For the last couple of years, I’ve been doing holiday double duty, since my family celebrates Christmas while my boyfriend’s family celebrates Hanukkah. And while the traditions are interesting and different, they still have one thing in common—both of our family’s love a good tabletop game.
I grew up playing all the classic games like Monopoly and Yahtzee, and over the years (largely due to my obsession with all things gaming) I’ve expanded out into RPGS, dice games, and others to satisfy my analog longing. I know that sitting around with your parent’s to play Sorry! doesn’t seem like the most exciting thing, but there are tons of games everyone can enjoy before going on their merry ways.
Here are a few of my favorites, most of which have been personally tested and approved by my own family and me. Happy holidays!
Monopoly: Star Wars Edition
Monopoly has a reputation for being present at family gatherings—and for tearing said families apart. To be honest, most of my games of Monopoly as a kid ended in someone cheating or doing a table flip. Hopefully your family can keep it civil to play this awesome Star Wars edition. Instead of buying buildings, you’ll be getting planets and bases and using figures like Luke and Kylo Ren.
Monopoly Game Star Wars, $33.29, amazon.com
Trivial Pursuit: World of Harry Potter Edition
If you come from a family of Harry Potter lovers (what a lucky lady!) this is the perfect game to play after your holiday festivities. You and your fam bam can test your knowledge regarding the Dark Arts, Hogwarts, Magical People, and other categories from the magical world of Harry Potter. The game mostly focuses on trivial from the movies, so don’t get tripped up by your extensive book knowledge.
Trivial Pursuit: World of Harry Potter Edition, $19.99, gamestop.com
Betrayal At House On the Hill
This game is seriously creepy and fun. Betrayal at House On the Hill is a semi-cooperative game that pits the players against each other—with one person acting as the bad guy and the other players working together to defeat them—in a number of paranormal scenarios. Imagine how funny it would be if grandma has to act as a possessed child who’s trying to summon the devil while the rest of you try to murder her? Sorry gram-gram.
Betrayal At House On The Hill, $39, amazon.com
Cards Against Humanity
You’ll be surprised the kind of answers your relatives will throw down in Cards Against Humanity. The things I’ve heard come out of my 80-year-old grandfather’s mouth cannot be unheard. I know that this game isn’t for the faint of heart, but you know your family best.
Cards Against Humanity, $25, store.cardsagainsthumanity.com
Nothing gives you more anxiety than the threat of fake drowning after having a few glasses of wine at dinner. That’s what awaits you if you don’t snag the treasures of Forbidden Island before the whole place sneaks beneath the sea. Kind of nerve wracking, but you and your will have to work together to get off the island alive—so, family bonding!
Forbidden Island, $15.79, amazon.com
YAHTZEE: The Walking Dead Collector’s Edition
There’s just something about the sound of six dice rattling noisily around a plastic cup that makes you want to scream Yahtzee in your mom’s face. This Yahtzee is a little bit geekier, as it’s a special Walking Dead edition. The cup is a zombie head! If that doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, I don’t know what will.
YAHTZEE: The Walking Dead Collector’s Edition, $22.17, amazon.com
Teaching your non-gamer family to play a pen and paper RPG can be a difficult task, so consider Munchkin like RPG Lite. You’ll still get the RPG fun you like and everyone will be able to play along. You might have to play a few rounds for everyone to get the hang of it, but hey that just means you’ll get to play a lot. And if your family has some specific fandoms they enjoy, you can get one of the cool expansion packs.
Munchkin Deluxe, $18.89, amazon.com
Out Sherlock all your relatives as you hunt a criminal across London in Scotland Yard. It’s kind of like an analog Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and kids as young as 8 can play—so it’s suitable for pretty much the whole family. Maybe you’ll find a future detective among your siblings.
Scotland Yard, $28.50, amazon.com
Maybe I just have a thing for board games that make everyone have anxiety attacks or maybe I just come from a family of winners. Pandemic is a cooperative game where the players serve as the would-be saviors of humanity as the planet becomes slowly overtaken by a deadly virus. I like this game for families because no single player is enough to beat the virus—you all have to work together or everyone dies, y’all!
Pandemic Board Game, $25, amazon.com
Sheriff of Nottingham
So, obviously, it’s not cool to lie to your family—but that’s technically how you can win this game. OK, it’s not technically lying, more like bluffing, bribing, and negotiating your stuff past the Sheriff of Nottingham. And everyone gets to be the Sheriff a few times, which means you’ll really find out which of your family members finds you trustworthy.
Sheriff of Nottingham, $24.50, amazon.com
Ever wanted to debate which superhero would beat another in a superhero fight? Well, now’s your chance! Similar to Cards Against Humanity, Superfight involves each player throwing down a fighter and two power/problem cards. Then you guys verbally fight it out to decide who is the winner.
Superfight! Game, $26.24, thinkgeek.com