12 Board Games That Will Bring Your Family Together Through Creative & Engaging Play

Best Games For Gifting

Whether you’re super close with your family, or find yourselves with little to talk about during the holidays, games are a fun way to connect and grow closer. Gaming with our loved ones puts us in friendly competition with one another, and provides a structured way to interact outside of watching television or eating together (especially on long, snowy winter days where we’re all stuck inside). Games also bring quieter folks out of their shells, and with all the options available these days, there’s something for all ages and gaming experience levels.

Games are an item that we buy once, and they stay in our families for years—sometimes even decades.

We also love games because they are an item that we buy once, and they stay in our families for years—sometimes even decades (I’m looking at you, Pretty Pretty Princess that everyone still has tucked away somewhere). So even when the pieces themselves may not be crafted with sustainable materials, the long-lasting and connective nature of board games makes them a conscious investment. Plus, there are plenty of secondhand options available—if there’s a game you want to relive from your childhood, look it up on eBay and buy it used before buying a new version!

Our favorite games go beyond common “classics” like Uno or Monopoly (which takes hours and, at least for my brothers and I as children, tends to devolve into arguments). Instead, we opt for games like these twelve that require strategic thinking and planning, creative storytelling, and social deduction. For some extra spice with your everything nice this holiday season, we’ve included both games that require deception and games that require collaboration, so you can cozy up and get to serious gaming this holiday and beyond!

1. Dixit

Ages | 8+
Number Of Players | 3–6

Spark your imagination with this wildly creative—and beautiful—game that’s accessible for almost everyone in the family. Tell a single-sentence story inspired by the artwork on your card, and players will choose the cards in their hands that fit the story, then vote on the card they think is the narrator’s. This simple card-based game doesn’t require any reading, and the unique cards can spark ridiculous stories (they even offer expansion packs if you want to diversify the cards even more).

Shop | $34.99

2. Crockinole

Ages | 6+
Number Of Players | 2–4

This game is one of the easiest to learn, but takes a lifetime to master (there are even tournaments of the game). Crockinole is a simple sliding game on a large board, where you aim for the center that’s surrounded by bumper pegs. You can ward your opponents off, too, by hitting their chips off the board! This one is a basic starter board, but look around your community and you might find a local woodworker who can craft a regulation-sized, highly-polished board.

Shop | $59.99

3. Codenames

Ages | 10+
Number Of Players | 2–8+

This is the perfect holiday party game for word-lovers and team-players alike. In Codenames, players work together to decipher their team leader’s clue and to select relevant cards. But be careful! There are agents working for the other team hidden in the cards—plus an assassin that is out to end the game. This game takes a few minutes to learn, but there are plenty of cards to keep it fresh for thousands of unique plays!

Shop | $19.95

4. The Resistance

Ages | 13+
Number Of Players | 5–10

The Resistance is a game of cunning, deceit, and quick-on-your feet decisionmaking that works best for a slightly older crowd. Players all maintain secret identities, and are either part of the corrupt government, part of the resistance, or government spies. Use social deduction to determine who may be on your team to win the game—but your friends aren’t always who they say they are. The Resistance is a game you’ll be telling stories about for years to come!

Shop | $13.93

5. Magical Athlete

Ages | 10+
Number Of Players | 4–5

This quirky racing game will have you and your loved ones rolling with laughter at mix of thoughtful strategy and sheer random luck that contribute to the results. Start by drafting your racers from a roster of colorful characters like Medusa, Ninja, Centaur, Witch, and more, then off to the races! Each character has its own unique magical abilities that may work with or against those of the other racers, making each race uniquely unpredictable and hilarious.

Shop | $49.99

6. Carcassonne

Ages | 8+
Number Of Players | 2–5 (expansions available)

If you’re looking for a game that involves more strategy for game night, Carcassonne fits the bill. Build a map from scratch using randomly-drawn tiles and place your pawns (called Meeples) on the board to claim towns, roads, and farmland to gain victory points before the other players do. This game takes a little longer to learn, but is fun for beginners and gaming veterans alike—plus, thanks to the random nature of the tiles, Carcassonne is also ultra-replayable.

Shop | $34.99

7. Zombie Dice

Ages | 10+
Number Of Players | 2+

Zombie Dice is the perfect game to pick up anywhere, anytime for holiday travelers since it’s self-contained—it’s simple, quick, and makes for a great stocking stuffer. You play as a zombie, whose goal is to get as many brains as you can before the shotgun blasts end your turn. Looking for a less apocalyptic dice game? Pass the Pigs is a lighthearted alternative, although it does require more intensive scorekeeping.

Shop | $9.29

8. Spot It!

Ages | 7+
Number Of Players | 2–8

Another game that’s great for travelers or as a stocking stuffer, this card game requires lightning-fast image recognition. Each of the 55 cards has exactly one matching symbol with any other card in the deck. Spot it first to win the card! With five different ways to play, Spot It is quick and easy to pick up, and is a great way to boost the energy during game night thanks to its fast pace and short play time.

Shop | $12.99

9. Pandemic

Ages | 13+
Number Of Players | 2–4 (expansions available)

Another board game that’s best for a slightly older group of people, Pandemic is a cooperative game that puts you all on the same team. All the players must work together to fight the spread of an epidemic that’s taken over the world, building medical centers, healing populations, and traveling across the globe to find the cure. But watch out for outbreaks—the disease might spread throughout regions faster than you can keep up. You can even customize the play with varying degrees of difficulty!

Shop | $39.99

10. Blokus

Ages | 7+
Number Of Players | 2–4

Blokus gives us serious Tetris vibes, and takes us back to the days of 8-bit gaming. Play your pieces strategically and weave them in and out of your opponent’s pieces to cover as much of the board as you can. This game takes less than a minute to learn, but will provide hours and hours of fun and challenging gameplay this holiday.

Shop | $29.95

11. Liar’s Dice

Ages | 8+
Number Of Players | 2+

This bidding game will get the whole family lying—and laughing—together. Roll your dice, don’t let others see what you have, then bid on the numbers you think are in the playing field—or bluff. Add more cups and dice for more players, and invite the extended family to play! This game is also easy to reconstruct yourself if you have a couple packs of dice and some opaque rolling cups (here’s how to play).

Shop | $26.25

12. Qwirkle

Ages | 6+
Number Of Players | 2–4

Qwirkle is an ultra-simple colors and shapes games that’s fun for the whole family—and helps build basic recognition skills for younger gamers. Qwirkle has a universal appeal that goes across generations, so it’s a great game to play with grandparents and grandchildren. Plus, we love that the tiles come in a handy pouch for easy travel and storage.

Shop | $34.99


Emily Torres is the Managing Editor at The Good Trade and the writer behind Ennaree, a blog dedicated to intentional, colorful living. She’s a Los Angeles transplant who was born and raised in Indiana, where she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her reading or writing, caring for her rabbits, or practicing at the hot yoga studio.