November is here, and I don’t know how it is for you, but for me it’s time to think about aaaaall of the gift shopping! Every year I set a goal to try and get all of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving, and it has never failed me. Some years I save a few things for Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales, but for the most part I’m fully done shopping and ready to enjoy the holiday season by the time Thanksgiving hits. It’s so nice to not have to think about it, and I highly (highly!) recommend this approach if you can.
Because I’m an early shopper, I always like to share our gift guides nice and early in the season. That way, they’re here and waiting for you whether you’re an early shopper like me or whether you like to wait until the last minute.
So, for the next few days I’ll be sharing all the gift ideas. And we’re kicking things off with one of my very favorite categories – board games! I specifically chose this category to share first because not only are games always a great gift idea, they’re also something you might want to stock up on before Thanksgiving! We love to play games over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I know many of you do too. So, let’s chat about some of my recommendations for both gifting to others and playing yourself!
2023 Gift Guide: Board Games
I can almost guarantee that when you read the rules for this game you’ll roll your eyes and not really want to play it. But, 10 seconds into the game you’ll find yourself laughing harder than you’ve laughed in a while, and when the first round is over you’ll immediately want to play again. It only takes about 90 seconds or so to play a round, and it’s shockingly so much fun.
You’ll get a stack of cards and each one has a different silly handshake on it. You flip a card over and shout out the handshake you have until you find someone with a matching card. You perform the handshake, then throw the card down and grab another one. The goal is to be the first person to run out of cards. This game is perfect for kids and adults, and a ton of fun in a bigger group!
This game always surprises me because it sounds so hard, but it’s always so fun! The board is a giant grid of colors laid out in a gradient. When it’s your turn, you’ll grab a card that will show you a couple of different colors you can choose from. You pick one color and then your goal is to get people to guess that color with a one word clue.
For example, you might have a really bright pink and choose “Barbie” as your clue. Everyone else has to try to put their marker on the exact right shade. You get a couple of chances to give clues and then score points based on how well you do. It’s not as hard as it looks like it will be, and it’s great for all ages!
This is technically a kids’ game but it’s perfect for a big family gathering like Thanksgiving! This is also a go-to for us for just about any elementary-aged kiddo’s birthday or Christmas gift. It’s a big collection of minute-to-win-it style games, and it comes with everything you need. Some of them are really silly, some are easy, some are hard.
Whether you pull this out to keep the kids busy or you all decide to play it, it’s genuinely such a great option for a family gathering. And, I can pretty much promise you any kid you gift it to will be thrilled with it.
This is another game that I had very low expectations for, but I might love it more than my kids! It’s similar to the old card game “Battle” that we all played growing up, but way more fun. Each player has a stack of cards with various pictures on them (like tacos, cats, goats, cheese, and pizza, among a couple of other things). You flip them over in turn and you repeat the name of the game one word at a time. So, the first person flips a card over and says “taco,” the next person flips a card and says “cat,” etc.
If you ever flip over a card that matches the word you say, you have to slap it. Whoever slaps first gets the stack! There are also a few specialty cards that have silly moves that go along with them to give you the stack. If you get moving quickly it’s really fun, and always ends in a fit of giggles! It’s a pretty quick game, can play quite a few people, and just about anyone can play along.
We all know Cards Against Humanity – well, this is the family friendly version! My kids love to play Apples to Apples (which is basically the same thing), but I find it can get old quick. This one is a lot funnier and has some more unique cards. But, of course, it’s family friendly and anyone can play!
If you’re sensitive to some slightly off-color humor (mostly toilet-related jokes), you might want to go through the cards before playing with your kids. But, generally speaking, the cards are all really mild and your kids are sure to find it hilarious!
This is one of our favorite games – it’s the perfect game for any kid but also a great game to bust out at a family gathering! It comes with some silly-looking goggles that make everything you look at appear upside down. You’ll draw a card that has a challenge on it (like draw a cat or pour water into a cup) and you’ll have to try to do it with the goggles on.
