Panicking about what to give people for Christmas? Get them board games. Panicking about how you’re going to pass the time with a bunch of relatives or family friends you hardly ever speak to? Play board games with them. Panicking about what to cook for Christmas dinner? Board games!* Here are LockHouse’s recommendations for the best family board games for Christmas.
*LockHouse doesn’t recommend shoving any of your shiny new board games in the oven, but they’ll help you pass the time while you’re waiting for food to be done.
Settlers of Catan
If you’re buying a board game for someone who somehow hasn’t played Catan — buy them Catan! This iconic game sees players generating an island from hexagonal resource tiles, using those resources to build settlements and cities. It’s got tactics (choosing where and when to invest in building), luck (crying as the dice stubbornly refuse to give you the resources you need), and, best of all, trading (yelling desperately at your friends and family that you REALLY NEED SOME WHEAT). Every game deals out a new world to settle, and there are a bunch of expansions to dive into. We recommend checking out the official site for extra material and tips.
Ticket to Ride
If you’re desperately trying to avoid breaking out your ancient copy of Monopoly over Christmas, we recommend Ticket to Ride as a family board game alternative (that’s actually fun!). The premise is simple: build railway routes around the map, connecting stations and earning points. The original game connects cities around a map of early 20th-century America, while various different versions introduce different maps to explore (and a few new mechanics).
Trying to reduce family conflict over the holidays? Pandemic is a cooperative game about working together to avert various deadly infections sweeping the world. Each player takes on a different role, with different abilities, as you strive to save humanity in time. The high-stakes nature of the game, with the cards seemingly working against you to determine the spread of the diseases, make Pandemic a great (if tense) collaborative play.
Dixit is a creative game of image interpretation, using cards beautifully illustrated with surreal, dreamlike sequences. Taking it in turns to be the ‘storyteller’, players choose a card from their hand, and announce a theme, word, or phrase that fits the card. All the other players then choose the card from their hand that best fits the theme, and the players attempt to guess which of the selection of cards was the one originally chosen by the storyteller. But avoid being too obvious — if everyone guesses the storyteller’s card correctly, then the storyteller gets no points for that round! It’s a delightfully flexible game, and the simple rules and creative approach mean it’s fun for all ages. See the rules and browse the game’s collections of cards on their website.
Don’t have the time for a long game? Love Letter is the perfect stocking-filler: a quick, fun card game of deduction and risk-taking. Play cards from a hand of different ‘characters’, each with their own abilities, in an attempt to eliminate the other players and win the princess’s hand as the last player standing.
Need more board game recommendations? Check out our favourite games that take under 15 minutes, or stop by the store to browse our selection of board games. We also have a selection of games available to play for free in our foyer!