Mel’s Holiday Gift Guide: All New Games! {Plus a Quick List of Old Faves!}

Is this the best day of the year or what?!?

I’m posting these annual gift guides a few weeks earlier than normal this year because a) so many of you have asked for them to go up before Thanksgiving and b) I love ya. In fact, I’m posting this game gift guide today, a gift guide for kids tomorrow, and a his + hers + kitchen gift guide on Saturday. Whoop! 

These gift guides (especially the games edition!) are some of my favorite posts to put together! If this is your first glimpse at one of my gift guides, none of the items I’m waxing poetic about are sponsored. They are just things that our family loves and that we’ve bought ourselves or been gifted from family or friends.

Disclaimer: most of the links below are Amazon affiliate links (where I’ve purchased these games), but feel free to shop around for the best deal!

Here’s a quick link to all the gift guides I’ve posted over the years

And here are past GAME gift guides:
Game Gift Guide 2015
Game Gift Guide 2016
Game Gift Guide 2017

Also, below the post is a list of some of our favorite games of all time (that I’ve posted in the past and are still going strong in our house today). As always, I love knowing YOUR favorite games, too, so leave any fabulous recommendations in the comments!

Here We Go! Games!


1. Double Ditto: this super simple (easy to explain) game provided at least 20 hours of entertainment at several family reunions/gatherings this summer. It’s fun to play with older kids , but the most fun was staying up super late playing with the adults. This is one of my favorite group games to play around the table!

2. Scrambled States of America Game: I bought this game on a whim a couple months ago when my kids were going through a geography phase (that actually is eternal and ongoing), and it is a hit! I have to admit I like playing it just as much as the kids. My 6-year old usually needs to be on a team with someone, but the other kids do great (it helps if everyone playing is within a few years of each other’s ages for fair play). 

3. Chameleon: another great group game, this was also the hit at my family reunion this summer. My friend, Deb, told me about it earlier this year saying her extended family had played it for hours. Same with us! The quick thinking and inevitable mess ups make it super hilarious and fun. This is definitely a mid-teen and older game (my younger kids have trouble catching on and aren’t as sneaky as they need to be at pretending to know the right clue).


4. Dragonwood: this game was recommended by several of you last year in the game gift guide comment thread, and we love it! This is an oft-played Sunday evening game. It’s clever and strategic and gets the ol’ brain working but easy enough to play for kids about 7+. 

5. Pass the Pigs: my grandma always had this game at her house when we were growing up and would visit in the summers. I totally forgot about it until my sister bought a set and I was reminded how quirky and fun and fast and entertaining this game is. It’s a favorite of our whole family. We don’t always follow the exact rules – we go around the table and add up our points based on our pig roll. I love that the whole family can get in on this one.

6. Outfoxed: perfect for those younger game-playing kids, if you are a fan of Hoot Owl Hoot (a huge favorite here), you’ll love this cooperative game that’s great for younger kids, but if you have good-natured teenagers, they actually have a pretty good time playing with their younger sis. 🙂 My sister introduced me to this game; her family of five love it, too.
7. Pit: another childhood favorite, my kids get just as excited (and so dang loud) playing this game as I did growing up. We love it for a good whole family game. All the kids (ages 6 to 14) and of course, me and Brian, get in on the action. Our good friends gifted us this game for a past Christmas, and I’m so glad they did! 

8. Kanoodle: this simple, fun, little game would make a great stocking stuffer! Easy to play, I like that it is a single player game – and it’s great for challenging those brain cells (young and old). I often find my kids playing this on Sunday mornings (or when they are avoiding bedtimes).  

9. Gravity Maze: I think I mentioned this in a quick post earlier this year about what we were doing to maintain sanity in the summer, and this gravity marble run game was a huge hit. My kids pulled it out (and the roller coaster game below) and played it almost every day. It’s a thinking game…that is super fun, too. Gotta love that!


10. ThinkFun Roller Coaster: like I mentioned above, this roller coaster game and the marble run game made summer days bearable and fun. The premise of both games is pretty similar – there are cards (ranging from easy to difficult) that give clues and then whoever is playing tries to complete the challenge. 

11. Solitaire Chessmy kids love to play chess (Brian made them a homemade chess board last year for Christmas with playing pieces put together out of nuts and bolts, and they play it almost every Sunday morning)…but this solitaire version is perfect for those times when they can’t find a willing chess opponent. It’s creative and fun, and I’ve even found myself playing it for a few minutes here and there (my chess skills are rusty and need a little brushing up). 

12. Happy Salmon: another fast paced, super easy game, the biggest disclaimer with this game is that it’s loud and chaotic. Needless to say, my kids love it! It is also pretty easy for all ages in our family to play and have fun (even if more often than not, someone gets an elbow to the face when a High 5 goes awry). 

13. BrainBox Around the World: I love this game so much! Another geography type game, this one also relies heavily on memory skills. We don’t play it as an official “game” so much as a fun trivia activity (it makes a GREAT car game). 

14. Catchphrase: another blast from the past, we recently introduced our kids to this game (and this new and improved Taboo game – did anyone else play and love these games??). It’s nearly impossible to find the original versions of either of these, but we love the new and improved ones. The new catchphrase doesn’t have as many categories as I remember the original one having, but it’s still fun. Both games require teams, so keep that in mind – great for convincing teenagers that playing games (not on their phones) CAN be fun. 🙂

15. Bocce Ball: Brian grew up playing Bocce ball (and lawn darts, although after his brother had to go to the ER twice in a week for a lawn dart gone wrong, I think they got rid of that game)…and this summer we bought a set (bocce ball, not lawn darts, haha) to play as a family. It has been super fun, although some of us are a tad more competitive than others. Ahem. 

Favorite Games From Past Years

*Even though it’s pretty much impossible for my game-loving soul to choose all-time favorites, here are some games that amid all the others are still getting played constantly at our house. We have a lot of other favorites not on this list (or up above in this year’s guide), so remember to check out the past gift guides for all the others. If it isn’t obvious already, we are obsessed with games!*

6 Nimmt (probably my favorite card game of all time)
Cover Your Assets
Bold
Enchanted Forest
Qwixx
Reverse Charades
Battle of the UFOs (we will never, ever get tired of this one-of-a-kind game)
Telestrations
Mastermind (Cam and Brian literally play this every Sunday and a couple times during the week; Cam is shockingly good)
Flimsee (one of our all-time favorite backyard games)
Code Names (another game that will never, ever get old)

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