Mel’s Mini Holiday Gift Guide: Games, Games, Games!

Mini Gift Guide: Games, Games, Games

Disclaimer: this post is unsponsored (just sharing things I love); there are a few Amazon affiliate links scattered here and there. As always, feel free to shop around for the best deal!

I can hardly contain my excitement for today! I’ve been waiting a whole entire year (and keeping an insane amount of lists) so I could share some of our favorite things. Gift guides (good, practical gift guides) are worth their weight in gold. I read them like novels to get ideas for gift-giving and I because I love ’em, I love to share my favorites with you (and actually, many of my favorites have come from comments and emails you’ve left me – yeah, I love that).

I’ll be doing a couple other gift guides over the next week or so but today?

Today is all about GAMES! If you’ve read some of my favorite-things posts or gift guides in the past, you know we are a game loving family. It’s a little out of control. And boy, do I have some fantastic games to share with you today. I had so many games to talk about that I actually had to make myself scale it back to just 16 (I literally had double that number on my list).

These are games we are crazy about. Like, we play them all the time. Our game closet is packed with about 186 other miscellaneous games, but these (and others I’ve shared in the past) are the standouts. I know I always repeat this but for newcomers and as a reminder, while there are affiliate links below for games I’ve purchased at Amazon (feel free to shop around for the best deal!), none of the games below are sponsored by any company for review. It’s really important to me that you know I only recommend things that we genuinely love (basically no one’s paying me to blab on about these games). So let’s get started!

Mini Gift Guide: Games, Games, Games
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1. Bounce Off. A super fun, active game, it might get a little crazy (balls may have been known to bounce off brother’s heads in our house) but hey, when a game is played with as much as this one is, it’s worth it.

2. Doodle Quest. My sis gave us this last year and um, I wanted to kiss her feet because it kept my kids busy for hours (and still does). A great way to change up board or card games; this one is a keeper.

3. 7 ate 9. I’m not going to lie, this game challenges even me a little. It’s a really fast-moving card game that makes the kids think math facts are actually exciting. My brain hurts by the end (and my kids are usually teasing me about claiming 7 + 2 is actually 8 in order to win).

Mini Gift Guide: Games, Games, Games
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4. Ok, you guys. Stick with me here because this game you see right here? Battle of the UFO’s? It’s the game of the season. I’m not even kidding. My Aunt Marilyn has it at her house and we are hooked. HOOKED! Simplest concept in the world, everyone wildly releases their spinning top into the center where they all whirl around and crash into each other. Last top standing wins. We have never had as much fun playing a game. Ever (kids and adults alike). This is a true mom and pop shop type deal. I believe it’s a husband and wife team that makes these games out of their garage to sell them at trade shows. Hand crafted out of wood (this thing is solid), this is the most unique game and I can’t wait to surprise my kids with their own for Christmas. They’ll die. If you want one of these, act fast. From what I hear, there’s not an endless supply and you need to channel your old-fashioned roots and place an order by phone (it’s worth it). Check out the Battle of the UFO’s FB page for more details. And this video from a family that plays it is awesome (plus the mom’s hashtags made me laugh).

Mini Gift Guide: Games, Games, Games
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5. Splendor. So much strategy. This is Brian’s favorite game and the two older boys really get into it, too (a bit advanced for our 8 and younger crowd). Talk about deadly silent turns while the person is contemplating their future in jewels. It’s almost scary.

6. Snake Oil. Hilariously funny, this game just cracks all of us up. You basically have to convince people to choose your two-card answer and explanation, and honestly, the weird logic and funniness never gets old. This is a great game for all ages (I’ve been known to get the giggles so badly, I’ve had to be dismissed from the room).

7. Tenzis. My brother-in-law introduced this game to us at a family reunion in June and it was nuts. Nuts in the fact that we were all fighting to play it. I love games that are perfect for all ages and this one is just that. The adults were just as engaged (ahem, and competitive) as the kids. These idea cards are fabulous if you are serious about your Tenzis. If you have a larger playing crowd, the party pack might be the way to go (that’s what we have).

Mini Gift Guide: Games, Games, Games
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8. Animal Trivia Challenge. Pretty much the only game played on lazy Sunday afternoons. The questions are challenging enough for adults (with easier selections for younger kids) and I’m not going to lie, I feel a little proud that I can go around spouting off facts like how many thousand pounds of shrimp a flamingo eats in a lifetime. Often we don’t even pull out the game board, we just quiz each other with the cards to see how many we can get correct in a row.

9. Dixit. Speaking of favorite games, this is mine right now. I absolutely love the creativity of this game! And I am downright intense about choosing the right card. Seriously. You may or may not want to ever play this game with me. Love this one.

10. Race to the Treasure. I love the cooperative game series from Peaceable Kingdom and this simple, fun game is awesome. It’s definitely geared for younger kids but that doesn’t stop my older kids from fighting over who gets to play with the littles.

Mini Gift Guide: Games, Games, Games
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11. Forbidden Island. Another cooperative game but this time it’s for older kids/adults and wow, this is a huge favorite at our house. I can’t even describe the panic as the water level rises and everyone starts figuring out how to work together to win. We love this one enough to make me think I should look into the other versions (I think there’s a desert one).

12. Hoot Owl Hoot. Ok, last cooperative game, I swear. This is Cam’s favorite (she’s the resident 3 1/2-year old around here). And surprisingly it hasn’t gotten old for the rest of us. Simple as can be, I have to say I wish this was around when my boys were little. It’s such a sweet, fun game where everyone works to get the owls into their nests before the sun rises.

13. Cover Your Assets. Oh my gosh, this game. We’ve taken it on so many road trips and introduced it to just about every friend and family member we have (we even left it in the glovebox for our friends driving back from Utah to Wisconsin after the kids had stayed up until midnight – !! – playing it together). Everyone in our family (6 and up) play this and love it. Of course Brian always gives the kids a business/investing lesson after but they’re usually too busy counting their assets to care (and my Uncle Dan, a retired criminal investigator for the Navy, always, always giggles – in a manly way – when the boys scream “let’s play Cover Your Assets!” and they unintentionally slur the last word in the game).

Mini Gift Guide: Games, Games, Games
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 14. Phase 10 Dice. Nothing fancy here, but for some reason we prefer this over the classic cards. It’s a favorite for sure and amazingly, after having it for years, all the dice are still accounted for. Nothing short of a miracle.

15. Mastermind. Oooh boy, I have some hilarious stories about this game. But now is neither the time nor the place. Suffice to say that this might be my boys’ favorite game right now (an always changing target). It’s the game usually chosen on their “extras” (the night of the week they get to stay up 20 minutes later than their siblings and spend one-on-one time with me or Brian). I’ll admit, this version isn’t quite as sturdy as the one of my youth but it’s held up quite well in our house and I love how seriously thoughtful the boys get while playing. Just don’t ever choose a pattern of four pinks in a row for them to guess. That did not end well.

16. Ratuki. Say that ten times fast. Another fast-paced card game, this is a simpler version of Wackee Six and other games like that. It’s very, very fun and like all the others on this list, played very, very often.

I hope this has given you a good starting place for some awesome games! Leave any of your favorites in the comments below – sharing is caring.