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Instead of buying individual gifts for members of a family, choose a game they can enjoy together. It's a cost-effective option that will delight all recipients.
Instead of buying individual gifts for members of a family, choose a game they can enjoy together. It's a cost-effective option that will delight all recipients.

Looking for a new way to enjoy family time together? Family games are designed to be as inclusive as possible and get the whole household playing. Their rules are typically straightforward and easy to learn so that even the youngest players can play without assistance. Some games are lightning fast, making them perfect for short attention spans and limited time frames, while others are more involved and encourage a couple hours of undivided — and screen-free — attention to the game.

There's a game out there for every family. To find the right one for your house, read our buying guide. We're including our top pick, Exploding Kittens Card Game, which offers a mix of luck, strategy, and fun that makes for plenty of exciting game nights.

Considerations when choosing family games

Age appropriateness

Family games aim to include all members of the family, but realistically, some games are better suited to certain age groups than others. If you have kids who can't play a certain game independently, you might be able to have kids partner with adult teammates to keep them involved. Some games are adaptable, too, as they feature kid-friendly gameplay tweaks so kids and adults can play the game at their respective skill levels.

Choosing games by interests

To choose a game that appeals to everyone, consider their interests and personalities. You can also choose a game based on a preferred gameplay style.

If everyone shares interest in a sport or TV show, choose a themed or licensed game. If your family likes card games, opt for a casino game set with poker chips or an Uno deck. If your family enjoys wordplay games, choose Scrabble or Crazy Letters. If your family likes trivia, choose games like Trivial Pursuit or the Logo Game.

Choosing games by number of players

It seems pretty obvious to select a game that accommodates your anticipated number of players. It's nice to choose one that all members of your household enjoy, but what if you have guests over? To ensure that your game night continues without a hitch, you might want to double up on certain games like Twister or pick up expansion decks for games like Apples to Apples.

Luck vs. strategy games

Luck-based games are generally fast-paced and have a pretty level playing field. Since winning doesn't always boil down to who plays better or smarter than other players, it's fun to let the games unfold. Children benefit from playing games with an element of luck as it helps foster decision-making skills and adaptation to unexpected circumstances.

Strategy-driven games are a bit more cerebral, but it doesn't mean that only older children and adults can play them. There are plenty of kids' games that require some strategic planning, like Monopoly Junior or Stratego. Since these games are more involved and essentially have more moving parts, they take longer to play and require better attention spans.

Price

For budget-friendly family games, you can find a variety of board games and simple card games for $10 and below. Classic board games are typically priced between $10 and $20, and newly popular indie family games cost between $20 and $40.

FAQ

Q. What kinds of games are better for a mix of adolescents and adults?

A. Themed board games are a good option, as are trivia games. These involve a combination of strategy and teamwork, so they're more engaging options than some classic board games. Card games with advanced rules, such as poker, also work.

Q. What kinds of games are better for a mix of young children and adults?

A. Picture-based games and card games are fun, especially if kids aren't independent readers yet. Classic board games with familiar characters from TV or movies help kids better connect with the game and understand its rules.

Family games we recommend

Best of the best: Exploding Kittens' Card Game

Our take: Funny fast-paced game for those with a quirky sense of humor.

What we like: For two to five players. Gameplay is a mix of strategy and Russian roulette that intensifies toward exploding kittens the longer you play.

What we dislike: If you're adding new players, there's a bit of a learning curve to get everyone caught up on the rules.

Best bang for your buck: Hasbro's Jenga

Our take: Budget-friendly, all-ages game. Taps into skill, strategy, and coordination.

What we like: For two to six players. Games are short and setup is simple with block holder.

What we dislike: Some quality concerns with blocks and block holder.

Choice 3: Mattel's Apple to Apples Junior

Our take: Kid-friendly version of the engaging word/card game. Fun for all ages.

What we like: For two to 10 players, sometimes more, considering deck has almost 600 cards. Rules are easy to learn and decks can be combined with other ones.

What we dislike: Reading is required, so it might not be best with younger players who aren't independent readers.

Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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