Gifts of Games

Well now, games are not as practical a gift as say…socks and tweezers. But I like giving games as gifts because they bring people together for fellowship. Games create great family fun and are a wonderful way to learn.

(I don’t think I would actually ever give tweezers as a gift, by the way…it was simply the first practical item I could think of after socks, mainly because my eyebrows could stand some plucking right now.)

That was more than you needed to know, wasn’t it?

First I’ll list my favorite recommended games, then I’ll take care of the eyebrows. Here are my family’s favorite games in no particular order:

CandyLand, Hi Ho Cherry-O and Chutes and Ladders

Okay actually, I don’t really like playing Chutes and Ladders. I really, really don’t like it. It feels like the game that never ends. It just goes on and on my friends. As soon as someone gets almost to the top of the board to win, they hit a chute and down they go to practically the bottom which means that they have to start over and a mom can only handle so much of a good thing before she wants to flick a little game character across the room. However, it’s a great counting game and it’s inexpensive. I enjoy CandyLand and Hi Ho Cherry-O much better and while you’d think Hi Ho Cherry-O would make me hungry for fruit, CandyLand makes me hungry for gum drops. Why? I don’t know. I don’t even like gum drops.

Apples to Apples and Apples to Apples Junior

We love playing a few rounds of Apples to Apples Junior some evenings and it’s great for building up vocabulary. If you play the regular version of Apples to Apples with your kids (not the junior version), be aware that you’ll be teaching them some vocabulary, or some characters, that you’d rather not teach them about right now. Like Madonna.


Even our littlest guy can play Farkle. It’s a great dice game that’s very inexpensive.

Pass the Pigs

We got Pass the Pigs last year and it’s really fun! Of all things, there are two little rubberized piggies that you toss and get points for how they land. WHO thought of this, I’d like to know? But whatever. It’s a fun and uncomplicated game.

Settlers of Catan, and a bunch of Catan add on games

My husband (and now my older sons) are very much into long, drawn out strategy games (like Risk). The game of Risk makes me want put my tweezers in my shoe, stand on it and pluck my eyebrows out with my fingernails, but they like it so what’s a mom to do? But Settlers of Catan? That’s a strategy game I can handle. Usually. And then there are add on games that you can get to go with it like Cities and Knights and Seafarers of Catan.


Okay, now Manhattan is very much a game I recommend if your husband likes strategy games and you really don’t like thinking hard while you play a game. Manhattan takes about an hour to an hour and a half to play and is not complicated at all, yet there is strategy involved. I REALLY like Manhattan and reallllly recommend it. More about Manhattan when I talk about Gifts for Men.

Uno Attack

Uno Attack is just regular Uno with a goofy twist. The machine spits out cards at you and kids love it. This game has given us lots of laughs, and often too many cards to hold at one time.


Sequence is fun for kids about seven years old and up. I really like playing this with my kids. I’ve noticed a Sequence for Kids, but haven’t played it. Anyone want to share thoughts about Sequence for Kids?

Disney Scene It

We first played Disney Scene It while at some friends house for a party. It was SO much fun to watch the different scenes on the screen and try to see if you could yell out the answer first. Yeah, the kids almost always beat the adults. :)


I’ve recently been introduced to Quelf by my friend Rhonda. She said it’s a hoot! Anyone else played Quelf? I’m thinking my boys would like it and I may put it on our list sometime.

Okay everyone…pipe in here with your own favorite games! Which great ones did I forget? Which of the ones I mentioned are your favorites?


  1. says

    Good picks, I like that you gave the tip on apples to apples. My son spoke of this game that he played it in school on one day. He loved it. I was standing in line on black friday looking at this side stack of “special price” games and grabbed the regular apples to apples. It is good to know to be on guard with the game.
    I have a suggestion for a game if you have only 4 people playing blockus (i think that is what it is called. ) It is for those people whom really like a shape battle. It does get kinda mean because you are working to eliminate the other players by blocking them from your area of the board. Its great fun with just adults.. As long as no one is extremely sensitive thinking people are ganging up on them.


