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Wednesday, August 22, 2018


Now that we're back to school, obviously the kids aren't home as much... our schedules are busier and we're all going different directions more often.  So, on the occasions we are all home in the evenings at the same time, we find ourselves playing one of our favorite family board games.  Whether we have 20 minutes or several hours, it's always a good way to reconnect (without screens!). And knowing that dark, cold winter evenings will be here before we know it, we always welcome fun new game suggestions so I thought you might enjoy seeing some of our favorites if you want to add to your collection too!

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Designed to simulate train routes across the U.S., players collect cards of various colors which they can trade in for a "route" they want to claim between cities, scoring points as they go for the difficulty of their route.  There is strategy involved for choosing your routes, and the player with the most points at the end wins.  This one is probably best for ages 8 and up, and especially fun for the train lovers in your family!

Stack the round cards in a deck face down, then use the color on the previous card played to determine what color "ring" you're playing.  Decipher a word from the letters in the ring, whoever gets it first collects the card, and the first player with 10 cards wins.  You must think fast, this one is super fun!  (Example- top left card... black ring: COMPUTER, red ring: FRAGILE, blue ring: ?? guess!)

A strategic game where you collect "gems", develop them by collecting various cards, then acquire more to create beautiful pieces of jewelry.   This is a newer game for us but we've enjoyed playing, probably best for middle elementary ages and up.

Hands down, our favorite party or extended family gathering game.  Think fast to describe a word displayed on the screen while your team tries to guess (without saying any part of the word!), all while a timer is running.  Really best played with a larger group, but even little ones can join in and play with a partner if needed.  The kids love to play it when there's a bigger group of their friends gathered, too.

A classic... it's our biggest go-to game when we only have a few minutes here or there.  In fact, we keep the dice and score cards right by our kitchen table and pull them out for a quick round when we can or to play during a casual breakfast or lunch.

Fun for family or for the kids to play with their friends.  When it's your turn, read a question.  All other players write their answer on a dry erase card.  The question asker then chooses their favorite answer while players try to guess which one they chose.  We have the original version but the Family Edition would be fun too!

Easy to learn, strategically connect different patterned blocks of your color together on the board.  Fit as many as you can on the board to gain the most points.

My personal favorite, I've played since I was a child... it's an oldie but a goodie!  Work your marbles around the board from base to home, but watch out for other players who might knock you out and send you back to base.

A super strategic adventure game.  We have this and are still learning to play (Youtube tutorials rock for new games!) and I want to get it down so this can be our cold winter nights game this year.  I have so many friends that rave about this one as their family favorite, I'm excited to get the hang of it.

A simplified version of the original where you work around a collection of islands to build hideouts and gather ships and resources.  We've played this one for several years, lots of fun for even young ones (5+) and it builds strategic skills.

This is a box full of cards containing discussion starters.  Some are silly and light hearted, some are deeper and might encourage kids to talk about issues that they normally wouldn't bring up. This is technically #11 on my list and I didn't include this in our favorite top 10 because the kids groan and roll their eyes when we pull it out, but I think it can be a useful tool in starting discussions with your kids.  Our kids don't "play" this together, we use it as a family discussion tool.  Some versions have a board, but the pocket version is just a set of cards/questions, and I see no need for the board since we just use the cards for discussion topics.  We have the  Teen Version, and I will say that I filter through the questions depending on my purpose (some deal with issues like abuse, teen sex, etc. which definitely have a time and place to be discussed, but maybe not in a lighthearted moment around the dinner table) but in general there are some good conversation starters.  It's nice to stick a few in the car to use from time to time while driving back and forth too!  There are several different versions available (Christian, kids, teens, families, couples, seniors...) depending on the age of your kids or your purpose.

So does your family have a favorite that's not on my list?  I'd love to hear about it!

best board games, family games, family activities, yahtzee, catan, aggravation, splendor, word a round, blokus, ticket to ride, catch phrase

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  1. Great suggestions. We have close family friends who are big gamers. I might need to add one of these to their collection at Christmas.

  2. Our go to game when all the family gets together during the holidays is Scattergories. It has sparked some hysterical and very creative answers that we laugh about year after year. Even my 7 year old nephew was able to catch on pretty quickly last year with a little help from those of us who were trying to teach him. His attention span waned before the game was over as he started making up words similar to the way some kids like to make up knock knock jokes that make no sense, but we had a great time while he was able to stay focused. Thanks for the recommendations!

    1. I haven't played Scattergories in so long! I think my parents have it at their house, we need to dig that out!

  3. Forbidden Island; we also have Ticket to Ride Europe which has a few twists; my brother introduced us to a new game called Sagrada that was fun.

  4. Thank you! There are so many new games out there that I don't know which one I should be trying!

    1. Hope this list was helpful! I know, it's a bummer to get a new game that's not fun. ;)

  5. We enjoy Yahtzee, Catch Phrase and Catan at our house too. Apples to Apples is another favorite. My nephew is a huge Ticket to Ride fan but I have never played it.

    1. We haven't played Apples to Apples in a while, need to pull that one out!

  6. Codenames is our favorite game! We have yet to meet anyone that doesn't love it!


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