In today’s post: Find 20 of the best family board games!
Getting a new family board game to play on Christmas Eve is a popular holiday tradition for many families. I grew up playing lots of games together with my family, and I’ve wanted to continue that tradition with my own kids. At the same time, I’ll admit most “kid” games bore me TO DEATH (I’m looking at you, Hi Ho Cherry-O!). And even though I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Monopoly, I’ve already played it at least a million times. So I’ve compiled a list of the best family games that will be enjoyed by kids and parents alike – many of which you may not have tried before!
20 best family board games
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…And yes, not all of these are actually board games. Plenty are card games, but they’re still super fun!
Did you know you can have all the fun of Monopoly without sacrificing three hours of your life? Well, you can. Some smarty pants at Hasbro figured out how to wrap up the fun of collecting properties and charging opponents rent into a tidy little card game that can be played in – wait for it – 15 minutes! But don’t worry, it’s so much fun you’ll want to play it two or three times in a row. Plus you now get the chance to STEAL prime properties from other players, meaning all you hard core competitive types are still going to love it. It may not technically be a board game, but it’s still one of the BEST family games around.
Entertaining name aside, this easy to learn card game really is entertaining! When you get a matching set of assets, you can lay it down in front of you. But the only way to protect the set from being stolen by a teammate and added to their own stack is to cover it with another matching set, so you’d better get one fast! This family game is easy enough that first graders can understand and play on their own, but fun enough for the teenagers to want to join in.
If your idea of family fun is everyone yelling at each other (in a good way), then this is the game for you. If the symbol on your card matches someone else’s, you have to call out an answer to the category on their card before they call out an answer to your card. Whoever calls an answer out first gets to keep both cards, but don’t get confused and say the wrong thing! Fun and fast-paced, this one will have everyone laughing (and little kids can play on a team with adults).
I know you’re wondering: is this game really as fun as they say? Well, it’s the only game our oldest teen will play with the family, and that should answer your question. The premise is simple: don’t be the one to draw an exploding kitten card, unless you happen to have a defuse card. All the other cards help you avoid an exploding kitten, or even give it to someone else. Game play is fast and unpredictable, meaning every game is different. Our youngest had no problem picking this up as a 6-year-old.
The cards you hold in your hand determine your abilities: how many coins you can earn each round, whether you can steal cards, whether you can kill another player. Of course, the other players don’t know which cards you hold, so you could always, you know, lie. And hope no one calls your bluff, or you’re the one who will end up dead. Easy to play, very fast paced rounds, and lots of fun bluffing make this family game popular with teens.
I like Suspend because it’s a game my older kids and younger kids will play together: it’s easy enough the younger kids don’t need help to play, but competitive enough that they older kids don’t think it’s boring. And it’s way easier to clean up and put away than Jenga!
What makes Pandemic special is that it’s a cooperative game – so instead of competing against each other, players work together to beat the game. Players work as a team to cure four diseases that are spreading across the world (the game board is a world map). Each player has special abilities, and everyone is involved in the decision-making no matter whose turn it is. Different difficulty levels keep things interesting, and the game is different each time it is played. Games last between 30-60 minutes.
Basically, this is the fast, fun version of Scrabble! Instead of playing one at a time on a board, players all have their own letter tiles and compete to see who can create a word grid from them the fastest. Every time someone runs out of letters they yell “peel” and everyone has to take another letter. Play continues until all the letter tiles are gone and someone uses up all their letters. Each game lasts about 10-15 minutes. You can make the game easier for younger kids by having them start with fewer letters than everyone else.
Remember playing telephone when you were a kid? Well this game is a fun twist on the old idea. Instead of whispering the word to each other, players alternate drawing a picture of the clue and trying to interpret what the picture means. As one “clue” makes it all the way around the circle of players it’s pretty hilarious to see how far you end up from the original word. Great family game, great party game.
A little like Yahtzee, Quixx involves rolling dice and then crossing off boxes on your scorecard to earn points. Unlike Yahtzee, you can earn points from other people’s rolls too. And to make it more exciting, there are 6 dice of different colors and you can score them in different combinations, meaning there’s quite a bit of strategy involved. Younger kids will need some help.
Even more fantastic family games
I used to think Boggle was a game for old people – I mean boring, right? But a few years ago I played with with my kids for the first time and they LOVED it. Shake up the letter cubes, set the timer, and then see how many words you can make from connected letters. Even my younger kids loved it and were able to find some short words. This is a great family game to take camping, on airplane rides, or anywhere you’ll have some extra time to fill.
This fun family game has been around for a while and it’s easy to see why. It combines the challenge of getting your teammates to guess a specific word with the fun of a ticking time bomb – you never know when the timer is going to end and you don’t want to be the one giving clues when it does!