  2. Sheila says

    We have both Sequence and Sequence for Kids. I like the kids version, it plays similarly to the regular version with a few differences. First, there are animal cards instead of playing cards. They only need to get 4 across (or down, diagonal), and they hold 3 cards at a time. There is a card that is wild, and a card that can take a token off.

    We love Apples to Apples Jr as well, such a fun game!


  3. Rebecca says

    The only ones of those I have played are the top three lol. Sheesh, we could use some more games.
    We have hi ho cherry-o, which is an easy, quick game for the kids to play.
    A family game that we often play is, Disney Trivial Pursuit.
    My husband and I love to play Scrabble together.
    The only other games we have are checkers, chess, and card games.
    I have some great coupons for games right now, so I will check into the ones you recommended. Thank you!


  4. says

    LOVE Pass the Pigs!! My children play with the pigs and make up their own games with them, forget the rules their versions are so funny and entertain them for hours.
    I’ll have to look into some of the others I have one more gift I need and a game is perfect, now which one….


  5. Jori says

    We enjoy several of the games you listed as a family, and get together on occasion with friends to have a good game of Settlers.

    If your husband likes Settlers, a game he might also enjoy (and you too, since it doesn’t take all day to play!) is Carcassone. The rules are fairly quick to learn, but there is definitely some strategy involved.
    There are also several add-ons you can get for this game.

    One we also enjoy is Ticket to Ride.
    Tip: try the North American version first!!!


    Jessica Reply:

    Ticket to Ride is so much fun!


    Kim Reply:

    We love Carcassone & Ticket to Ride also!!!! All ages loves theses
    from grandma & grandpa to my 8 yo. This was going to be my comment.
    So I will second what Jori says!


    Andrea Reply:

    I was going to suggest those two as well! Good games and VERY kid friendly!


  6. Jennifer says

    We own a seasonal game store and you’ve picked a lot of our bestsellers! I want to put a good word in for Quelf as well. We are a family of all boys, like you, and our kids LOVE Quelf. It is a fun game of absolute randomness and allows you to be silly with your kids. They’ll be talking about games you played weeks and even months later.

    I also ditto another commenter on Blokus. A fun family game (although only for four players, we have been known to play teams) that helps kids spatial thinking skills.


    Michelle H. Reply:

    We have Blokus, and while the grownups do enjoy the game, my 4 year old actually gets the most use out of it. He loves to try to fit all the pieces into the gameboard without any blank squares. It’s amazing to watch this kid that never slows down sit quiet for up to an hour with that game!


  7. Kelly says

    My husband and I love Settlers of Cattan! For a strategy type game that’s even quicker and simpler than that we also love Carcasonne – great for a group or only two people. Railroad Tycoon is fun with a group, but takes longer. When I was a little kid my favorite games were Kerplunk and Pick up Sticks. I love playing games! I have a 3 year old, a year and a half old and a two month old and can’t wait till we can all play games together!


  8. Dacia says

    Love Blokus too!! My husband and I would get beat by our 5 year old daughter the first two weeks we played it!!! We finally figured out some strategy so that we can win occasionally now :) I’m checking into some of the other games you listed – never heard of Pass the Pigs or Quelf before!


  9. Penny says

    My husband and I LOVE Catch Phrase!! That is such a fun game! We have played it many times with other people (and with just him and I to keep entertained on long car rides) and it is such a fun way to spend time with others. We also enjoy the card game Phase 10. I bet your older kids would enjoy that as well!


  10. Laurie Plath says

    I like playing Mancala, because I usually beat my husband at it!!! It’s supposed to be the oldest game in the world and uses counting and estimating.


  11. Emily G says

    We play a game while we eat lunch during the week. It’s a light, fun way to enjoy each other again after a morning of schooling. I love Sequence States & Capitals – it’s just like it sounds… matching the states with the capital cities (and the kids are learning the shapes of the states!). We also love Blokus, Apples to Apples bible edition, and fast Scrabble (your own crossword in front of you not on the board). Great States is another geography game my kids really like. It’s got fun, weird state facts.


