With all of us having separate screens, it's all too easy in this day and age to spend time in the same room yet all be lost in our own digital worlds. If you want to get everyone together and bring back face-to-face family fun, a board game night is a perfect solution.
Whether it's a holiday or just a family gathering or party, a board game can give you the structure to make sure everyone feels included and, most importantly, like they're having a great time! But where to start? We've looked at a range of options, suitable from families with the smallest toddlers to the oldest adults, so you can find something for everyone.
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Once you've managed to get everyone to sit together and play a game, you want to know what you bring out will be suitable for all your excited players. We've highlighted a few things to look out for so you'll know which is right for you and your family.
First and foremost, you want to make sure that your potential players can all understand and enjoy the game you're putting in front of them, whilst also avoiding any safety risks. Here are our top tips.
Board games with complicated rules that require mental dexterity may be fine if it's you're an adult and teen family, but they aren't going to be good for players under the age of about 8, particularly when these games normally demand concentration and focus.
For younger players, you want games that are interactive and keep the fun coming thick and fast. Striking the balance between entertaining older players and keeping it kid-friendly can be tricky, but another way to keep you on track is to check the age recommendation on the box before you buy.
In addition to a need for concentration, intricate games often have small parts which might be difficult for clumsy toddler hands to manoeuvre. These can even be a chocking hazard, so should always be supervised.
You want to get out a board game knowing it will be fun for all the family, not a cause of stress or frustration for the kids or the adults.
Although still widely described as such, a lot of games that fall into the 'board game' category have different tools for playing, which may appeal more if you're trying to shake up games night. Some centre more on cards, some go for something completely different, and others include a combination, so there's plenty of choice!
The advantage of having a main central board is that everyone knows where the centre of the game is and how everyone is doing. With such a clear visual representation in front of them, this can make it easier for little ones or those who are easily distracted to follow how the game is progressing.
On the downside, these games often require more space and are much harder to play on the go, which is worth noting if that's a priority for you.
Other games, such as those based on cards, tiles, or other equipment, forego the focus-point that a board provides. They may also be more confusing for younger players, particularly if they're playing by themselves.
On the other hand, they tend to have smaller boxes or containers as there is less to carry. Boxes with dimensions of less than 20 cm will easily fit into bags to be taken to a friend's house or even on holiday.
If you're having a bigger family gathering, check that everyone can play your chosen board game – nobody wants to sit out on the sidelines whilst everyone else has fun. Similarly, if your family is small, there's no point buying a game which requires too many people to enjoy properly.
Some games will require fewer players than others, but remember, lots do have the option of playing in teams which will allow you to adapt them to the size of your group.
Anyone who has ever played Monopoly (more on this later) will know that some board games can take up to half a day to complete. This is perfect for whiling away a wet afternoon with nothing else to do, but not ideal if you have children with short attention spans or a limited amount of free time.
Many games take less than 30 minutes, giving you far more flexibility, so don't forget to note the duration on each product before buying. And if you want the fun to go on for a bit longer, you can always play it twice!
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A Simple Game That Everyone Will Love
Harry Potter Cluedo
Solve Crime in a Hogwarts Edition of a Classic
The Original Describing Game for up to 20 Players
A Sped-Up Version of the Popular Original
The Logo Board Game
Recognise Brands to Complete the Board
A Trivia Game That's Ideal for Families With Teens
A Off-the-Wall Game You Can Play Quickly
A Game All About Story Telling
A Quick, Fun and Simple Word Game
Hungry Hungry Hippos
The Perfect Choice for Families With Younger Players
Although not strictly a board game, Uno has become a staple in many homes with its easy-to-grasp rules and basic equipment. It is quick to finish but can be played over and over again without becoming dull, whether you're round the table or on a camping trip.
The game strikes the perfect balance between skill and luck, and because it requires no knowledge or trivia, it is suitable for both older and younger players alike. All that's needed is a few tactful moves along the way and you'll find yourself shouting 'Uno' in no time!
