If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know that Corey and I are big fans of board games. We love to learn new games, our collection is a little bit out of control, and we play games every chance we get. Our favorite time to play is when we have family gatherings – my family was always big into playing games together when I was growing up, and it’s a tradition we really want to carry on. We always have fun busting out a ton of different games when we gather for the holidays, so I thought today I’d share a few of our favorite easy to learn and quick to play games that would be perfect for Christmas weekend. Most of them are available on Amazon, so you’ve got plenty of time to get ’em here in time for your celebrations (or even for a really awesome stocking stuffer)!
If you want some other board game recommendations, you can see our favorite games for two people, our favorite games for a crowd, games that are toddler-friendly, and a new game we recently became obsessed with. Some of these games are repeats from the other lists, but generally speaking if you’re seeing certain games on multiple lists that means they’re our very favorites!
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- The Game. This is one that I can never get tired of playing. It’s a cooperative game where the deck consists of cards numbered 1-100 and you’re working to play all of the cards in the deck onto 4 stacks of cards – two of them count up from 1, and two of them count down from 100. It’s challenging but so rewarding when you do well, and we always end up shouting at each other (in the most fun way possible) every time we play.
- Lords & Ladies. This one can be hard to track down but it’s one of my very favorites! In this game, you’re playing as an aristocratic family and you’re trying to build the most prolific family tree you can. There’s gossip, backstabbing, and tons of really silly names for your lords and ladies (at least if you play with us there are).
- 12 Days. We always try to play this one on Christmas, but it’s fun all year long. The deck has all of the gifts from the traditional 12 Days of Christmas, and you use them to bid on different point cards throughout the game. Whoever ends up with the most points wins, and it can be really fun because there are some bonus scoring options at the end that sometimes shift the balance pretty quickly!
- Love Letter. This game only has 16 cards and it comes with a little carrying pouch that makes it really easy to cart around to friends’ houses (or even to a restaurant if you want)! It only takes about 15 minutes to play and is really easy to learn – we love playing this with people who aren’t big gamers, because everyone falls in love with it pretty quickly!
- Red 7. This game is a bit reminiscent of UNO, but way more fun. You’re working to win each round by playing the right cards to change the rules so that your hand is the one that wins. It’s another one that is really quick to learn and easy to get the hang of, and once you get started it’s just about impossible to stop.
- No Thanks. My parents love this game, along with anyone else we’ve played with who isn’t normally into the more complicated games. It’s a betting-type game that’s so quick to learn and fun to play. I think last year at Christmas Eve we played it 4 or 5 times in a row because we were all having so much fun!
- Sushi Go! The designs on this game are so stinking cute that the cards alone should be enough to make you want to play this game. If not, it’s also a really fun one! In this game you’re building a set of cards that will score you points, and you do that by choosing a card from your hand and passing it to the person next to you, then choosing from the new hand you get. You continue rotating hands until all of the cards are gone, and you score points as you go. It’s whimsical and a little silly, but tons of fun.
- Guillotine. The theme of this one always makes me giggle – you’ve got a line of people who have done some wrong and they’re waiting for their turn at the guillotine. You’re playing exocutioners who are trying to “score” by being the one to behead the most notorious people in line. It’s very silly but a lot of fun!
- Fluxx. This game is one that people always complain about when they’re first learning it because it seems really confusing, but by the time the first game is finished they’re always begging to play another round. The rules of this game are constantly changing as you go, and there’s a lot of strategy involved in this one. It’s fun, fast-paced, and totally different every time you play! (They have a holiday version too!)
- Hanabi. This game is so unique and it’s always a crowd-pleaser. It’s a cooperative game where you’re working to build a set of fireworks by playing cards in with matching colors and in the right order – the more cards you get into your firework the more points you score as a team. The only catch? You have to hold your cards so that you can’t see your hand – but everyone else can! So, you have to communicate carefully with your teammates to get them to play the right cards.
- Tichu. This game isn’t for people who don’t like more complex, strategy-focused games. It’s similar to Spades, but with a decidedly more complicated feel. It takes a little while to learn but once you get the hang of it, it’s one of the most fun card games I’ve ever played. We have some friends that we always play this one with, and I find myself enjoying it more and more every time we play it.
- Biblios. In this game, you’re trying to curate a collection of books that is better than everyone else’s. You score points by having the most points of certain colored books in your hand, and there are a few different phases to the game that incorporate a lot of different game mechanics. It doesn’t sound like the most exciting game in the world, but it’s way more fun than I expected it to be, and it’s one we reach for pretty often now.
- Council of Verona. This one is set in the story of Romeo and Juliet – you’re working as council members trying to either recruit people to the council or exile them, and you can place little influence tokens to earn points based on where people are. It’s really quick to play and seems to be a big crowd-pleaser because of the familiar theme.
- Spyfall. I LOVE this game, y’all. It’s great when you have a bigger group of people, and it always ends in fits of hysterical laughter. In this game, one person is acting as the spy, and everyone else is trying to seek them out. You all have cards that tell you what location you’re in (places like the grocery store, the beach, or the theater) and you all ask questions about the location. If you’re the spy you’re trying to figure out where you are, and if you’re not the spy you’re trying to figure out who is! It’s fun and always gets incredibly silly in the most wonderful way.
What are your favorite card games to play as a family? We’ll definitely be playing a few of these this weekend!