  12. says

    OOOohhh I grew up playing Mancala and LOVED it. Now, my husband and I love Guess Who and Scrabble. I am also a fan of Upwords, but he has never played. A little boy I used to nanny for was OBSESSED with Chutes and Ladders, so if I never see that game again, it will be too soon. Imagine FINALLY finishing the game only to play it again. No.


  13. Maggilou says

    I guess I’m rather old school (or perhaps just old LOL) but the first two I thought of were Monopoly & Clue. My brother & I loved Clue while growing & I played it with my children as well. Everyone had good picks! I love Pass the Pigs!


  14. says

    Two strategy games I really like are Alhambra and Pandemic. I’ve seen alhambra played by kids as young as 10 and they loved it, but I’ve only played Pandemic with adults. The great thing about Pandemic is that everyone either wins or everyone loses. This means you have to work together to beat the game instead of each other.


  15. Tricia says

    We love Sequence and Sequence for Kids in our house! Another favorite of the kids has always been Memory. I think we have 3 or 4 different versions. The boys have asked for some of the new LEGO board games this Christmas. While we haven’t had a chance to play any of them yet, I can’t imagine that combining two of their favorite things (board games & LEGOs) wouldn’t be a lot of fun :)


    Corina Reply:

    We just got UBuild it Sorry! and my guys LOVE it! Can’t beat combining their two loves – LEGOs and board games (especially Sorry!). It’s very fun, even I enjoy it, and a pretty quick playing game.


  16. Amber Rogers says

    Our youngest kids LOVE sequence for kids. It is played over and over. I don’t mind playing with them anytime because it is quick, which also keeps their attention and it is very easy, so no frustrated pre schoolers. Even the older kids enjoy playing with me, but maybe it is time to upgrade to the grown up version.


  17. says

    We love Ticket to Ride and also Carcasonne – Hunters and Gatherers. The best gift, though, was a $1 old Penguin Book of Card Games that my husband bought off amazon. We flip open that book to a random page and find a new game to learn. There are games for 1+ players, so we’ve gotten a lot of use out of that book!

    If you like sequence you’ll also like: Kazink.

    Qwirkel is also fun, as is Bohnanza (a bean farming game).

    oh, games!! LOVE them :)


  18. Penny says

    For everyone’s information….I was just looking through the Toys R Us sales flier for Dec 5 – 11 and they have Blokus and 2 other games for $18.89 – $20.99. They also have 5 different kinds of Sequence games ranging in price from $2.79 – $13.99. Hurry! Sale is until the 11th.


  19. Rhonda says

    We also love to play Cribbage (another older game). We can play with 2,3 or 4 players and also teams. It builds math skills and strategy skills. If I want some 1 on 1 time with one of the kids we will play and talk through things. Often I lose but the time together is priceless.


  20. Jen says

    We absolutely LOVE farkle! We usually play it with my husbands extended family(grandparents, aunts and uncles)when we go to visit or for holidays. His family loves games and he played them frequently while growing up, where as I didn’t. It’s great family fun and can get exciting since there is the element of risk involved if you want to go for the high points! I have also seen the Pass the Piggies game in the store and have been intrigued by it, might have to buy it for the kids this year for Christmas!


  21. Jessica says

    My family LOVES Farkle! Friends of my grandparents event made them a neat board to roll the dice on, it has a felt top so the sound is muffled. We play every time we go to their house :)

    They also have Sequence for Kids and we play it with my young second cousins. It’s generally the same concept, but easier for younger kids to understand. It a great game for them to learn to match and pair.

    Scrabble or Boggle are great games to learn spelling and vocab. We hate playing with my mom though because she insist on seeing your letters. She thinks there is always a better word :)


  22. says

    I actually love Chutes and Ladders!
    One strategy game that we like is EuroRails. Very fun, but it takes some time. We LOVE Settlers of Catan. I just tried RoboRally for the first time and it is a fun and very different strategy game.
    For card games we love Phase Ten and Skipbo. I used to like Spoons but it got a little dangerous around here. My family used to play Pitch a lot and I loved it.

    I really like the game Pandemic because it’s a strategy game where the players actually have to work together to save the world. It’s actually really nice to work as a team and it makes learning the game a lot more fun.