Cluedo is unique for a family board game in its dark and intriguing subject matter, so it's no wonder this Harry Potter version works so well. It manages to enthral all ages and is sure to be family favourite for any fan of the beloved series, or the original version of the game!
After a few goes, you'll remember how to play, and you'll love the twists and familiar characters used. To make sense of the plot, Cluedo does require quite a few extra pieces which means it's perfect for keeping kids, teens, and adults of 9 and over occupied.
Articulate is a game that most people know and love, which is why it's still on many a best of list. Its simplicity means it is accessible to most and every family can tailor the rules to suit them.
It's also one of the most flexible games when it comes to numbers – the makers state that more than 20 people can participate! This means that, whilst some of the cards might be slightly too difficult for younger players, they can still play along with their team.
Everyone knows the classic version of this popular board game, famous for igniting family feuds the world over. To finish a normal game of Monopoly usually requires setting aside a whole day, but not with this new kid on the block.
This game has all your favourite parts of the original but manages to transform into a game you might actually finish. Of course, this may mean for some it loses some of the charm, but it does mean participants may be more willing to get involved!
This game works well for both adults, teens, and children as it covers many eras and generations – each participant can have their chance to shine!
Younger children will love recognising their favourite brands, and the variety of spoken and visual clues will help to mix it up. The box is quite big so probably not one you can take everywhere, but it's ideal for stowing on the living room shelf ready for a night in at home.
This game combines trivia and making connections - both of which can be a bit tricky - which is why it is aimed at slightly older children and teens. If your family members are all old enough to play, get ready to shout out answers and have fun collecting cards.
This game doesn't require a board and is focused largely around cards which you then win. It also comes with pencils and pads for writing answers, another reason why it is better for older players, though this does mean you don't have to scramble around trying to find your own!
In a similar way to Banagrams, Exploding Kittens doesn't really give any clues away as to what this game actually involves. Its premise is actually very simple, meaning that it is a family-friendly game that can be played in any free moment.
The inclusion of imaginary laser beams and magical enchiladas is sure to be crazy enough to entertain children, as well as those with a child-like sense of humour, but won't appeal as much if you prefer the classic board games.
Board games can be a great vehicle for learning and developing in fun and unexpected ways, and this is definitely true of Dixit. It has a board that helps to demonstrate how everyone is doing, but the game centres mainly around cards with intriguing drawings.
This game for anyone aged 8 and over encourages creativity in the way that you have to come up with stories and ideas, so is great for playing with both slightly older children and adults alike. It's not the kind of game you can get out quickly, though, as it does require some setting up time and explanation.
Bananagrams can be seen as an updated, sped up and more portable version of Scrabble. Despite the name, it doesn't have very much to do with bananas, but banana-related terminology is used throughout. If you have younger kids or are not the biggest fan of Scrabble, you may want to think twice about buying, but if you love words and shouting at the top of your lungs, then this game has just what you need.
The game only requires what is contained within a small banana-shaped pouch, meaning it is extremely easy to take from place to place. The rules are easy to teach and follow – although you might end up arguing over what is and isn't a proper noun!
A lot of the other games on this list are suitable for players over 7 years of age, but with Hungry Hungry Hippos, you can get those as young as 4 involved. This does mean it's probably not as universally appealing as some titles, though.
You'll all be in hysterics as you press furiously to try and get your hippos to eat the most marbles. Then, at the end, encourage your children to practise their numbers by counting the scores at the end.
Fancy a few more suggestions for family-friendly activities and games to keep you and your household occupied? Check out the articles below for some further inspiration.
If you're looking to entice your family with a more old-fashioned form of entertainment, then a good board game is a sure-fire way to get everyone involved. Hopefully our tips and suggestions will foster just the right amount of competitive spirit with a few laughs (and possibly a few friendly disputes) along the way!
Author: Emma Cramp
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