While food, sleep, and exercise are huge factors in everyone’s health journey, eliminating stress and having fun are just as important. It can be so easy to forget to have fun amongst all of our crazy busy schedules, am I right? But doing so plays a huge factor in your health and happiness! Making time to prioritize having fun has several health benefits including: reduced stress, boosted energy, better sleep, and increased serotonin levels (1).
Playing games is a favorite tradition my family loves to do on Sunday nights! Holidays are a special time to be with family. So, with the holidays coming up, I thought I would share some of our absolute favorites to play. I’ve categorized them by interest of my kids’ age, which games my husband loves, which games I love, and which games we all love as a family:
Alhambra: “At the foot of the sierra Nevada mountains, one of the most exciting and interesting projects of the Spanish middle ages begins: the construction of the Alhambra. In the role of master builders the players try to hire experts from all across Europe to erect buildings for their Palace, who all insist on their “native” currency. The players have to be smart about their purchases to build the most impressive Palace in the end.”
Carcassonne: “Carcassonne is the perfect introduction to the modern world of board games. With its simple rules (place a tile, place a deeply, score points), should be part of everyone’s collection.”
Kingdom Builders: “In Kingdom Builder the players create their own Kingdoms by skillfully building their settlements, aiming to earn the most gold at the end of the game. A highly variable game board and varying scoring conditions will ensure that you won’t be playing the same game ever, unless you want to.”
7 Wonders: “You are the leader of one of the 7 great cities of the Ancient World. Gather resources, develop commercial routes and affirm your military supremacy. Build your city and erect an architectural wonder which will transcend future times.”
Coloretto: “The players draw cards from a card supply in the middle of the table. During the game, the players try to specialize in a few colors, as at the end of the game, a player can score plus points for only 3 colors; the rest score minus points. The more cards a player has of a color, the more points he scores. The player with the most points wins.”
Cover Your Assets: “Every time a stack is stolen it increases in value, making it a more enticing target to steal and harder to hold onto. The best way to protect a valuable set it to cover those assets with a new set of assets. You literally Cover Your Assets. See what we did there? This game is fast-paced, competitive, and a more than a little addictive.”
20 yr. old Favorites
Code 777: “Crack your code first! You can see your opponents’ code, but not your own. Using answers to the included Question Cards plus your own logic ability, try to deduce which three numbers are hidden in front of you. Once you are reasonably sure, you make your guess! One point is awarded for a correct solution to your code. First player to 3 points wins!”
Coup: “In the not too distant future, The government is run for profit by a new “royal class” Of multi national CEOs. Their greed and absolute control of the economy has reduced all but a privileged few to lives of poverty and Desperation. Out of the oppressed masses rose The resistance, an underground organization focused on overthrowing these powerful rulers. The Valiant efforts of the resistance have created Discord, intrigue and weakness in the political courts of the nouveau royal, bringing the government to brink of collapse. But for you, a powerful government official, this is your opportunity to manipulate, bribe and bluff your way into absolute power. To be successful, you must destroy the influence of your rivals and drive them into Exile. In these Turbulent times there is only room for one to survive.”
Munchkin: “Go down in the dungeon. Kill everything you meet. Backstab your friends and steal their stuff. Grab the treasure and run. Admit it. You love it… Fast-playing and silly, Munchkin can reduce any roleplaying group to hysteria. And, while they’re laughing, you can steal their stuff.”
18 yr. old Favorites
Karuba: “On the legendary island of Karuba there are huge temples and valuable treasures hidden away deep in the jungle. You are the leaders of an expedition, and must skillfully plan the paths for your adventurers. You will only be able to collect all the treasures in the jungle and reach the temples if your adventurers don‘t block each other, and if you can do better than competing expedition leaders.”
Kingdomino: “Dominoes with a Kingdom building twist! each turn, connect a new domino to your existing Kingdom, making sure at least one of its sides connects to a matching terrain Type already in play. The game mechanics for obtaining the tiles is clever: the order who of who picks first depends on which tile was previously chosen. Make sure to secure tiles with crowns- these royal treasures help to multiply the worth of your Kingdom at the end of the game! the game ends when each player has completed a 5 x 5 grid, and then points are counted based on number of connecting tiles and crowns.”
Splendor: “As a wealthy Renaissance merchant, acquire mines and transportation, hire artisans and woo the nobility. Create the most fantastic jewelry to become the best-known merchant of them all! Acquire precious stones to trade them for development cards. Use development cards to acquire more gem stones. Use your gems and gold to create the most fantastic jewelry, and appeal to the nobles to gain the prestige you need to win.”
16 yr. old Favorites
Century Spice Road: “Introducing Century, a series of exciting and wonderfully addictive stand alone, mixable games. Each title is set in different centuries, from the 15th to the 17th, and depicts the major trading systems and routes of these eras. While quick and easy to learn, the century trilogy will fully engage even the most strategic players. Discover the beauties of the spice trading road and its colorful markets with the amazing artwork by international renowned artist Fernanda Suárez. Wrap your mind around simple and pure game mechanics combined with a touch of deck building system that lead to endless strategies and decisions.
Setters of Catan: “Your adventurous settlers seek to tame the remote but rich isle of Catan. Start by revealing Catan’s many harbors and regions: pastures, fields, mountains, hills, forests, and desert. The random mix creates a different board virtually every game. Skills – Clever trading, strategy, tactical skill, luck.”
Tsuro: “The board changes every time you play the game, making it unique and fun for adults and kids. Players are challenged to create and travel the Path as it builds before them. The Path is an ever-changing mystery. With each turn, the maze grows and you must anticipate other players’ next moves. The wisest player will remain on their Path.”