    By the way, we found that the Bible version of Apples to Apples can get a little old after a while, but if you mix it in with the regular cards it can be pretty funny!


    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, Bible Apples to Apples–If you have the Jesus card–you win!
    We actually have a funny family story about playing that game while I was VERY pregnant with Clara and I gave “miserable” (or something like it) to “the whale” saying, “I just think it would be SOO uncomfortable having a little man inside you.” Everyone just looked at me and burst out laughing!

    Roborally is one of our favorites. It makes me laugh so hard!
    Essentially, you “program” your robot by laying down cards at the beginning of each round. But if you “program” them wrong, or another robot knocks you off course, chaos can ensue! It is a great game for a group (up to eight) and for boys, little to big. I have a tendency
    to take games too seriously, but I can’t with this one! You should look into it for your family!


  23. Martha says

    Don’t waste the money buying the game Farkle – we’ve been playing that game for about 30 years – only is was called simply the Dice Game, and all you need is six dice. If you need instructions, you can look up the Farkle instructions online, but you do not need to buy the game.
    We have most of the games you’ve mentioned, and play games almost every day in this house!
    The kids and I have decided that this month we will play games every day together! So far, we’re doing it!


    pauline Reply:

    I agree!! We have always loved “The Dice Game”!!


  24. Martha says

    Along with the great games you’ve mentioned, Rummikub is one of our favorites, along with Oodles of Doodles, Make n Break Extreme, 5 Crowns, Set (always a great one), Solitaire Frenzy (similar to Dutch Blitz), Hand and Foot, Doodle Dice – oh, there are so many great games!!


  25. says

    One game I would highly, HIGHLY recommend is Ticket to Ride. Now, when I try to explain this game to people, they look confused. But you have to drive your train cars from one city to another (real cities) and you have to collect cards to do so. It is a strategy game too. We played it with adults and I loved it so much, I asked for it for Mother’s Day this year. I thought my 11 yr old would need a bit of hand holding as we played but she jumped right in and had it down pat quicker than we old adults did. We love this game. I’d recommend this version first: Or if you want an easier version with younger kids, start with the American version: I can not recommend it enough.


  26. Susan Alexander says

    If you want a game with true life-long educational relevance, I highly highly recommend “Cashflow”. There’s also a kids version (my girls aren’t nearly old enough, so we haven’t tried it). It’s very pricey for a board game, but it teaches you ways of managing your money that you’re probably unfamiliar with (we were!). We are obsessed in our house. We bought it off of Amazon used. Point to notice – it comes with cassette tapes or CDs of the author talking about investing and investment strategies. We accidentally ended up with the cassette version and had to borrow a tape player from a friend.

    Other games my family has loved are 5 Crowns, Rummikub, and Blokus.


  27. says

    Lots of good games listed already ~ We like Dutch Blitz and play Guesstures when we’re in the mood for charades. We had a great time learning Canasta last Christmas with extended family – you just need the rules and several(!) decks of cards. Oh, my dh’s family always like a game of Rook or dominoes (Mexican Train).


  28. Pam says

    Others have mentioned this, but Ticket to Ride is an amazing game! My son learned it at a very young age (the train pieces were his incentive) and we’ve been playing it, and it’s many versions ever since. My son has learned tons of geography because of it, too. Ticket to Ride Europe is slightly more complicated, but very fun. It’s a game that is seriously fun and that you can play over and over again.


  29. Julia says

    I just want to thank you for this list. I have a tradition of giving the kids a game each year. So far they haven’t truly enjoyed any of them. Boo. I have seen most of the games you listed but was always hesitant to get them (my kids range in age from 2-8) but maybe I will branch out now. I actually picked up Lego’s Creationary this year. Anyone tried that yet?


  30. Debbie says

    Wow, what a great bunch of games. Ones other people mentioned that we also enjoy are Blokus and Pandemic. Ones not mentioned before that we and our kids love are Cadoo (the children’s version of Cranium) and Brain Box (of which there are several versions).


