When I was a kid, there was a shelf in our family's spare bedroom that was filled with board games. My sister and I made a lot of trips in and out of that room to grab games that would have us spending hours at our kitchen table with bottomless bowls of chips. We played them with each other, with neighbourhood friends and with our cousins during epic sleepovers.
I knew I wanted a board game shelf when I had my own kids and we have built a pretty impressive collection, stocked with a lot of the classics from my childhood (Sorry, Monopoly, Twister, Trouble, Boggle, Scrabble). But, thanks to the creativity and genius of today's game designers, we also have several lesser-known games that are fantastic.
Here are my family's top five favourites (for now, because we're always looking for more). They are games that suit the number (four) and ages of our kids (six to fourteen).
You flip a card and both players try to recreate the pattern by bouncing their balls into the grid. Whoever does it first, wins the card. Truth be told, this is a great game when my youngest is out of sorts and needs a good redirect and a way to let off some steam or spend some one-on-one time with me. It's also a great playdate game because you don't have to spend a lot of time explaining rules.
APPLES TO APPLES (and APPLES TO APPLES JUNIOR)
This is a hilarious card game that actually works on descriptive language and writing skills the sneaky way (by making it fun!). One player acts as the judge and chooses a descriptive card for each round (with adjectives). Each player has a hand of cards from which they choose a thing they feel best fits with the descriptive card. The judge chooses the best combination (and some of them are pretty hilarious) and that player then wins the card. Everyone gets a chance to be judge. This game was so popular that several versions have since come out, including Apples to Apples Junior (age 3+) which we added to our collection so our youngest could play, too.
Okay, so the video above shows a pretty tame round of this family favourite. When it's played at my house, there is a LOT of whooping and hollering and laughing until we have to dry our eyes and blow our noses. My kids LOVE this game (and so do the grown ups). It's become our go-to game when we have friends over, too, because it's the perfect icebreaker. It's easy to teach and so fun to play.
**We recently bought the Telestrations After Dark version (ages 18+) and brought it a holiday gathering — I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.
This card game was recommended to us by another family with four kids. We managed to find it in an educational store (for teacher supplies) and it's been a game that goes everywhere with us since. The best part about this game is that it was dreamt up by a real life six-year-old, when she couldn't fall asleep one night. And because of that, the game makes perfect sense to its pint-sized players. It strengthens math, memory and strategy (you've got to wake those sleeping queens!) skills without your kids even realizing it. Two parenting thumbs up!
This hilarious card game made its way to us via the business section of the weekend newspaper. JB read an article about the Kickstarter campaign and how wildly successful it had been for the creators of this game. When he read more about how the game was played, he decided to would be a good gift to put under the tree last year — he shares a really good sense of humour with our kids. From the moment they opened the box and heard the "meeeeeoooooooowwwww" they've been hooked. This is also a highly portable game that always comes camping with us and always ends up being tons of rowdy fun.
We've got a few more days to come up with this year's under-the-tree family board game idea, and I would love to hear your suggestions. I hope this post has given you some good ideas. Feel free to ask any questions you might have. Happy gaming, everyone!