Christmas

Board games at Christmas: 13 of the best games to play with friends and family this December

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Lauren Geall
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A group of friends playing a board game at Christmas

Dust off your competitive instincts this Christmas and gather your friends or family for some old fashioned festive fun in the form of one of these fantastic board games. 

Whether you’re a board game expert or a complete beginner, there’s something special about gathering a group of friends or family members together to play a game at Christmas. There will, of course, be the inevitable squabbles and rows (watch out for the bad loser in your friendship group), but at the end of the day, playing board games is a great way to spend time with your loved ones.

And according to new research, playing board games may actually be good for our wellbeing. Besides the fact that playing board games forces us to spend time away from our phones and have actual face-to-face interactions, a new study has found that engaging with these types of games can improve our brain health and cognitive functioning.

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Let us (and science) convince you to get out the board games this Christmas

If you’re new to board games – or simply want to expand your collection – we’ve put together this list of nine of the best board games to play during the Christmas period. From family classics to the more modern inventions, consider this your guide to the most wholesome of festive entertainment.

  • Dixit

    Christmas board games: Dixit.
    Christmas board games: Dixit.

    Dixit is brilliant because it challenges people to use their imaginations AND get inside each others’ heads. There are over 100 cards, and each player starts the game with six, which are drawn randomly. You then go round taking turns as the ‘storyteller’, making up a sentence or phrase that might describe one of your cards and saying it out loud (without showing the card to the other players). Everyone else looks at their own six cards, selects the one that best matches the sentence given by the storyteller, and places it face down on the table. The storyteller shuffles all the cards and deals them out face up, leaving all players to guess which was the original. 

    For ages: 8+

    Number of players: 3-6

    Price: £24.49

  • Betrayal at House on the Hill

    Christmas board games: Betrayal at House on the Hill.
    Christmas board games: Betrayal at House on the Hill.

    Betrayal at House on the Hill begins as a cooperative game, with all players working together to navigate a haunted house and uncover as many items and rooms as they can. Fair warning, though: as more of the house is revealed, the chances of triggering a ‘haunt’ grow ever higher. Perhaps one of your party will turn into a werewolf, or a mummy, or a vampire. Perhaps they’ll be possessed by an ancient spirit. Perhaps something completely different and utterly bonkers will happen (one twist of fate could genuinely see a player transformed into a hoard of cannibalistic squirrels). With a book of over 50 scenarios, you never know who the traitor will be or what the second half of the game will look like, but you will have a lot of fun finding out.

    For ages: 12+

    Number of players: 3-6

    Price: £32.97

  • Confident?

    Christmas board games: Confident?
    Christmas board games: Confident?

    Confident? is a quiz game with a difference – mainly because you don’t need any actual knowledge to play. With questions including “How many times has Trump tweeted since taking office?” players are expected to answer with a range rather than an exact figure, with the aim of the game to get the real answer in your range while also having the smallest range compared to the other players. Probably one for the lucky guessers among us.

    For ages: no age range specified.

    Number of players: 3+

    Price: £19.99

  • Balderdash

    Christmas board games: Balderdash.
    Christmas board games: Balderdash.

    In the true spirit of Christmas, Balderdash is a game all about tricking your friends. To play the game, one player must pick from a list of categories – including people, words, initials and movies – while the others write down what they think the definition of the thing on the card is. Everyone then votes on which card they believe contains the true answer – points are earned by fooling other players into believing your bluff as well as from choosing the real answer.

    For ages: 12+

    Number of players: 2-6

    Price: £15.60

  • Articulate!

    Christmas board games: Articulate!
    Christmas board games: Articulate!

    This fast-talking description game is perfect for your family member who just can’t stop talking. The aim of the game is simple: describe an object, person or place without actually saying the name of it. Players work in pairs or groups against the clock to work out what their team member is trying to say, with the number of moves they’re allowed to make on the board determined by how many guesses they get correct. One thing’s for sure: you won’t be short of laughs while playing Articulate!

    For ages: 12+

    Number of players: 4 to 20+ 

    Price: £14.99

  • 5 Second Rule

    Christmas board games: 5 Second Rule.
    Christmas board games: 5 Second Rule.