  31. Lori says

    Our current favorite is Bananagrams. It is a word building game using tiles similar to Scrabble, but no board, and everyone creates words at the same time. Great vocabulary building for all. It’s easy to spot at the store…it comes in a yellow banana case ;)


  32. Keri says

    I am so with you on Chutes and Ladders. I have often said that the creator must not have been thinking about playing with a 4 year old that hates to loose!

    We were recently introduced to Quelf. Be prepared to laugh a lot when you play that one!


  33. Kate M says

    Quelf is sooooooooooo much fun!! Everyone laughs and has a good time! It doesn’t matter who wins because you’ve laughed the whole game! You won’t be sorry!


  34. Sara says

    Quelf is hilarious! Though your younger ones might need a little time before they can fully participate. I am so going to check out several of the other mentioned here…and for Bananagrams (a great game) you can play it with Scrabble tiles if you have them – we call it Speed Scrabble – just Google the rules.


    Martha Reply:

    I’m so glad you mentioned using Scrabble tiles for bananagrams. I had bananagrams on my list, but per your advice, looked up the game instructions, and it’s the same as a game that we call Pick, and we play it with Scrabble tiles!


  35. Jennifer says

    Two of our family’s favorite games are: Bananagrams and Dutch Blitz. I also love Taboo, Scattergories, and ImagineIff.


  36. says

    I forgot when you posted this to click through and mention that I haven’t played the board version of Risk for many years. Hubs and I bought the computer version for $10 or so and love it! It goes much faster and the battle scenes are amusing. You can use multiple computers if you’re networked, though I forgot how. Very fun!


  37. blair says

    farkle is $3 at walmart! thats regular price, not on sale..they have a few little games for $3… thats what i took to our christmas party with the ladies from church.


  38. Jana says

    Just wanted to come back and thank you for this list! I also buy games as family gifts for Christmas. We end up playing games all day on Christmas day and its nice to have new ones to play. I bought Pass the Pigs entirely based on this post. Had no idea what it was, but thought my three young girls (9, 6, & 5) would be able to play it. It is a lot of fun!!! We love yelling out the positions and everyone moans when someone builds a decent score and then gets a PIG OUT!

    Also bought Apples to Apples Jr., Harry Potter Clue (so worth the extra money for this version – our family LOVES it), Mexican Train Dominos, & Mastermind travel version. Our family also loves Blokus and two card games I picked up from Walmart for less than $5/: Swap & Blink.

    Thank you for this post!!! I’m going to check out some of the other games mentioned here as well as in the comments!


  39. Gaylene says

    I’m personally not into games that much, but there is one inexpensive game that we would play at my Nana’s place when I was a teenager with both family and friends. I lost count of the number of times I nearly wet myself from laughing so much!

    The Chocolate Game

    All that is needed is a block of chocolate, a knife (ordinary cutlery knife; the blunter the better), a fork, two dice (with cup) and a nice pile of various old clothes (that will fit everyone), including shoes. Oh, and an old chopping board is a must as well.

    The chocolate needs to be put into the freezer a few hours before playing, and grabbed out only as the game starts. Sit on the floor in a circle. Assemble your knife and fork on the chopping board, and place inside said circle. Place the pile of clothes to one side. Everyone has a turn at throwing the dice. When someone gets a double, they then proceed (with all manner of haste and no decorum at all) to put on ALL the clothes. If they manage that before someone else gets a double, then they sit inside the circle and eat the chocolate; but only by using the (blunt) knife and fork. If someone else trows a double before they have finished with the clothes, then their chance is over. We found that the faster the dice got passed around the circle the funnier it got. Especially when my mother was desperate for chocolate. Remember; more haste, less decorum is the key.


  40. MelanieB says

    Our 10yo loves games. The 8yo and 5yo are starting to enjoy games more thanks to the game ‘Have You Herd’. They love rolling the dice to collect animals and trading 5 rabbits for a sheep and 2 sheep for a pig. 2 pigs = 1 cow; 2 cows = 1 horse. The idea is to collect at least one of each animal. But beware of rolling a fox or wolf. We enjoy Blokus, Othello, Qwirkle, Take One(using Scrabble pieces), Farkle to name a few.


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