13 yr. old Favorites
Code Names: “Codenames is a social word game with a simple premise and challenging game play. Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their codenames. The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the table. Their teammates try to guess words of their color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.”
Ubongo!: “Bongo is a fast-paced, addictive, and easy-to-learn geometric puzzle game. Players race against the timer and against each other to solve a puzzle of interlocking shapes. The faster you solve the puzzle, the more gems you get. The player with the most valuable gem treasure after nine rounds of solving puzzles wins!”
Perpetual Commotion: “Perpetual Commotion from Goldbrick Games is an outrageously fast and incredibly addictive card game for 2 to 6 players. This easy-to-learn game takes about 45 minutes to play. The object of the game is to play your cards–as many and as fast as you can–into a common arena. To win, you must play faster and more aggressively than your opponents.”
9 yr. old Favorites
Dixit: “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!”
Telestrations: “Each player starts with their own erasable sketch book, marker and word card. A roll of the die determines each player’s secret word. The timer gets turned and everyone draws their word. After 60 seconds, everyone passes their book to the player on their left. Then each player takes a few seconds to guess in words(s) what they see, and passes again… Just like the game of “telephone,” the outcomes are unpredictable and the laughter is contagious!”
Cash ‘n Guns: “The big heist may have been a success, but it all goes wrong when every crook wants a bigger cut. With this much money on the table, bullets speak louder than words! In Cash ‘n Guns, players will point foam pistols at each other and try to intimidate their opponents into letting them have the largest share. The bravest crooks enjoy the most money – but only if they live long enough to spend it!”
5 yr. old Favorites
Disney Apples to Apples: “The Game of Goofy Comparisons. Now the whole family can experience the award-winning fun of APPLES to APPLES as they never have before, with the magic of Disney and some wonderful new twists. For the first time, Red Apple cards come to life with pictures from Disney theme parks, movies and Disney Channel shows.”
Spot It!: “Test your observational skills and hone your reflexes with the award-winning gameplay of Spot It!, a game of lightning-fast choices for a group of two to eight players… The game functions on a simple mechanic—fifty-five circular cards, each of which features a number of symbols and has exactly one of those symbols in common with every other card in the deck. With five distinct mini-games, you can be sure that Spot It! will be different every time you play, and because it’s always your turn, there’s never any downtime!”
Operation: “Cavity Sam is feeling a bit under the weather, and kids will love to “operate” and make him better. Use the tweezers to take out all of Cavity Sam’s 12 funny ailment parts that parents might remember — such as a wishbone, Charlie horse, and Adam’s apple. Players choose a doctor card and “operate” to remove that ailment from Sam, and collect the money if they can avoid the buzz. The player with the most money wins!”
Other Family Favorites
Blokus: “Stake your claim and protect your territory with the Blokus game! It takes less than a minute to learn, but offers endless strategy 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!”
Exploding Kittens: “Exploding kittens is a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats. In this highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian roulette, players draw cards until someone draws an exploding kitten, at which point They explode, they are Dead, and they are out of the game — unless that player has a defuse card, which can defuse the kitten using things like laser pointers, belly rubs, and catnip sandwiches. All of the other cards in the deck are used to move, mitigate, or avoid the exploding kittens.”
Sabateur: “In the far reaches of the forest there are old, long-forgotten mines brimming with gold, silver, and gemstones that are ripe for the taking. So gather your dwarf Clan and start building a path to the mines. But beware, one of the mines is guarded by a Dragon and the forest paths are filled with Trolls, traps, and other obstacles you’ll need to work together to overcome. But the biggest threats come from within — your team’s unknown Saboteur works for the other team, and the selfish dwarves are only out for themselves.”
Sequence: “It’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s exciting, it’s sequence! Play a card from your hand, and place a chip on a corresponding space on the game board. When you have five in a row, it’s a sequence. Learn to block your opponents or remove their chips, and watch out for the jacks – they’re wild! With a little strategy and luck, you’ll be a winner. For 2-12 players, ages 7 and up.”
Ticket to Ride: October 2, 1900 – it’s 28 years to the day that noted London eccentric, Phileas Fogg accepted and then won a bet that he could travel “Around the World in 80 Days.” Now, at the dawn of the century, some old friends have gathered to celebrate Fogg’s impetuous and lucrative gamble – and to propose a new wager of their own. The stakes: $1 million in a winner-takes-all competition. The objective: to see the most cities in North America – in just 7 days. Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure game. Players collect train cards that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who can fulfill their Destination Tickets by connecting two distant cities, and to the player who builds the longest continuous railway.
Qwirkle: Qwirkle is MindWare’s must-have game and it is easy to see why! Simple to learn, yet strategic and exciting to play, Qwirkle is a favorite of all ages. Build lines of tiles that are all the same color or shape, with no duplicates. Score big by placing a tile that touches multiple pieces with matching attributes. Score even bigger by matching all 6 attributes and creating a Qwirkle!
My Free Gift to You
And there you have it! I hope your family has a wonderful, fun holiday season. What are some activities your family loves to do together? Share with me by commenting below.
Just for you, I’ve created a free downloadable Holiday Gift Guide with my favorite gift ideas for each of the following categories. All products are hyperlinked for easy shopping! Discount codes included with some applicable for Black Friday, and some applicable until Dec. 24th:
For my recommended top ten easiest grocery changes, click HERE.
For my gluten free guide, click HERE.
For my favorite supplements and vitamins, click HERE
For all of my cheat sheets and guides, click HERE.