We’ve got your holiday shopping list covered — Whether you’ve got toddlers or teens. Below are five parent-tested board games for kids that are guaranteed to be a hit.
A big thank you to the website Best Games for Families for letting us re-share this list. This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link we may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
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I admit the nickname Reluctant Gamer Mom is spot on. I was originally dragged into this whole gaming thing over the years by Gamer Dad and our two lovely daughters. I can be quite particular about which board games I enjoy.
Over time, I’ve come full circle and now see the priceless value of playing board games with kids. It is a wonderful way to connect and be fully present with your family.
What I can wholeheartedly tell you is…
I believe in game nights.
I believe in PJ movie parties.
I believe in breakfast for dinner.
And I believe happiness is family.
Honestly, can you think of a better way to spend your holiday break with the kids?
If you’re not sure which family board game to invest in this holiday season, below is a list of five must-have games for kids. Grab one for under the tree and schedule some game time (and hot cocoa picnics) over Christmas break this year!
5 Must-Have Board Games For Kids Of All Ages
Whether you’ve got toddlers, tweens or teens (or a unique combo!), we’ve got you covered with a board game suggestion.
1. eeBoo Life on Earth Memory Matching Game (Toddlers Through Teens)
I bought this Memory Matching Game for my daughter when she was three; she’s thirteen and we still bring it with us on coffee shop dates. The reason why I highly recommend it is a bit longwinded, but bear with me.
We’ve always strongly believed it is important to never let your kids win games. I’ve seen parents do it time-and-time again and here’s the thing, the kids know what is going on. You can always see it in their faces. I’ve also seen what happens when you train your kids that games are only fun if they win. They become sore losers and straight-up refuse to play anything… sadly this trait can carry over to life.
Memory is one of the best games to play with kids because they can authentically kick your ass at it. Have you ever played Matching with a preschooler while trying to make dinner at the same time? Trust me, your four your old will ROCK this game. Just like your kid can sense you’re faking it if you let them win, they can tell when they’ve authentically kicked your butt too. It is an empowering experience.
What I particularly love about this eeBook Life on Earth Memory Matching Game is the quality of the product. The artwork in this eeBook set is beautiful, colorful, and creative. It is also gender-neutral, which means this game can be based from sibling to sibling, cousin to cousin, or friend to friend. The cardboard tiles are THICK and durable. We’ve had this memory matching game for ten years and ours is still in great working condition. The pieces have a glossy cover to protect them.
While we no longer pull Memory out during family game night, this set still accompanies us on hot cocoa dates at the local coffee shop. We ditched the box years ago, and have the pieces in a cotton tied bag making it easy to carry in a purse. This game is perfect as you wait for food at a restaurant when your kids are little or for a deep-conversation coffee date with your teen. I swear the reason the girls still love to play is fond memories of truly winning when they were young.
MEMORY MATCHING GAME DESCRIPTION: Flora and fauna from around the world show the richness of Life on Earth. Twenty-four pairs of tiles include everything from iguanas to cardinals, oak leaves and acorns to underwater coral. Made of 90% recycled greyboard and is printed with safe, soy-based inks.
2. Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Eye Found It Board Game (3 – 8 Years Old)
Busytown is a breath of fresh air. I’m not going to lie, I hate Candyland. I disliked it as a kid and despised it even more as a parent. I was delighted the first time we played Richard Scarry’s Busytown. If you have siblings who vary greatly in age, this game is wonderful.
This is a great game for families who have elementary school-age children and preschoolers. Each player starts out individually, but halfway through the game all players are required to team-up to “beat the pigs.” It is a wonderful way to ensure your little one doesn’t feel left behind. It is a great intro-game which creates positive gaming experiences before moving on to more competitive games later on.
One last thing, the game board is over SIX FEET LONG. That’s just cool.
BUSYTOWN GAME DESCRIPTION: Race around town solving mysteries! How many objects can you find? Join Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm on a fun-filled race around Busytown to solve mysteries and find hidden objects. Drive through lively city streets, an activity-filled farm, an action-packed airport, and a bustling harbor full of silly boats. There’s much to discover on this gigantic, colorful game board that’s over six feet long!
