Your brother is a Monopoly fiend, and Uncle Bob loves a good Battleship match (even though he gets a little, uh, competitive). But now that you’ve all got those classic games figured out, why not keep the whole fam on their toes? This year, surprise everyone with a game that brings out their creative side, problem-solving skills or acting chops. Here are ten of the best board games to give and play immediately after the gift swap. Isn’t instant gratification the best?
1. Just One
This game is not only addictive, but also super easy to learn and teach, so you don’t spend the first half hour explaining it. Joseph Comings, founder of the Art of Boardgaming, told the Strategist that the game is suitable for both introverts and extroverts alike and can be “learned in a matter of minutes.” As for the premise: players help their teammates guess a word by suggesting “just one” word as a hint. A right answer equals one point, while a wrong answer takes two points away. The first team to get as many points out of 13 as possible wins.
As the name suggests, this board game is all about pitting you and your teammates against an outbreak of life-threatening diseases across the world. But how do you win? It all comes down to your ability to communicate and stay cool under pressure while you try to keep outbreaks under control and develop a cure for each disease by collecting five cards of the same color.
3. Heads Up! Board Game
While the app game isn’t brand new, this board game version is ideal for parties, because it gets everyone to step away from their phones and get into the competitive spirit. Instead of holding a word up on your screen, this edition features over 200 cards, six headbands to hold the cards and a sand-timer to keep everyone in check. Teammates will race against the clock to figure out the names on their headband, using their partner's clues.
4. When in Rome Travel Trivia Game Powered by Alexa
This educational game is a great way to use that new Echo device you just got for the holidays. Utilizing an Alexa Skill, you’ll answer multiple-choice questions from voices around the globe. The questions range from easy to hard, so anyone can play and pick up some useful facts along the way. If you get the questions right, the local will become your friend and you’ll move along to the next city.
5. Beasts of Balance
This game is kind of like reverse Jenga. The point is to stack and balance awkwardly shaped 3-D creatures on a special base without causing them to fall over. Bonus: Each of the game pieces looks like abstract art that would add a little personality to any bookshelf you store them on.
6. Funemployed Card Game
Ever wonder what it would be like to apply for a job as a supervillain, drunk uncle or hitman? This game makes everyone pitch their skills (made up or not) to try to get the job, which can often lead to everyone bursting out in laughter. It’s a great alternative to Cards Against Humanity and can be played in groups of up to 20.
7. Concept Kids
Have a room full of kiddos on a sugar high? Bust out this entertaining board game. It goes like this: One kid gives clues to get others to correctly guess a secret animal, but they can’t speak or act anything out. They can only use icons on the board to give clues like slow or fast, small or big, eats meat or eats plants, etc. And that’s exactly why parents love it (hello, peace and quiet).
Monikers gets its premise from the classic parlor game called Celebrity. Players give clues to teammates to help them correctly guess what’s on the card, which could be anything from Britney Spears to a viral video or concept. It’s beloved by pop-culture junkies of all ages and it can be played by up to 20 people, so no group is too big.
9. Codenames Board Game
A fantastic mix of silliness, trivia and strategy, the name of the game is to invent single-word clues that guide your team toward particular cards laid out in a grid on the table or floor, while avoiding the words that belong to the other team. You can use any type of clue—from rhymes to synonyms—but no hints are allowed to be given beyond that.
10. Pinch 'N' Pass
There’s always the one person who doesn’t like board games but doesn’t want to feel left out. Here is your solution. It’s super easy to get the hang of and anyone can join, whether or not they’re super active, because there are no turns. Simply select a “Pinch” card to be given a category like “Madonna songs.” Players then shout out something that fits the bill to snag the card for themselves and as others call more songs out, they can steal the card. The last person holding the card when the timer ends gets to keep it and advance. Alternately, drawing a “Pass” card puts you back a space if you’re left holding it at the end of the round. To make it even more competitive, the timer is randomized, so you never know how long you have left on the clock.
PureWow may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from PureWow's editorial and sales departments.