Gaming During the Holidays: Toss Monopoly Out With the Tree

Did you spend Thanksgiving hiding in your old bedroom while your dad watched football on TV, your uncle pilfered the china cabinet to pay off his bookie, your siblings fought over the last slice of cranberry bread, and your mom washed dishes with a bottle of wine in her hand? It sounds like you’re going to need some old school family bonding come Christmas, and another game of charades isn’t going to cut it. You’re going to need some of the best games your FLGS can offer.

Well, maybe not the best. What you really want are simple and friendly games that everyone can enjoy. It helps if the games are brief, and they should set up quickly too. Plopping Space Alert on the dining room table before the cranberry sauce is cleared won’t have you family rushing back to their seats. Here are some games that I’ve found to go over well over the years.

First, don’t forget Settlers of Catan. I have to throw this one right out front. If you’re reading this blog, you probably own this game and you don’t need me to explain it. Its famous for being the gateway game, so be sure to bring it to the party. If you’re family already enjoys Catan, try the brand new Settlers of America: Trails to Rails.

Two games that are great for kids are Dweebies and Pictureka. They both look like they are better suited for the younger members of your family, but I’ve found plenty of adults that have enjoyed them. Both are really easy to play and people love the art. These will definitely be enjoyed at the kids table.

For those who have a taste for war with their egg nog, try Small World. Unlike most war games, it doesn’t take hours to play. The fantasy theme may not entice some of your family, but the game is an easy sell if you compare it to Risk. Battlestar Galactica is another good choice for a game with a military angle, although it isn’t really a war game. It’s a game about deception, which is the perfect way to get your family to bond during dessert. The game is simple, but make sure everyone knows how to play a Cylon because they’ll be left to their own devices once the game begins.

While it may seem out of season with Halloween behind us, Betrayal at House on the Hill is a great idea too. I’ve played this game with more non-gamers than most other games, and it usually seems to click with people. A brand new edition just released last fall, so it isn’t impossible to find like it once was. And if you think your family is really interested in an adventure game, try introducing them to Dungeons and Dragons with the Castle Ravenloft board game.

If your Aunt Esther refuses to play anything other than Yahtzee, see if you can convince her to play Roll Through the Ages. Roll Through the Ages is similar to Yahtzee, and people really dig the wooden dice. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, so it will leave plenty of room for pie and coffee.

If you want a little more meat on your civilization building, try the brand new 7 Wonders. I enjoyed it recently, and it’s getting some good buzz. It doesn’t have an excessive amount of bits and pieces, but the few components it uses are well done. Beside the boards that each player is given and a few wooden coins, 7 Wonders is basically a card game. Everyone takes their turns simultaneously, and it didn’t hurt the game much to ask for assistance during gameplay. Like Settlers, there are several paths to success, which helps from anyone getting to far behind.

Good luck getting everyone together at the game table this holiday season, drive safe, and enjoy.


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