As players race through Busytown, they’ll team up every time someone lands on Goldbug—leaving no corner of the board unexplored as they discover hidden objects and race toward Picnic Island. With hundreds of objects to find this game provides hours of fun while building confidence each time a child says, “I found it!”
3. Blokus (Ages 5 to Adult)
Don’t assume that because you have young kids you cannot play fun, strategic games with them. While Blockus is a game adults and teens adore, the official playing age begins at just five years old. If you liked Nintendo’s Tetris as a kid, you’ll enjoy playing Blockus with your family.
When our kids were younger we’d simply team-up and if the girls got stuck on their turn, they had a designated helper. The best part was that Gamer Dad and I could still be super competitive with each other during the game!
BLOCKUS GAME DESCRIPTION: Gather the family around the game table for this easy-to-learn favorite. The 30-minute playing time is perfect for short attention spans and can also be repeated for an entire evening of fun. Blokus is the fast-paced strategy game that delivers “One Rule, Endless Possibilities!”
Stake your claim and protect your territory with the Blokus game! It takes less than a minute to learn but offers endless strategies and fun challenges for the whole family. Each player gets a set of 21 pieces – in red, blue, green, or yellow – then takes turns placing them on the board. There’s just one rule: each piece you play must touch at least one other piece of the same color, but only at the corners. The goal is to fit the most pieces on the board. The game ends when no more pieces can be placed down, and the player with the lowest number remaining wins!
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4. Dixit Board Game (8 to Adult)
Dixit is a short game (30 minutes or so) rooted in creative thinking. The age range is 8 and up, but we’ve found this is a fun game to play with young kids if you team-up. What I particularly love about Dixit is the insight it provides into my kids’ thoughts. It is easy to learn and never loses its luster. The game is almost a visual-based version of the classic Apples to Apples, but don’t tell Gamer Dad I said that… he adores Dixit and despises the other.
The best part of this game is you can always keep it fresh with expansion packs. We love adding new art to the experience!
We’ve found this to be a great multi-generational game. It is great for kids to enjoy with younger siblings, but it is also fun to play with grandparents. I highly recommend it!
DIXIT GAME DESCRIPTION: Every picture tells a story – but what story will your picture tell? Dixit is the lovingly illustrated game of creative guesswork, where your imagination unlocks the tale. In this award-winning board game, players will use the beautiful imagery on their cards to bluff their opponents and guess which image matches the story. Guessing right is only half the battle – to really succeed, you’ll have to get your friends to decide that your card tells the story!
5. The Settlers of Catan (10 to Adult)
There is a reason Catan is popular and has won so many awards. While it is appealing to experienced gamers, it is also easy to learn, making Catan accessible for families who are new to strategic gaming. In other words, it is fun for geeks and newbies alike.
What I love is that this board game constantly changes. During the set-up process (which includes placing hexagons in a honeycomb shape), you’re basically assembling a brand new board each time you play. Every play feels like a brand new experience.
Catan is a longer game and our family usually plays it in 30-minute stints. We set a timer, then take a 20-minute break to refresh. This allows younger players the ability to stay focused for the entirety of the game. When we first started playing this with the girls and their grandparents, we played in teams until everyone had gotten the hang of it.
The game also offers great life lessons for kids. You have to do your best with the hand you’re dealt. Each combination of territories has positive and negative aspects. I love it when the girls complain about their assets at the beginning and end up winning in the end. It is a wonderful reminder to just do your best and ROCK what you’ve been given in life.
GAME DESCRIPTION: Picture yourself in the era of discoveries: After a long voyage of great deprivation, your ships have finally reached the coast of an uncharted island. Its name shall be Catan! But you are not the only discoverer. Other fearless seafarers have also landed on the shores of Catan: The race to settle the island has begun!
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I hope you’ll consider one of these recommendations as you shop this season.
If you love family game night, stay connected with us for future inspiration on the Best Game for Family’s Facebook page and check out our game review site here:
From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!
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