Looking for a way to spend time together as a family without heading out into the harsh weather? Before you grab the remote and park yourselves on the couch, consider hosting a laughter-filled family game night.
If you’re a big fan of the classics, try updated versions that include popular characters or simpler rules for younger ones—like Clue: Harry Potter Edition; Despicable Me Memory Game; The Game of Life Junior; Connect 4: Super Mario; and Candyland: Princess Edition. For those looking to expand your board game horizons, we combed through some of the newer favorites to bring you our top 15 picks (because there are only so many rounds of Candyland a parent can play before temporary insanity sets in).
Pie Face Game – If shoving pies in your kid’s face doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, then what does? Relax, you don’t have to bake a real pie. It’s just a little yummy whipped cream. The winners are the players who manage to avoid getting whacked in the face with a dollop of delicious cream, but this is clearly the type of game where when hilarity ensues, everyone wins. Hasbro.com • Ages 5+
Pictopia Disney Edition – If your family is like most American families, then you’ve probably seen your fair share of Disney movies and visited a Disney theme park at least once or twice. This game features 1,000 trivia questions to test players’ knowledge of everything Disney, and it’s usually a hit with both kids and adults. WonderForge.com • Ages 7+
Noodle Speedoodle – The tagline reads: “Grab a noodle and draw a doodle!” And that’s exactly what you do in this cooperative picture-guessing game for families. Like many games from Peaceable Kingdom, everyone works together and plays as a team, and there are no winners or losers—just lots of fun. PeaceableKingdom.com • Ages 8+
Dixit – Children are natural-born storytellers, and this is the type of game where the gift of creative storytelling comes in handy. Players take turns making up brief tales and their opponents must correctly guess which card describes each tale. It’s definitely a winner for kids and parents alike. en.Libellud.com • Ages 8+
Hoot Owl Hoot – This game is a real hoot for kindergarten crowd, who take turns helping owls fly back to their nest before the sun comes up. Kids will learn numbers, counting, colors and teamwork. PeaceableKingdom.com • Ages 4 -7
Move & Groove – This game is a top pick for toddlers, with simple rules and no skill required. Simply roll the cube, grab a card, then boogie down! Little ones will learn colors while building their confidence, improving coordination, and having a blast. ThinkFun.com • 18 months-5 years
Zingo – This twist on the classic favorite Bingo has the added value of vocabulary recognition for younger players. While Bingo relies purely on luck, Zingo requires more work than simply checking off numbers on a card –which keeps everyone from losing interest quickly. ThinkFun.com • Ages 4-8
Robot Turtles – If you think your child is too young to learn how to code, think again. This game teaches basic programming concepts to players as young as four years old without even using a computer screen. ThinkFun.com • Ages 4+
Apples to Apples Junior – Fans of the popular party game Apples to Apples can play this fun comparison game with their whole family now. The recommended age is 9+, but many reviewers claim to enjoy the “Junior” version with kids as young as five or six years old. MattelGames.com • Ages 9+
Spot It – With over 3,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, it’s hard to imagine anyone wouldn’t like this fast-paced matching card game. Simple instructions make it easy for younger players but fun for the whole family. Switch it up with different game versions, like Spot It Sports, Disney, Animals, Halloween, etc. There’s also a Junior version for younger players. BlueOrangeGames.com • Ages 7+
Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game – The rules are basic enough for early preschoolers to grasp, which helps young children understand basic concepts of board game play. Players get to use tweezers to grab acorns, which helps with developing fine motor skills as well. EducationalInsights.com • Ages 3-7 years
Ticket to Ride – Frustrated by games that rely on pure luck? This fun and educational game incorporates strategic thinking and decision-making with a little bit of geography. Players collect and match train cards to claim railway routes throughout North America. DaysOfWonder.com • Ages 8-12
Qwirkle – Upon first glance, this game looks like Scrabble for preschoolers. But don’t let the tiles fool you, the two are nothing alike. In this simple yet engaging game, players build lines by matching tiles based on either color or shape. Although recommended for ages 6 and up, it can double as a simpler color and shape matching game for the younger ones. But it’s also a hit with adults, making it truly fun for all ages. MindWare.com • Ages 6+
The Dinosaur Escape Game – Dinosaurs are big hit with any preschool crowd, so it’s no wonder a game where kids get to manipulate big dinosaur game pieces along a game board has become so popular. Players work as a team to save the dinosaurs from a volcanic eruption and everyone wins. PeaceableKingdom.com • Ages 4-7
No Stress Chess – The rules of chess can sometimes seem complicated for adults, but this game teaches chess in smaller, simpler steps. The board is two-sided, so once players have a thorough understanding of the game, they can switch from the beginner side to the standard chess side. Winning-Moves.com • Ages 7+
Little kids can play cards too!
Card games can be for everyone, but sometimes young players have trouble mastering the fanning technique required for grasping a whole handful. Gamewright’s Little Hands Playing Card Holder solves that problem for the tiniest card players with their handheld paddle that keeps cards in place. Learn more at gamewright.com or buy it on Amazon for $5.
By Jeannine Cintron