It’s way harder than you might expect it to be, and you’ll have so much fun laughing at everyone’s attempts! Everyone from our 5-year-old to my dad loved playing this together, and it was so fun to see which challenges were so much harder than we anticipated.
Sushi Go is a go-to for us at just about any gathering, and it makes such a good game. It’s a really unique card game where you try to collect the “best” set of sushi cards based on how many points they score. The catch is, you can only take one card from your hand to keep, and then you have to pass the rest around the table. So, you have to strategize quickly and try to plan ahead. It’s unlike most games you’ve played before, and everyone we’ve introduced it to loves it!
If I had to guess which of our party games gets pulled out the most, I’d be willing to bet money that it’s this one! It’s so easy to introduce to people and it’s always a ton of fun. In this game, everyone works together to try to guess words from a stack of cards. When it’s your turn, you flip your card so you can’t see it but everyone else can. Each person writes a one-word clue down and all of the clue-givers compare what they have. If anyone has written down the same word as someone else, they both have to erase the clue.
It’s fun to try to come up with a clue that no one else will think of but that will actually help the guesser, and it’s always hilarious when all of the clues but one or two get erased! Jackson loves to play this game, and it can play a ton of people so it’s great for big gatherings.
This game would make such a great stocking stuffer! It’s a ton of fun, can play 2-5 people, and only takes about 15 minutes or so. If you want to try something new but still love the classics, this game has the feel of the original Monopoly game without being nearly as drawn out.
Kids 8 and up can play this one, but adults will love it too. I love dropping a card game into a stocking, so if your family exchanges small gifts like this, it would be the perfect choice!
Similarly, I feel like it’s not a proper game gift guide if we don’t include some absolute CLASSICS! I’ve been playing Skip Bo for basically my entire life, and it never gets old! I’m a big believer that these classic games are iconic for a reason, and often as we grow up we forget how much fun they are!
Here’s a great gift idea for you – grab a couple of these classics like Skip Bo, Uno, and Phase 10 and bundle them together for one gift. Then, you can spend some time playing the games once presents have been opened! Or, if you aren’t looking for gift ideas yet, I’d recommend just pulling a few of these out at your next dinner party or family gathering. You’ll be shocked at how everyone immediately gravitates to them, and how much fun you have!
Alright, we’ve got another great stocking stuffer idea here! This game is quick and easy to teach, and it’s a blast every time. It is reminiscent of Yahtzee, but doesn’t take quite as long and has a few fun twists that make it really unique.
Jackson loves this game, and I always think games like this are great for practicing some basic math and reasoning skills with elementary aged kiddos! This game is perfect for families, kids, and adults alike.
If you listen to me on anything, let it be this: you want to play this game this Christmas with your family. We started this as a tradition last year and we had the best time. Ask everyone ahead of time to bring three dollar bills, and then instead of playing with the chips it comes with, use the dollars.
At the end of the game the winner gets to keep the cash! It’s a ton of fun, and my entire family gathered around in the living room shouting and laughing the entire time. It’s absolutely going to be a tradition from here on out, and I think it’s one that just about every family would enjoy! Of course, you can also play with the chips and have some sort of a prize for the winner, or just play for the glory.
If you have a really big group gathering, or a friend who loves to host game nights, this is the perfect choice! If you ever played the game “Mafia” growing up (we played it a ton in youth group at church!), this is basically the same thing. You have one person leading the game and everyone else receives a card that gives them a role to play. The werewolf’s goal is to kill all of the other players, and the other player’s goal is to catch the werewolf!
This game is silly and super unique and really great if you have a group who doesn’t mind getting really into it. We always find ourselves cackling playing this, and it’s full of deception and betrayal and hilarity.
This is another game we busted out with my family last Christmas, and it’s always such a good time. I always explain this game as the perfect blend between Telephone and Pictionary. Each person has a little dry erase booklet and gets a word or phrase. You draw it, just like in Pictionary, and then pass it to the player next to you. They look at your drawing, flip the page, and then write down a guess. Then, they pass it to the next person who tries to draw the clue they see written out.