A bit like Scrabble, this game features tiles that have different colored symbols on them. Instead of using tiles to spell a word, players can place tiles that have either color or symbol in common down in a row, connecting to rows made by previous plays. It’s great for younger kids who don’t have the reading skills to participate in many games, but there’s enough strategy involved to keep older kids interested as well. Games take about 45 minutes.
In this highly addictive card game, 12 cards are laid out on the table and players race to find a “set”: 3 cards that are either all the same or all different in shape, color, number, or shade. Most of the fun comes from the fact that there are no turns – players look at the cards and yell “Set!” when they’ve found one. They collect their set, three more cards are laid out, and the race to find another set begins. Younger players often seem to do better than adults at identifying the patterns needed to make a set, which makes the kids in the family very happy. Each round can be played quickly, and the portable nature of the game makes it perfect for travel or wait time at the dentist, etc.
My children love this quick-moving game! You’re an explorer searching for Incan gold in ancient caves. At the beginning of each round all players enter a cave, then cards are turned over representing either treasure, or perilous hazards. Each treasure card that’s played adds to your hoard, but if too many hazard cards are played, the round ends and you lose it all. As each card is played you must decide whether to leave the cave, taking the treasure you’ve earned so far but missing out on the chance to earn more, or stay in the cave and earn more treasure but risk losing it all. Games are quick – about 30 minutes for all 5 rounds – and involve a little strategy and a lot of luck.
This fun game has been around for over 100 years, and it’s as much fun for adults as it is for kids! It’s a simple concept: everyone is dealt 9 cards and you have to trade cards with each other until all the cards in your hand match – first one to get a matching hand wins the round. Trading happens all at once and you never know what you’re trading for, so there’s lots of commotion as everyone tries to get rid of the cards they don’t want and collect the ones they do. There are also 2 wild cards that shake things up even more. Each round only takes a couple of minutes, so you can play as many rounds as you have time for, but kids will beg to keep playing one more round. It’s lots of fun for everyone involved, and one of the best family games we’ve played.
This inventive game is lots of fun for a large group. Everyone except the person in the “hot seat” knows what the guess word is (i.e. swimsuit). Everyone takes turns describing what theirs is like: “mine is tight” or “mine gets wet” or “I get depressed every time I put mine on” 😉 while the person in the hot seat tries to figure out what everyone is describing. An Amazon reviewer said: “We played this game with 10 people and laughed till we could not breath. It gets your mind working on how to describe something without the usual words that would give it away. It’s loads of fun for all age groups!! It’s easy to set up and get started, no long drawn out instructions to read . Most of all…it makes us all laugh and that’s a good thing!”
We played this game as children and just referred to it as “the dice game.” It’s super fun and can be played just about anywhere (it was a favorite for taking on plane rides and in the car). On your turn you roll all six dice and score points based on the combination you rolled. As long as you continue to roll the right combination to earn points you can keep rolling the dice, building up a higher score. But if you keep rolling and DON’T roll a countable combination, you lose the points you’ve earned on this turn. The rules are simple and easy to earn, but each turn requires you to use a little strategy in order to maximize the points you earn. Little kids LOVE rolling the dice, so it’s easy to include a younger sibling on a “team” with Mom or Dad. The game ends when someone gets 10,000 points, but if you want a shorter game you can play to 5000 instead.
Complicated rules mean this game requires a little investment of time to understand, but it’s well worth it as the game is both competitive and highly addictive. This is seriously the BEST family board game out there. The complexity means adults will enjoy playing, but kids over 10 will be able to play and will improve with each game. Younger kids can play as “helpers” who role the dice and collect cards. NOTE: If you’ve played before and thought the game moved too slowly, make a simple adjustment: use the “expansion pack” rules, which allow all players to trade and build at the end of EACH turn, instead of waiting for your OWN turn to do so. This shortens game time substantially (45 minutes instead of 60-90) and makes it much more exciting.
If you have teens who are bored with the games you used to play with each other, you might want to give The Resistance a try. It requires 5 players, so it’s great for parties, but it’s fun enough you might even be able to convince your teen and his friends to play with you. Some players will be resistance members (good guys) who need to complete missions to topple the evil government. Others will be spies sent to infiltrate the missions and make sure they fail. The spies know who each other are, but the good guys are in the dark. The good guys have to figure out who the spies are and eliminate them from the missions in order to succeed, while the spies pretend to be good guys so they can continue their sabotage. Games are quick (30 minutes) and the rules are easy to understand. If you’re a spy you will have to lie during the game, which might make this too difficult for kids to follow, but teens will have a blast trying to conceal the fact they’re spies.