The Best Christmas Board Games
Whether Monopoly makes its annual appearance or if you make a point of getting a new game each year, we round up the best Christmas board games, starting with an intro from board game designer, Ellie Dix.
Board games have the power to bring families closer together, strengthen relationships and forge shared memories. Good board games evoke all sorts of emotions; happiness, delight, tension, intrigue, awe, trust, anticipation, surprise. Our emotional reactions connect us to the game, the experience and the people we’re playing with. Carving out moments for doing things together, like playing board games, gives families a natural focus for conversation. Tabletop chatter spills over into post-game analysis. Great experiences act as bookmarks in our mind, giving us memories to chat about time and time again.
Socialising with family
Many interactions parents have with their children are functional or transactional. It is all too easy for parents to get caught up with what needs to be done (homework, tidying, chores) and forget about stealing moments to have fun together. It’s so important for children to see their parents play. Board games develop many social and learning skills. They give children an opportunity to learn how to take turns, practise patience, work as part of a team, negotiate with others, compromise, communicate ideas, take risks, follow rules and directions and manage restrictions. Playing games improves memory formation and cognitive skills, increases processing speed, develops logic and reasoning skills, improves critical thinking, boosts spatial reasoning, improves verbal and communication skills, increases attention and concentration, teaches problem-solving, develops confidence and improves decision-making.
Game playing has proven health and mental health benefits as it induces laughter and reduces stress, boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure. Importantly, board games give us a screen-free escape from our daily worries and allow us to focus on something
else for a while.
Six games in a giant cracker. One cracker on the table, no waste. Replayable, zero-waste and entirely plastic-free. The games are designed for multi-generational play. Each game has a complexity rating, so you can pick a game that suits your level of post-Christmas lunch food coma level. The beautiful twist-end box is packed with high-quality cards and wooden components.
2-6 players | 5-15 minutes | ages 8+ | £19.99 + vat
Pop to the Shops
Orchard Toys have a huge variety of games for little ones which are simple to understand and easy to play. There’s always an educational element too. £10.99
Five Second Rule
One for all the family (there is also a junior version), Try to name three types of cat. Easy. Then do it with the added five-second time limit. £11.99
Move from the Awful Ancients to the Measly Middle Ages, through the Terrible Tudors and the Vile Victorians to the modern times by answering “Horrible” multiple-choice questions, acting out charades and trying to avoid Rattus and his tricky “Chance” cards! £16
Backgammon, chess, dominoes, cribbage and even snap. Start them young with this mahogany compendium. £99
Pass the Pugs
The aim of the game Pass the Pug is to be the first to get to 100 points and become top dog. The positions the pugs land in, determine how many points you get, but become a greedy dog and you could find yourself back to zero. £13.99
Trivial Pursuit Family Edition
A chance for parents to show off or for kids to beat the know-it-alls. £30
Can’t face a three-day game of Monopoly? Don’t blame you. Try this 15-minute version instead. £4.99
The Pictionary Air app follows players’ movements as their draw in the air, allowing their team to see sketches on their device. Customise the game with the app – it can save sketches, interact with drawings and allow teams to add more guessing time or rounds. You can even cast your game to your TV. £16
Ellie Dix is a game designer and author of The Board Game Family: Reclaim your children from the screen(Crown House Publishing: 2019). She runs The Dark Imp, a board game publisher specialising in games for families. TheDarkImp.com