House For Six

Our Favorite Board Games (For the whole family and the little ones!)

Deme CrinionComment
Tis the season for gift giving! And soon the season of winter break (read: cabin fever with all the pent up energy and all the sibling love-hate feelings that have no place to go).  With both those in mind, I thought I would share a round-up of our favorite board games that the whole family can play.

We love having a good arsenal of games to access when the weather keeps us in, and for some family fun once Babyzilla is down for the night.  #weloveyouLivy #butyoucray

When it comes to gifts, I don't think you can go wrong with games.  My brother and his wife gifted us a few board games for our wedding and it was one of our best gifts we received!  I thought it was such a great idea for a new couple just starting out.  I love games for birthday giving since usually they're a gift that can grow with the child and have more longevity than many toys.  And of course, I'm a big fan of them as Christmas gifts.  Since all of our family is out of state we'll often do family gifts instead of individual gifts to cut down on shipping costs.  A "game night" box full of yummy snacks and a favorite board game is always a crowd pleaser.

That said, sometimes it's a challenge to find games that everyone in the family will enjoy, especially when you have young and older kids in the mix, including non-readers.

So, here's a run down of the games that are favorites in our household..from the games we can all play together, our favorites to play with large groups of friends, and favorites for that tricky not-yet-reading preschool age!
Best family board games for all ages

Favorites for the Whole Family
Charades/Guestures.  We have the Guestures game and the kids are cuckoo about the device that holds the cards.  It's a timer that holds four cards and you only have a limited time to act out a card before it drops down.  I like it because, the cards have three levels of difficulty to suit a variety of ages.  But we also love playing good ole charades too.

Headbandz. This is another one that everyone in our family loves...if we can keep Jack from running over to the mirror to look at his card #cheater.  No reading required.  It's sort of like a 20 questions game to figure out the picture that's on your headband.  And there's something that invokes giggles about wearing something silly on your head.

Scrabble.  I was surprised that our kids enjoy playing this so much.  I think the interest comes as they begin to read and learn new words.  We have the younger ones team up with an adult and I think they also like the feel of the small squares and hiding them from the other players.  This game is not cheap, but I would say it's worth it to pay for the raised grid lines to hold the letters, otherwise it's a complete mess every time you turn the board.  We got this one here (that also spins), but really the tile locks are the key, like this one.  #sanity.

Telestrations.  You guys - this GAME!  It's our new favorite! I have not laugh-cried so hard in a long time. It's basically the pictionary version of the old telephone game.  Instead of passing on a message by whispering into someone's ear, you are passing a picture.  You alternate between guessing what the picture is that's just been passed to you and drawing a picture of a word (the previous guess) that's been passed.  If you really want to challenge yourself, sit next to the 4 year old.  Young ones who can't read can play this they just need an adult to sit on one side to tell them the word to draw and to write down their guess from the picture.  This is definitely more fun with more players.  We tend to save this one for when we're hosting friends  It would be perfect for taking along on those big family get-togethers over the holidays.  Personally, I think it's ideal with at least 6 players.  We got the party pack since we planned to use it with friends, but there are different sizes including the 6 player family pack and the 8 player original.

Five Second Rule (junior).  The object of this game is easy.  Name three things in a given category within 5 seconds.  We got a small version of this as a Chick Fil A kids meal prize and the kids love it.  I found a junior/kid friendly version here, but the original is fun for an older crowd too.

Guess Who.  Oh my childhood!  Oh the nostalgia!  And our kids love it just as much.  Again, no reading required here, just process of elimination. Be sure to read reviews as some of these are made really poorly and the cards fall out.  The one I link to has good reviews at a decent price.

Apples to Apples.  This one is pretty darn hilarious - maybe more for adults but it's fun to see the kids' decision making as they decide what noun to pair with a given adjective.  Who's a straight lined kid and who has the dripping sarcasm or the goofy sense of humor?  There's a junior edition for the family or the original that might be better suited for an adult game night.

For the Littles (& great educational tools)

Spot It.  There are so many versions of these, you can find them everywhere.  And they're compact, so great for travel too.  It's basically like the game version of a search and find book.

Zingo.  This is our 4 year old's game of choice every time.  It's a fun version of Bingo.  The Zingo tiles have both a picture and the word, so it's great for those that can't read and sneaking in a little sight reading practice.

Connect Four.  What can I say #oldschoolforthewin. The kids dig anything with chips and sometimes the best part is releasing them so they all crash in a giant heap.  It might be more random play than strategy at first, but eventually the strategy comes along.

Rapid Doodle.  We recently came across this game looking for something that didn't require reading.  If your child is old enough to draw basic sketches, they can play this game.  It requires a little imagination to take a basic shape like a triangle and come up with four different pictures using that shape.  We don't use the timer when the younger ones are playing but it's pretty fun to see what they come up with.  We got this when Jack (our youngest besides the baby) was 4 and he was fine.

Uno.  Numbers and colors, hooray!  If you want a version that's a little more fun (and little kid proof) try Uno MOO.  Players have to put a piece that's the same character or the same color on the little ledge. Our kids still get a kick out of this.  Mostly because they get to knock the previous player's piece into the barn when it's their turn.  More sneaky learning.

For little ones you can't go wrong with classics like Candy LandPictionary,Go Fish, Memory (with any deck of cards), and even War (great for learning lesser/greater number values).  When Mia was about 5 or 6 years old, James even started teaching her to play blackjack (can you tell we used to live in Vegas?).  But it really helped with those addition facts and she was having so much fun betting chips that she didn't even notice she was drilling math.  We may be grooming a future gambler but until she starts counting cards I'll let it go....all in the name of math!

And in the spirit of Advent/Christmas I should mention these two games that are on repeat these days. 

To Bethlehem.  This was gifted to us a few years ago and its a really fun interactive game where the players have to try to get to Bethlehem.  Along the way they may have to pay shekels, do zany activities, or answer campfire style questions about their own Christmas memories/traditions.  Our kids look forward to pulling this out every year.  Availability seems to be low for a pre-Christmas arrival, but may be a good one to scoop up on a holiday sale for next year.
Snowmanopoly.  My kids LOVE Monopoly.  I do not (so many pieces, so many papers, so many things falling off the table, SO LONG).  But for some reason I can tolerate this winter version more than the original.  Go figure.

Overall, I think the key to finding games that all our kids enjoy playing is tweaking the rules of the "big kid" games to allow the younger ones to participate.  Instead of reading a word off the card for charades, we'll whisper something into the 3 year old's ear to act out...if we need to nix the timer to allow a little more time, great....if we need to add a rule (like a two turn limit to Memory) so that the big kids don't take over, no problem....and a lot of times, we just pair the youngest up with an adult.

How about you?  I would love to hear what works for your family...and some of your favorite games!  Let's hear em' in the comments.  It could be like the best family game list ever.   

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Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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