RANKED! 12 Best Board Games to Play Around the Holiday Table (Instead of Talking Politics)
The holidays are a great time to catch up with family members…until the conversation inevitably turns to politics. Then small talk devolves into a heated argument and soon your family is divided down party lines. Rather than risk getting disowned this year by your politically radical relatives, turn the tables on them by bringing a board game to the family gathering. We’ve ranked the 12 best board games for holiday get-togethers, all guaranteed to keep your mind off draining the swamp of Washington D.C. and focused instead on a little healthy competition. In the world of board games, unlike in politics, people actually play by the rules and, sometimes, the good guys win.
Cover Photo: vladans (Getty Images)
Do not try this at home: Games We Played As Children That Would Now Be Considered Illegal
For families that are touchy-feely, spread out the Twister mat on the living room floor, spin the spinner, and start contorting your bodies in all sorts of unnatural ways. Talk about up close and personal. Here’s hoping everyone can hold their farts in.
Grab your least favorite family member and prepare your ships for battle in this vintage board game. Using plot points, you “fire” at your enemy until one of you sinks the other’s battleship. This means war.
If you have a large family, try this strategy game, which accommodates up to 12 players individually or in teams. Play your cards right (literally) to amass sequences horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. This game requires intense concentration, so there will be no time for chit-chat.
For families that just want to get blitzed, grab this board game. Up to 12 people can play this game, which incorporates elements from Monopoly, beer pong, flip cup, quarters, and kings cup. Just make sure you have a designated relative to cut you all off if you get too sloshed.
While this game is technically political, it doesn’t deal with modern-day politics. Players vie for territories spread out over the Earth-themed game board, forming and destroying alliances along the way, until they’ve achieved total domination. Don’t start this game unless you’re in it for the long haul; it’s been known to take days to finish.
If you love to roll the dice, this numbers game is for you. Using a fun shaker, you roll the dice and count up your points based on a scale similar to that of playing cards. Go for three of a kind, four of a kind, a full house, a small or large straight, or a Yahtzee. The higher your points, the faster you’ll win.
Language lovers will enjoy this wordplay game that tests your vocabulary and will have you inventing creative phrases that will undoubtedly incite arguments with the other players. Forget about double and triple scores and the official Scrabble dictionary and just play for fun, crafting the most ridiculous (and perhaps offensive) combinations you can. Make grandma’s jaw drop. We dare you.
This board game makes life look so much simpler than it actually is, but the bygone nostalgia is part of the appeal. Pick a plastic car, spin a number, then progress on the road of life towards major milestones like graduating college, getting married, and having kids. Collect paydays along the way. Sure, the game is a bit outdated and unrealistic given that none of our lives follow such a clean and chronological path, but it’s a blast to pack your car full of little people and finally arrive at retirement (because we all know that won’t be a thing our generation will enjoy!).
If you’re a visual person, grab a marker, a drawing pad, and this board game for a laugh-out-loud time. No one ever knows just how bad their artistic skills are until faced with an empty canvas, a timer, and teammates shouting off-base guesses as to what they’re drawing. The point isn’t to win so much as to make the Scrooge of your family crack up.
This murder mystery board game never gets old, though it’s been played by families for generations and was even turned into a feature film in 1985. Choose a character (Miss Scarlet, Professor Plum, Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Green, Colonel Mustard, or Mrs. White), then roll the dice and begin your journey through the mansion. Each time you enter a room, you’re allowed to make a guess about who the murderer is, where the death occurred, and what weapon was used. Through the process of elimination, the true killer is revealed.
There’s nothing better than play money. (OK, real money is better, but assuming you aren’t rich, this is the next best thing.) Outsmart your family members with your smooth, deal-making moves in this board game that tests your financial smarts. Buy and sell property, build hotels, and try to stay out of jail while you build your empire. Monopoly is the only way you can “win” at capitalism.
If you like to get off your butt to play games, this puzzle game is for you. (It’s also more fun when you’re drunk.) Construct a tower out of blocks, then take turns removing a piece and placing it on top. As the structure becomes more and more unstable, the game becomes more challenging. Your goal is to not be the jerk who topples the whole thing over. There are no winners, only losers, similar to holiday gatherings.