The Best Board Games To Play This Christmas

The Best Board Games To Play This Christmas

It’s Christmas! There’s a good chance you’re about to be inundated with an influx of relatives. Is this person a first or second cousin? It doesn’t matter, they’re sleeping on a trundle bed in your living room and they smell weird. The best way to diffuse the tension (or create new tension, depending on what you choose) is to bring out a board game.

Board games add structure. They give you a shared activity, and they keep your nosy, judgemental aunt out of the kitchen long enough that whoever is cooking is less likely to stab her just to stop the “helpful hints” about why the potatoes are wrong. 

We have all been there.

So, here are some of my suggestions of what to play this Christmas to either keep the peace, or emotionally destroy your least favourite cousin (both aims are admirable).


prime day
Image: Carcassone / Z-Man Games

This is an absolute classic game. It’s easy to learn, you don’t need to be overly familiar with any games beyond the classics to pick it up, and everyone can have a good time with it. It’s has some aspect of strategy, but it’s forgiving to those who are new, and it has some aspects of random chance, but the whole game can’t be ruined by one bad draw. This is a game that my entire family has become obsessed with. We got the big box with 11 expansions, and now every game takes about two hours to play. But, without the expansions, each game is about 30-40 minutes.

Ticket To Ride

This is an absolute classic, and I like to describe it as “what if Monopoly was good”. There is no money or dice rolls, but you have to collect cards to place trains to fulfil ticket objectives. It’s another game that’s really easy to pick up, and there are lots of different kinds of boards, so you can pick a region that’s meaningful to your family. London is good for two players, but I recommend the USA board for 3-5 players, because it’s the most simple to learn (and still really fun).

Racoon Tycoon

This is another “what if Monopoly was better” game, because it’s about capitalist woodland creatures and domesticated animals. Here there is money, but no dice. There are some cards that seem to give players a huge advantage over the others, so if you find that they make your game lopsided, you can just take them out. But it’s a good game for young and old, and it’s quick and easy to learn.


Image: The Board Game Family

Azul is a modern classic, and I love it so dearly. Classic Azul is all about placing Portuguese tiles on a board. There are ways to lose points and ways to absolutely destroy your competitors if you get strategic about it. There are also different versions of Azul you might want to explore. Stained Glass of Sintra has more opportunities for evil and hurting your opponents (if that’s your jam), while Summer Pavilion is much kinder to all players. Queens Garden adds new complications for when you want another challenge.

One word of advice is that the instructions in the box seem pretty confusing. It’s such a simple game, but it doesn’t seem that way from these instructions. So, I recommend looking for a video tutorial, which should have you up and playing in no time.


Image: Libellud

Dixit is such a beautiful party game. In a way, it’s like a kind Cards Against Humanity. Everyone gets a hand of art cards with different pictures. The person whose turn it is says a word or phrase they associate with their picture and then places it face down, then everyone else chooses a card from their hand that they think matches the prompt. After that, all the cards are revealed and people have to guess which they think was the original picture. It’s a game of how well you know other people, and how well you can get your point across. I always love how much insight you get into your fellow players when playing, and it’s more of a way to facilitate conversation and understanding than it is a battle to win. It certainly needs the right family to make it work, but if you have that, it’ll be great.

Dorfromantik: The Board Game

Some families should not play competitive games, and that’s ok. This game is cooperative, so you all have to work together to try and do as well as possible. It’s probably better for a smaller group, but it’ll still work for the quoted maximum of 6 players. Together you have to place tiles to satisfy the needs of the town you’re building for. It’s nice, it’s simple and it’s less likely to end in a huge family argument than my family’s old tradition of playing Risk at every event.

Block Party

This game is hilarious with the right group. It’s like Pictionary, but no one has to know how to draw. You have blocks, instructions on what you’re trying to convey, and a time limit to build your vision. Young and old will have a good time, as long as they have decent fine motor skills (or a grandchild to follow their instructions).

Steam Up: A Feast of Dim Sum

I love this adorable game so very, very much. Each player has different objectives, depending on which character card they choose at the start, but the goal is the same: collect delicious dim sum, earn points, win the game.

I strongly recommend spending the extra to get the deluxe version of the game, which comes with adorable little rubber dim sum, rather than just cardboard tokens. I found that using the tokens really added to the experience.

It’s easy to learn how to play, and it seems like an appropriate game for a day of feasting. The whole family will love it.

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