6 Board Games To Play With Your Family This Christmas

6 Board Games To Play With Your Family This Christmas
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Most families have a battered copy of Monopoly stashed at the back of the linen closet that gets pulled out during the Christmas gathering. Don’t play it.

Instead play one of these great games that are easy to learn, easy to play and – most importantly of all – really fun.

Modern board games can appear scary. There are so many rules, so many pieces. Why not fall back on to an old favourite? Because they games are simple, fun and about as scary as a ball of fluff. Give them a go and you’ll be rewarded with a great time.

Codenames – $32.90

Players: 2 – 8
Play time: 15 minutes
We’ve written about Codenames before and we’ll keep writing about it. One of the best communication games going around, Codenames pits two teams against each other as spymasters give clues to their teammates who are trying to guess words from a grid in front of them.

Easy to learn and easy to play, Codenames is ideal for family gatherings. Not only does the game give you plenty of opportunity to exploit in-jokes you’ve formed over years, you can (and should) endlessly heckle the other team as they try to decipher their spymaster’s clues.

A number of Codenames games have cropped up in the last few years including: Codenames: Duet, Codenames: Pictures, Codenames: Deep Undercover, Codenames: Marvel and Codenames: Disney Family Edition. There’s a version for everyone, except grinches that don’t like Codenames.

Sushi Go Party! – $37.75

Players: 2 – 8
Play time: 15 minutes
There are games that are cute and then there’s Sushi Go Party! A pick and pass game where everyone is dealt a hand of sushi with adorable faces and must choose one before passing their cards on to the next player. Each card has a different piece of sushi on it, with different point values. Once all of the cards have been picked, the round ends and everyone scores based on what’s in front of them.

Games of Sushi Go Party! are quick. You won’t sit there forever trying to decide between the card that’s worth three points now or the one that’s maybe worth five points later. No, you’re going to take the adorable sushi that looks like it would be friends with the rest of the sushi you’ve chosen.

Sushi Go Party! is an updated version of Sushi Go which adds a platter of new cards to choose from and lets players set the menu by choosing which sushi will be drafted that game. It’s a little fiddlier than the original but the increased choices are well worth it.

Qwirkle – $41.19

Players: 2 – 4
Play time: 45 minutes
Everyone knows how to play Scrabble but not everyone enjoys playing it. The vocabulary requirements make it difficult for young kids to keep up and there’s always that one person who knows all the two-letter words.

Qwirkle solves this problem by replacing the letter tiles with coloured shapes. Instead of forming words, you’re forming rows of a specific colour or shape. There’s no board or bonuses either, just placing tiles in an ever-sprawling grid across the table. Qwirkle strips Scrabble down to the bare basics and is a far more enjoyable game for it.

Plus the game gives you plenty of opportunities to say “Qwirkle” over and over again, which is far more fun than it should be.

The Resistance – $27.89

Players: 5 – 10
Play time: 30 minutes
People argue over Christmas. It’s tradition. If you’re going to argue, you may as well have a point to it. The Resistance is a social deduction game where players are secretly designated as heroes or villains and must work out which is which by going on missions. And arguing. Mostly arguing.

Suitable for five to ten players, The Resistance is a simple game where teams are selected to go on missions and pass or fail the mission depending on their allegiance. At its heart, The Resistance is a devious game that pits friend against friends, letting people don the mask to reveal their sneaky side.

If the sci-fi theme isn’t your style of thing, there’s also The Resistance: Avalon which takes the same game play and plants it in the realm of King Arthur.

Telestrations – $46.95

Players: 4 – 8
Play time: 30 minutes
How good are your art skills? Terrible? Great!
Telestrations is a party game where everyone is given a secret prompt to draw before passing their masterpiece on to their neighbour. Everyone then tries to guess what their neighbour has drawn before passing the pad on again. Round and round the circle goes until everyone’s original prompt has devolved into complete nonsense.

