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10 Best Board Games For Family Bonding This Holiday Season

Your whole family can get in on the fun this year.

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The gifts have been given, the food has been eaten, and now you and your family are sitting around wondering what to do next. Well, since you’re all there, why not go for a good old fashioned game night? We’ve rounded up some of our favorite board games perfect for family bonding this holiday season, because eggnog and cookies will only go so far.

Finding the right game for a social setting can be a challenge. You want something easy but not boring. Something the little kids can play, but so can grandpa. You want the game to provide a nice diversion, but not go on so long you’re going to lose impatient players along the way. We've also tried to choose games that even when they're competitive are so fun the competition comes second to the fun. (We understand that this can be difficult in Type-A families, but we tried out best.) And while we list these all as "board games," full disclosure that some are card games. One is even an app. But, like board games, they all provide engaging (mostly) screen-free entertainment.

We’ve tested out all of these games ourselves and whether you have a big loud Christmas or a subdued Hanukkah with just your immediate family, these games are going to be a hit.

Slumberkins Feelings Adventure

Oh no! All the feelings have disappeared in the Slumberkins Feelings Forest. Players take on the roles of Bigfoot, Unicorn, Yak, and Fox to gather the feelings and bring them to the Feelings Tree in the heart of the woods. This cooperative game helps your family’s youngest players (ages 3 to 6) identify and talk about their feelings through affirmations, questions, and calming movements and stretches.

We love this game any time, but considering how chaotic this time of year can be, we especially love this as a fun outlet for kids to learn how to cope with some of the emotions that might be popping up a bit more during the holiday season.

Happy Salmon

This raucous game is an absolute must for holiday gatherings — the more players the better. Each person is dealt a hand of cards with a series of instructions on them (High Five, “Fish Bump,” Switch It Up, and “Happy Salmon”). But here’s the problem: in order to perform the action, you need a partner to join you. To do this, you call out your action and wait for someone with the same card to pair their’s up with your’s. If no one can, put that card on the bottom of your deck and move on to the next.

“But wait,” you ask, “Doesn’t that mean everyone is shouting all at once? Doesn’t that get chaotic?”

Extremely, but in the best possible way, which feels like a general metaphor for the holidays.

Complete all your cards first and you win.

Gimme That!

This game couldn’t be simpler, or more boisterously fun. The goal is simple — be the first person to count 100 potatoes on your sheet of paper — but doing it is anything but. You see, everyone has a piece of paper, but there’s only one pencil.

As if that weren’t challenging enough, the player to your left is rolling a die with lots of distracting instructions, including making lots of noise with high fives and fist bumps, banging the table, and even switching papers (so one minute you’re writing 47 on one paper only to have that replaced with another that’s up to 13). When they roll the die and it lands on the pencil image, they scream “Gimme that!” and start working on their own sheet. The die is passed and the process starts over again. Whoever gets to 100 first is declared “Spud King” and gets a sticker.

I speak from experience when I say that this game is lots of fun to play at a big gathering, making it the perfect holiday bonding game: family members from 6 to 86 have had a blast playing together. Who knew counting potatoes could get so boisterous?

The Fuzzies

This simple game is great for if you’re short on time (each game lasts about 10 minutes) or if you just want something straight-forward but challenging. In this came, “the fuzzies” are stacked in a highly unstable tower and you draw cards to see what color you need to remove and replace. You can remove it from anywhere as long as it was higher after your turn than it was before. The game ends once the tower tumbles down. It’s a favorite for hardcore gamers and beginners alike.

Head’s Up

This game is, in my experience, already a favorite at holiday gatherings, but we would still be remiss not to remind you of it. In Heads Up, which can be found on the App Store or wherever you get your apps, one player holds their phone to their forehead as other players give them clues about the word displayed. If they get it, they tip the phone down to move on to the next clue. If they want to skip, they just tip it up. The person with the most points at the end wins though, to be honest, you don’t have to play for points to have a great time with this.

Monopoly Cheater’s Edition

Can I be real with you real quick? Monopoly — regular Monopoly, anyway — is seriously overrated. It takes forever and it gets boring pretty quick. More than that, someone always ends up getting annoyed and bailing early. But Monopoly Cheaters Edition is not only a shorter game, it’s also way more fun because it encourages being sneaky. Try to pull one over on your fellow players by completing the tricky challenges listed on the cheat cards. If you get caught, you get cuffed.

Throw Throw Burrito

In this high-spirited game, you’re trying to make matches with cards constantly passed around the table. But it’s not all card trading, because some of the cards mean a duel, war, or brawl is about to take place, which consists of grabbing and throwing adorable foam burritos at your opponents. Fast-paced and loads of fun, there will be plenty of giggles when you bring this game out after your holiday meal.

Poetry For Neanderthals

In this game, players have to get their team mates to guess what they’re talking about. You can say anything you want to get them to guess. Sounds easy right? There’s a catch. Like our stereotypical caveman forebears, you can only speak in words with one syllable. Utter more than one syllable at a time you not only lose the point but someone from the other team gets to club you over the head. (Don’t worry: the club is inflatable.) There’s no rule that says you have to skip propositions and articles or that you have to speak in a caveman voice, but we strongly recommend it as it tends to add to the hilarity. A perfect group game to get laughs this holiday season.

Creature Comforts

Most of the games we’ve chosen for this list are lively to boisterous and accommodate large crowds. But it is in fact possible to get some great family bonding this holiday season in a more subdued, cozy way, and this game is perfect for that.

You and your fellow players are woodland creatures preparing to hibernate for the winter. You’re not competing against each other, really, so much as you’re just running your own race to get a snuggly and cozy as possible before the end of the game. Gather soups and stews, books, cozy socks, and other snug little items to win. Honestly, the artwork on this game is so lovely just looking at it is a treat.

Double Ditto

This game is perfect for family bonding this holiday season because it encourages consensus. Choose a card (say “Dangerous Jobs”) and write down your answer (“Firefighter”). Earn points if other members of your team answered the same way you did. The more you’re on the same page, the more you’ll win.

Happy Gaming, everybody.