2018 Holiday Board Game Shopping Guide
We’ve got everything here from games for toddlers and preschoolers, to adult games, to large groups or two players. No matter what age you’re shopping for or what the occasion is, our family recommends all of these games highly.
Gifts for Very Young Children
Go Away Monster – A gentle introduction to turn-taking. Draw puzzle pieces from a bag. Furniture goes into your “room”, but monsters go to jail!
Gifts for Children Under 8 Years Old
Dinosaur Tea Party – You’re at a tea party at Dinoton Abbey and have forgotten everyone’s name! Deduce who’s who by asking questions of your fellow players. Our favorite game of 2018, this light deduction game is fun for all ages (but requires a tiny bit of reading).
Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters – This game may be a few years old, but it is our best find of 2018. Cooperate to retrieve all the treasures before the ghosts multiply out of control! Multiple difficulty levels let you decide each time you play if it should be approachable or murderously challenging.
Catch! – A very simple game of cat and mouse, roll the dice and try to move the cats to trap the mouse!
Gifts for Older Children
Kids who are ready for more strategy will love these games. Most adults love them too.
Century: Spice Road or Golem Edition – We love building an empire of resources. We’ve reviewed the Spice Road version, but our children prefer the “Golem Edition”, in which you collect gems and buy helpful crystal-studded golems.
Gifts for Adults
Ancestree – Although this is playable by children 8+, most kids will be turned off by the historically-inspired artwork. Adults find the portraits comically ugly, and this game of building the best family tree is both surprisingly light and surprisingly engaging. (our review)
Dice Forge – An ingenious twist on the deck builder, Dice Forge features dice with removable faces that you upgrade as you play. With rich fantasy art and tight mechanics, Dice Forge is a delight.
The Mansky Caper – In this luck-based resource gathering game, you play as a member of a crime family, taking advantage of mob boss Al Mansky while he’s out of town. More about the journey over the destination, this game features tons of social interaction, a lot of laughs, and a lot of fun. (Our review)
Tournament of Towers – This shape stacking dexterity game requires balancing the desires of Queen Structura and King Curvanimus on your quest to become the official royal builder! Simple enough for any age, yet requiring enough precision to be difficult if you really want to compete, Tournament of Towers is a winner for us! (Our review, and our interview with the designers)
Gifts for Two Players
Sometimes you want to play a game that’s just right for two. These games are perfect for a date night game or one-on-one time with your child.
Party Game Gifts
Codenames: Disney Family Edition – A new version of the modern classic, Codenames: Disney adds easier layouts for family play, with familiar Disney characters and settings. Play with pictures, words, or both for more challenge. (our review)
Go Nuts for Donuts – Pick your donut, but don’t pick the same one as your neighbors. Fast-moving and fun for all ages, from preschooler to grandma.
Stocking Stuffers or Gift Exchange
Our picks for small, inexpensive games that have wide appeal.
Roll For It! – A new classic reminiscent of Yahtzee. Easy to learn and easy to understand: roll dice and match them to cards. Go for lots of easy low-point cards or just a few difficult high point cards? Your choice. (our review)
OK Play – More challenging than tic-tac-toe, but with simple rules. Place tiles one at a time to get five in a row. Up to four players, with super durable pieces that won’t be hurt by a little dirt or drool. (our review)
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