy holidays and happy gaming!