It’s that time of the year that I post my Holiday Game Picks — but this feels so much later than usual simply because Thanksgiving is the latest possible day it can be in November. There are SO MANY great games out there, so this was tough, but I stuck to 8 and made it a nice mix of types. If you need more suggestions please visit my well organized Amazon Storefront. Also, please note, all of the links below that go to Amazon support The Game Aisle. It won’t charge you more, but it will help with my hosting fees. If you’re not going to use an affiliate link pretty please go and support a local toy or game store. There are so many more games on the market because those stores are out there looking for different stuff than you’ll find on mass market shelves. So happy holiday shopping – hope you find this list helpful, it’s organized it by age:
Heads Talk, Tails Walk – ThinkFun
Ages 3+, 1+ players, 10 Minutes, ~$15 at Amazon Heads Talk, Tails Walk
Admittedly this is one of my games, but it’s gotten so much support and everyone I’ve seen play it loves it that I feel confident in adding it to this year’s list. It’s based on memory, but the fun starts when you flip an incorrect match. Then you must make the sound of the head and move like the body. Even if you don’t win it’s going to be a ton of fun for kids of all ages.
Concept Kids – Repos Production
Ages 4+, 2-12 players, 20 Minutes, ~$20 at Amazon Concept Kids
I love Concept Kids! It’s very similar to Concept, which I reviewed previously, but I think it’s BETTER as a kids game. The whole premise of the game is to mark images on the board to give clues as to what animal is on your card, while everyone else guesses. For an elephant you’d mark that its large, grey, has four legs, walks on the ground, and lives in the savanna. As a parent it was amazing to see how my daughter really enjoyed being “in charge” of the round and giving us clues. Top notch kids version of a game, although I would note that this plays well with younger kids (even as young as ~3). I wouldn’t buy it for a 7 year old.
Slide Quest – Blue Orange Games
Ages 7+, 1-4 players, 15-45 Minutes, ~$25 at Amazon Slide Quest
Slide Quest is like if a video game turned into a cooperative tabletop game. The goal of the game is to get the little knight safely through the levels by sliding him across a board with holes and plastic obstacles. This is done by moving little levers on the four sides of the board to tilt the game board, allowing the knight to slide across. There are levels, life points, and enemies to defeat along the way just as you’d expect from an epic adventure video game.
Color Brain: Disney Edition – Cardinal • Big Potato Games
Ages 8+ (we played with younger), 2-20 players (or less if you don’t to play on teams), 20 Minutes, ~$12 at Amazon Color Brain Disney Edition
I previously reviewed Color Brain: Disney Edition but I think it’s a great addition to this list because it brings something familiar to the game-playing experience. Not all of the questions are current, but if you’ve been binging on Disney+ you’re probably going to kill it! To quickly recap, the game is trivia and all of the answers are colors. A card might as for you to give the five colors of the Incredibles’ suits. Everyone plays at the same time and you can easily give a decent guess even if you have no clue.
Patchwork Doodle – Lookout Games
Ages 8+, 1-6 players, 20 Minutes, ~$18 at Amazon Patchwork Doodle
Obviously Patchwork Doodle is a twist on the previously reviewed game Patchwork, but it’s a lower price AND it can support up to 6 players whereas Patchwork is 2 players only. The game play is slightly different but it’s still easy to learn and you’re still filling your board with oddly shaped “patches.” Think is — YOU get to color in the patches! The game comes with colored pencils but adding your own art supplies is part of the fun. I will say that if you’re impatient about a game and going to play with an artist, this is not the game for you, but if you don’t mind a little extra coloring time it’s a great deal of fun. Patchwork Doodle also includes rules for solo play.
Just One – Repos Production
Ages 8+, 3-7 players, 20 Minutes, ~$15 at Amazon Just One
Just One is a cooperative party game that won the Spiel des Jahres this year and it’s so easy to learn. One player picks a card and randomly selects a number. They are going to have to guess the word that corresponds to the number they selected on the card using one word provided by each of the other players. But before they can see the one word each player has selected, all of the players confer to see if anyone duplicated their word, if they did – those clues are tossed out of the game. Since it’s cooperative it’s great for families with mixed age groups or anyone looking to have some stress-free fun!
Parks – Keymaster Games
Ages 10+, 1-5 players, 30-60 Minutes, ~$ at Amazon Parks Game
Please note the time on this game is well above what I’d normally post about, but this game is just so lovely it’s hard to pass up if you’re looking for a more in-depth tabletop experience. The artwork in Parks is part of the Fifty Nine Park Series (website) and it’s gorgeous. The game itself is played over 4 seasons in which your two hikers will trek through the National Parks gaining memories and gear hoping to end the year with the most “experience.” And in true-to-life fashion, you don’t win Parks by getting to the end the fastest, but by savoring the trek along the way.
Scattergories Categories – Winning Moves
Ages 12+, 2+ players, ~25 Minutes, ~$18 at Amazon Scattergories Categories
Yes, this is one of my games. And yes, it’s been on the market for almost a decade. At the last minute I’m adding it to the list because this weekend at ChiTAG I had multiple folks tell me — out of the blue — how much the enjoy the game. One even sent a picture afterward of how it sits on their “favorite games” shelf! Also, there hasn’t been a great speed word game on the list in a while, and honestly, it’s a really fun game that you can play with a small or large group. (Ignore the 2-4 on the box… we’ve played with 12) Play is almost opposite to classic Scattergories as players are given one category and lots of letters in the form of a word. Players write this word vertically on their scoresheet and come up with one answer in the chosen category for each letter of the vertical word before time is up. Unique answers score, just like in classic Scattergories. There are so many topics in Scattergories Categories, the game is different every time!
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