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Christmas board games: 11 of the best games to play online and in-person 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. 

Although this Christmas may look a little different than most thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s one activity which is sure to brighten the festive period no matter where you’re celebrating or who you’re with – playing a board game.

Sure, you may have to switch up the game to match the smaller number of players you’re likely to have this year, but there’s still something special about the act of sitting around the board (socially distanced, if necessary) and partaking in a good old-fashioned game.

In fact, some research even suggests that playing board games may be good for our wellbeing, not only because they force us to spend some time away from our phones and have some face-to-face interaction, but because they 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

So, whether you’re new to board games or simply want to expand your collection, we’ve put together this list of the best games to play this Christmas – consider it your guide to the most wholesome of festive entertainment.

And, just in case you can’t be with your family or friends this Christmas, we’ve made it clear which of these you can play online via a boardgame website and included a handy link. Enjoy!

  • Dixit

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

    Dixit is brilliant because it challenges people to use their imaginations AND get inside each other’s 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). 

    Next, 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: £26.11

    Can it be played online? Not yet. However, a Dixit app is currently in the works.

  • 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

    Can it be played online? Yes! You can play a version of Betrayal At House On The Hill on the online board game site Tabletop Simulator (you’ll need to download the game first). 

  • 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

    Can it be played online? Kind of. Although you can’t buy the original game in a digital form, you can download a range of digital packs which come with new Confident?-style questions to tackle with friends and family over Zoom.  

  • 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: £22

    Can it be played online? Yes – and it’s free! During the first national lockdown, Drumond Park games made the original Articulate! cards available online, so it can be played over Zoom. If you’ve got the physical game, you could even set up the board in front of the camera and use the cards remotely.

  • 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: £18

    Can it be played online? Yes! You can buy the Monopoly app for £3.99 on the App Store and Google Play Store. However, if you want to play it with family and friends from a distance, you’ll each need to buy the app.

  • 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

    Can it be played online? Unfortunately not – there are some unofficial versions out there, but the official version of the Jenga app isn’t available to download in the UK. 

  • Cluedo

    Christmas Board Games: Cluedo.
    Christmas board games: Cluedo.

    If you’ve never played Cluedo before, now is as good a time as any to get stuck in.

    The premise of the game is simple – after a body is discovered, it’s your mission to discover who committed the murder, what weapon they used and where they did it, by asking your fellow players questions that lead them to confirm or deny your suspicions.

    Using your clue sheet to cross off suspects and work through the possible outcomes, the winner is the first player to correctly identify the culprit at the centre of the crime.

    For ages: 8+

    Number of players: 2-6

    Price: £22.99

    Can it be played online? Yes! The Cluedo app is available on the App Store and Google Play Store for £3.99. However, if you want to play it with family and friends from a distance, you’ll each need to buy the app.

  • 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 smartphone 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

    Can it be played online? Kind of. Although Pictionary doesn’t have an online version of the game (although Pictionary Air does incorporate an app, it’s not really designed to be used with players in different locations), but the popular app Draw Something is a great alternative.

  • 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: £20

    Can it be played online? Not yet, sorry!

  • 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 of 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: £35

    Can it be played online? Kind of. The board game can’t be played remotely, but the Crystal Maze team have created an at-home challenge for people to play during lockdown – you can download it from their website.

  • 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

    Can it be played online? No, sorry!

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With contributions by Anna Fox

Images: Getty/Courtesy of brands

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