At some point I’ll start an awards list or something but again this year I waited FAR too long and spent too much time covering ChiTag and TAGIE to get it out on time. Regardless, if you need last minute gift ideas or are looking to purchase something to entertain your family during the holidays and the long winter, here are some suggestions (and my top picks of the games I reviewed in 2010).
Okay, so I invented it – which is probably why I like it so much! But in all seriousness, I can’t remember having so much fun playing a game with a large group! It also plays well if you have smaller groups but there’s really no limit to the number of players who you can entertain with this game and with short, quick rounds you can play until the Christmas goose needs to be carved.
The ultra-adorable game Dweebies is GREAT for when the kids (aged 7+) ask you to sit down and play a game. Because there’s a little hidden strategy, adults aren’t bored and kids are happy to be playing something so cute! And the game is quick so if you destroy your younger opponents you can offer to play again without annihilating your entire afternoon. Bonus that it has a great looking tin package so it makes a perfect holiday gift or stocking stuffer.
Q-Bitz is an awesome way to get some quiet around the house – and I’m not just talking about shutting up the kids, it works on adults too! Since the game is all about recreating patterns with sets of dice, players are silently focused on the puzzles – there might be a groan or two when your 8-year old beats your mother-in-law for the fourth time, but get her a cocktail and suggest one or two more rounds; I’m sure they’ll all say out of your hair for a bit longer.
With it’s cute little plastic case, Scrabble Flash is the perfect game to leave on your coffee table to occupy guests who show up early or to divert their attention while you deal with any sort of disaster in the kitchen or wrap a last minute gift. It can be a one-player or multi-player game and the rounds are quick so it’s easy to fill 5 minutes or a half-an-hour. And the technology is magical so playing next to the Christmas tree is perfect holiday fun!
Yea, this game’s been a round for a while but so what?! I just found out about this game in 2010 and it’s completely my favorite game aimed at younger children but playable by adults. I also stink at it. But the little wooden chickens and the nice sturdy box make it a gift that you know will last far beyond the whirlwind of chaos on Christmas morning. Then again for $35 you would hope it could withstand almost anything a 4-year-old can do!
Like Chicken Cha Cha Cha, this game isn’t new but it’s new to me this year. I love dice games and this has quickly risen to my favorite multi-player dice game. It’s great for a small group of 3-6 players and you don’t have to be 100% focused on the game but it’s still got a lot of player interaction. While it’s a bit pricey, I’m sure you’ll play this one over and over if Santa leaves one under your tree.
I like the idea of this game a lot, but as I mentioned in the review, my play testers and I changed the rules a bit to make it better fit our group. Still, regardless of how you choose to play it (your rules, their rules, my rules, whatever!) drawing with sticks, stones and a little red arrow makes this game super accessable even for those who have had “drawing skills” on their wishlist for Santa for YEARS.
This one is really for the kids. The rounds are quick and you can keep 2-5 kids/tweens occupied for a while with this card game. And isn’t it worth $10 to know that the kids aren’t tearing apart the house looking for their Christmas presents, devouring the Christmas cookies or tormenting the dog? Think about that and how much time you just spent cleaning the place up. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Games that also got high marks but haven’t been played enough to make this year’s list:
Solitaire Chess (ThinkFun, $14, look for a review of this in 2011)
Thanks for reading and I hope you all have been good this year so Santa brings you lots of fun games! Happy Holidays! – Kim