Everyone is doing this at the same time, so you have all of these booklets floating around the room. Once they’ve made it back to the original person, you go through and see the evolution! There’s no winner or loser or even a real goal here – in fact, the worse you do, the funnier it is! We love seeing when clues go totally off the rails, and it never fails to end with tears of laughter.
This is a great gift for anyone who loves to host a game night and needs something a little unique to try out! You split into two teams and try to get your teammates to guess a specific spot on a spectrum between two extremes (like hot and cold, wet and dry, or overrated and underrated), based on your clues.
The idea is you have to all be on the same wavelength (get it?) to guess the spot, and you have to get really creative with your clues here! We love to play this game with other couples and split the couples up so no one is playing with their partner. It adds a fun element of challenge to it and always leads to a ton of fun.
This game is perfect for the friend who is obsessed with the color of the year and also loves to play games! In this game, you use Pantone chips to try to get your teammates to guess clues. It sounds really hard, but you’ll be amazed at how much fun it actually is! You can get really creative with it, and this game feels like a really fresh and fun take on a classic game structure.
This is maybe one of our most-played games of all time and it’s the perfect gift idea for just about anyone! In this game, you act as a jeweler trying to gatherer the best collection of jewels. It requires a fair amount of strategy and planning, but it’s really easy to learn and pretty quick to play. We pull this game out all the time for date nights at home, and we’ve introduced to tons of friends, too!
This game is the perfect intro for a friend who loves to play games but hasn’t dipped their toes into more complex board games yet. It’s a guaranteed hit!
This one might be right behind Splendor in the “most played” category. In this one, you play a tile-layer trying to lay the best pattern of tile. Again, it requires some strategy in a really fun way but it isn’t hard to learn or play at all. It’s the perfect game to play with a glass of wine and a good conversation. This is the kind of game that would make a great gift for literally anyone in your life!
A classic game that never gets old, and it’s a great gift or a fun game to pull out for a family gathering! It can play a ton of people, it’s really easy to learn, and it’s good for most ages. Jackson loves to play this one with us, and my parents (who hate complex games) really loved playing it, too!
You work as a team in this game (unless you’re just playing with two people, then you’re on your own) to try and place chips on the board in a row of 5. You play with a standard deck of cards (it’s included) and as you play a card you lay a chip on the corresponding spot on the board. It’s really simple, but shockingly fun!
We play this game exactly once a year, every single Christmas! I mean, how many Christmas themed card games do you know?! This one is played in 12 rounds for the 12 days of Christmas, and your goal is to win the card for each day and score the most points at the end of the game.
It’s really fun and easy to learn (Jack has been playing it for a few years!), and feels so festive. This would make a great stocking stuffer for everyone on your list and will become an instant classic.
And finally, another one of our frequent fliers for bigger gatherings! Codenames is basically like that classic computer game Minesweeper, mixed with a clue-giving game. It’s played in teams and each team has a set of words laid out in a grid that they need to get their team to guess. The problem is, only the clue-giver knows which words in the grid belong to your team.
You give one-word clues paired with a number to indicate how many of the words on the grid go with that clue. It’s really fun to try to come up with unique clues that can match multiple words (while not getting your teammates to guess the other team’s words), and anyone we’ve played it with always wants to play again immediately afterwards! This would make a great option for a gift for someone who loves to host, or for yourself if you’re hosting soon!
And there you have it. Twenty-one of our very favorite games that are perfect for gifting this holiday season, or for grabbing yourself to play with the family! This is definitely the season of games for us, and we spend a ton of time at every family gathering playing games from this list. I hope you find a few to add to your traditions, too! It’s such a special way to spend time together, and it creates so many special memories.
You can see all of these games (plus a few more I didn’t have room to include) right here on my Amazon storefront. That’s where I’ll be adding aaaaaall of the items on our 2023 gift guide as I post them, so stay tuned for more!