There’s no room for seriousness here. Telestrations is a game for collectively laughing at how a terrible drawing of a cat somehow made everyone start drawing breakfast.

Hanabi – $23.95

Players: 2 – 5
Play time: 25 minutes
Everyone loves a good fireworks display, except maybe the family dog. Hanabi is not a game your dog can play as you have to work together to make the fireworks display happen by giving each other clues about the cards in people’s hands.

Why do you have to tell people about the contents of their hands? Because you play Hanabi with you hand facing away from you, you see everyone’s cards but your own.

An ingenious game that requires you to work together using very limited tools, Hanabi is a personal favourite that feels so rewarding when things go right.


    • It’s a great game and one of my favourites. The only reason it didn’t make this list is that it can be difficult for people to learn the scoring.

      • Thats a fair point – theres an app for that, makes it a bit easier. I find its just the science cards that can be a bit tricky.

    • Sushi Go is incredibly similar to 7 Wonders, which is probably why it didn’t make the list. They’re both good games. Sushi Go is easier to pick up and play with new players, but 7 Wonders has more depth (and allows more players).

      The best thing about both games is how quickly they move, as all players are performing simultaneous actions. They’re great, and I recommend both!

    • This was the first Christmas present my woman bought me! It’s really great. If you’re only playing with two people though, Duels works much better 🙂

  • I cracked open King of Tokyo over the weekend for a preplay with Mrs. Disco before Christmas and it’s great fun. A bit limited in 2P but can see some great potential for larger battles. Being Dice based makes it easy to grasp and random!

  • Quirkle – get the travel edition! It’s the same game in a handy pouch that can live in your bag and be ready to Quirkle anywhere, anytime! 🙂

  • For drawing games, you cant beat Pictomania, although (as the name suggests), it can be a bit manic to play. Telestrations is probably a bit more relaxed.

    Or (still on drawing games) – A Fake Artist Goes to New York – a drawing game with a traitor. No idea if its easily available, but its fairly easy to make yourself, you just need pens of different colours, and paper.

    I think I’ll take Fake Artist and Skull with me for Xmas, just in case anyones in the mood.

  • aw man, telestrations can get hilarious. +1 for that game.
    its like chinese whispers with pictures drawn by contestants. works better with more people.
    first person writes a word, passes it left for that person to draw it, that person passes left for the next to write down their guess, who passes it left for that person to draw the guess. so on and so forth until it returns to the original owner. then you go around and share and laugh.

  • How about Tsuro of the Seas? Great game, taught my parents to play it who don’t mind board games but hate complicated ones. Tsuro is easy to understand and can be a lot of fun.

  • Sushi go, Resistance and Hanabi are all great games.

    Qwirkle is a good game, but I don’t know about playing it with family at Christmas. It’s a bit too easy for someone who has played before to annihilate a new player. Another good Scrabble replacement that sticks with words is Bananagrams. It’s basically scrabble but with all the boring stuff like waiting your turn and keeping score stripped out.

  • Kingdomino seems like it’d be a fantastic game for this niche as well. Simple to understand, simple scoring, lots of depth and the games are quick.

    • I love Kingdomino. Only got it recently but both the wife and kids enjoy playing it. I’ve got Codenames, Sushi Go, and Hanabi. For my family Kingdomino is the pick.

      • I only picked it up recently myself (interest was piqued when it won Spiel des Jarhes this year) so I haven’t had a chance to try it with the family yet, however I think it will go down really well.

  • In between cooking the roast and copious amounts of foods we still managed to set KD:M up on the table, and squeeze a game of Millennium Blades in! 🙂

  • Had several rounds of Exploding Kittens which went down really well with all ages, Uno is dead to me now. Taught some Card Wars to adventure time fans.

    Also played some Pandemic, lost every game 🙁

    When playing these new games with people I noticed their eyes light up with each new game that was introduced. Like what? There are OTHER games apart from Monopoly and Scrabble? They don’t make me groan with resignation when they are placed in front of me?

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