I love finding fun ways to interact with my children and family. We have built a collection of family board games over the years and have spent may hours of fun together. This is a collection of some of our favorite games that we recommend to families, and that we continue to play with our children, neighbors and extended family members.
Apples to Apples is our family's all time favorite game. Apples to Apples has two sets of cards - one set includes nouns (people, places, things) and the other includes adjectives. The noun cards are dealt to all players. Each player takes turn being the judge, who draws an adjective card, and shares it with the whole group. Each person takes a noun card from their hand that is described by the adjective card and gives it face down to the judge. The judge takes all the cards and picks the one he thinks best fits the adjective. The player who submitted that card wins the point, and play moves forward. This family board game will lead to many fun evenings together.
This is one of our family's favorite games to play with company. Balderdash is a classic bluffing game. The player draws a card with an unfamiliar word on it. Each other player writes down either the real definition or a made-up one. The player with the card then reads all the answers and has the players guess which one is right. Players who guess right move forward, as do the players who gave wring answers that were guessed. It is a lot of fun and tests your creativity.
This is another family board game that is fun and can be played with all ages. In this game, the player is given a word and a method for helping your team guess. Methods include sculpting with clay, describing it verbally, drawing a picture or in some cases guesstimating a number. The timer involved plays Conga music, hence the name. It is a lot of fun and has something for everyone.
This is a great strategy game for three of four players. The players become imaginary settlers on the island of Catan The genius of the game is that the board is laid out differently every time it is played, so it is never the same twice. Settlers must use their resources to develop roads, settlements and other buildings, but there are robbers around every corner who can steal your resources when they surface. This is a challenging game to learn (it takes about 15-20 minutes to get the hang of it) but then you can enjoy playing for hours. It was the Game of the Year in its German incarnation, and I can see why.
I grew up playing Pit at all kinds of parties and youth activities. And it is still a lot of fun, but you will have the most fun with a larger group. In Pit, the participants simulate a trading pit where trader try to assemble all of the cards of one type of product. You trade with other players trying to get a full hand of wheat, barley, oats or another commodity. Thrown into the mix is a bull card which acts like a wild card and a bear card which, if you have in your hand, you can't win. Shrewed trading is the order of the day. The first one to assemble a full hand of all the products is the winner.
Pictionary is a classic family board game, and the new 20th Anniversary Edition is updated with lots of new words and slightly different rules. In short, a player draws a card with a word on it and must draw a picture to get his teammates to guess the word. This is also a great family game that works for all ages.
Another really fun game that tests your creativity and your vocabulary. In Taboo, you break into two teams and draw cards from a stack. On each card is a word that you want your team to guess and a list of words that you can't use in trying to get your team to guess the word. If your team gets the word, you get a point. If you get caught using a taboo word, your opponents get a point. Again, it is a lot of fun and leads to some interesting discussions
The Game of Life is an old standby, but is really fun. It takes longer to play than some board games, but it can also create some teaching moments. In the Game of Life, you start out in school and make choices along the way which either advance you toward retirement or hold you back. It does tend to lead to some interesting discussions about choices and where they lead us.
The main point of Catch Phrase is to get members of your team to guess the word that appears on the device screen. The game can be played with a large group (we have had 20 involved before) because you have team members sit every other one. You play and pass the device around the circle until a timer ringsthe point is score by the team not holding the device when the timer goes off. This is one of our favorite group games.
In Scattergories, each player gets a card with a list of 12 categories on it. A 20-sided die with letters on it is rolled, and each player has to list one word in each of the categories starting with the selected letter. At the end of the 3 minute time, the players compare lists, and all players cross out all duplicates. The player with the most words left wins the round. Even people who don't like board games seem to enjoy Scattergories.