    Just like Articulate!, 5 Second Rule requires players to answer questions under time pressure, guaranteeing some pretty hilarious results. The aim of the game is to think quick and answer fast – pick a card to choose from 576 different subjects, and then name three things related to that subject in under five seconds. You’ll be surprised what kind of ridiculous things come out of your mouth when you’re forced to think fast. 

    For ages: 10+

    Number of players: the game comes with four counters, but you can play with as many people as you’d like by just using the cards.

    Price: £9.99 (Black Friday sale)

  • Monopoly

    Christmas board games: Monopoly.
    Christmas board games: Monopoly.

    You didn’t think we’d put together a list of the best board games without throwing this classic into the mix, did you? The iconic real estate game allows users to buy up spaces around the board and charge ‘rent’ from the other players when they land on their property. To win, you just need to be the last player standing – a status achieved by bankrupting everyone else. What’s more festive than that?

    If you’re feeling fancy, you can even branch out and get yourself a limited-edition Stranger Things or Friends themed version of the game.

    For ages: 8+ (there is also a junior version of the game available for younger children)

    Number of players: 2-6

    Price: £15

  • Jenga

    Christmas board games: Jenga.
    Christmas board games: Jenga.

    There’s something about Jenga which makes it just as much fun no matter how many times you play it. The rules are quite simple: take it in turns to extract blocks from the tower without knocking the whole thing over. Just be warned – Jenga can turn the best of players into the worst of losers.

    For ages: 6+

    Number of players: 2+

    Price: £11.99

  • Pictionary Air

    Christmas board games: Pictionary Air.
    Christmas board games: Pictionary Air.

    One for the techies among us, Pictionary Air takes a modern twist on the classic illustration game. Using the new Air Pen (which requires a smart phone and app to work) to draw in the air, players compete to guess what the other person is drawing as the illustration appears on the phone screen. Your work can even be displayed from your smart device to your TV, using Apple TV, Chromecast or any other compatible equivalent.

    For ages: 8+

    Number of players: 2+

    Price: £19.99

  • Mouse Trap

    Christmas board games: Mouse Trap.
    Christmas board games: Mouse Trap.

    If you’re looking for a game to keep family members of all ages entertained this Christmas, look no further than Mouse Trap. This classic board game comes with loads of fun moving parts, and promises to keep everyone engaged for hours. The aim of the game is simple: pick up the pieces of cheese scattered around the board while evading capture. Just make sure to watch out for all the contraptions!

    For ages: 6+

    Number of players: 2+

    Price: £15

  • Relative Insanity

    Christmas board games: Relative Insanity.
    Christmas board games: Relative Insanity.

    Relative Insanity is kind of like Cards Against Humanity, except a lot more family friendly. Each round, one player picks a ‘set-up’ card, and then everyone else answers with the punch line card they think makes the funniest combo. If you fancy spending your Christmas Eve laughing with friends and family over the most bizarre phrases, this one’s the game for you.

    For ages: 14+

    Number of players: 4-12

    Price: £19.99

  • Now That’s What I Call Music: The Board Game

    Christmas board games: Now That's What I Call Music: The Board Game.
    Christmas board games: Now That's What I Call Music: The Board Game.

    If you fancy yourself as bit of a music connoisseur, then Now That’s What I Call Music: The Board Game is the Christmas game for you. With questions on music from across the 80’s, 90’s and 21st century, as well as chances to cover tracks and mime song titles, this one’s sure to get everyone involved. 

    For ages: 8+

    Number of players: 2-6

    Price: £18.75

  • The Crystal Maze Game

    Christmas board games: The Crystal Maze game.
    Christmas board games: The Crystal Maze game.

    Bring Channel 4’s iconic adventure gameshow into your living room with The Crystal Maze game. With four themed time zones, a range mysteries to solve and lots of crystals to win, this one is sure to keep everyone fighting for the victory – if they can solve the mind-bending puzzles, that is. You can even download the game’s app The Crystal Maze: Game Timer to add the music and sound effects from the TV show into your game.

    For ages: 10+

    Number of players: 2+

    Price: £34.99

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With contributions by Anna Fox

Images: Getty/Courtesy of brands

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