Now that Halloween is a distant memory, we are beginning to amp-up our holiday shopping. It is difficult to avoid the pre-holiday rush because the merchandise is in the stores and the Hallmark channel is already airing holiday-themed shows. Social media and advertisements are inundating us with this year’s “it’ gift list, so the message is out there:  The holidays are coming. Be prepared!

However, this year is the perfect season to keep it simple. We are spending more time together as a family than in the recent past, so make your gift-giving memorable and memory-making. Bring the family together with good, old-fashioned board games, as popular as ever.

Cooperative Play for the Holiday Season

If you are searching for games that bring the family together, you will be pleased to learn that cooperative play board games are a current trend. For these games, the players work together toward the common goal whether it is rescuing or escaping or strategizing; you are in it to win it as a team. 

Peaceable Kingdom has created a niche for cooperative play board games with titles such as Hoot Owl Hoot, Count Your Chickens, and Race to the Treasure, all of which involve working together for the end result. In Hoot Owl Hoot, players work in unison to help the owls fly back to their nest before the sun comes up. The pieces are color-coordinated making this matching game perfect for preschoolers. 

Another cooperative play board game for preschoolers is Max an adventure about a cat who loves to chase small creatures outside. This masterpiece was lovingly created as a nod to a real life Max the cat. Players are encouraged to work together using logic and cooperation to save the animals from spunky Max.

A simple but colorful cooperative game, Hanabi has each player literally holding the cards to build a fireworks display together. The game relies on memory and communication skills because only the other players can see the cards in your hand. Players give instructions to one another before a card is placed, so be a good listener for this quick game of team-building.

A final nod to cooperative games is one of the 2020 Toy of the Year Awards winners: Heist. Not only is this a cooperative game, but it is an electronic fast-paced team challenge.  During a game of Heist, players work together to crack a safe by completing a series of tasks along the way to grabbing the $50 million prize. Recommended for ages 7 and up, the entire family can work together on this mission!

Classic Board Games for Holiday Gift Giving

While Monopoly remains on everyone’s list of favorites, the game has come a long way since being introduced in 1935. The classic version is a gem with its unique rules and game pieces (who doesn’t want to be the Scottie dog?) but it has had many incarnations to appeal to all ages and interests. A Junior rendition has been created as well as Star Wars, Mario Brothers, and Spiderman, but the latest form to gain recognition is Ms. Monopoly which features inventions and innovations made possible by women in history.

Other favorites such as Life and Clue have created new versions of their family and group oriented games to appeal to the masses including Junior adaptations and themed versions as well. And who doesn’t enjoy a good round of shouting out the answers? If so, Outburst, also available in Junior form, might be the game for your family. It provides age-appropriate content, fast-paced fun, and unlimited players.

Another take on an old favorite is Pictionary Air, an electronic take on the classic drawing game that causes a game night full of laughter. Instead of scribbling your picture on paper for your partner to decipher, this rendition has participants literally drawing in air. This game is a winner for all ages and family members as witnessed at last year’s holiday gathering when each round had the cousins in stitches!

If your family is in the mood for some laughter while gathering around the table, try Apples to Apples to keep the atmosphere light. Every player gets a turn at being the judge while passing out the red apple cards and ultimately deciding which player made the best, or funniest, word choice. Once the frenzy begins, it is difficult to stop!

Win, lose, or cooperate, there are plenty of board games to choose from this holiday season for the entire family. Be a great gift-giver and gracious gamer as you navigate the season of shopping. 

Keep in mind, it’s not necessarily about winning, but how – and with whom – you play the game.

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Updated from original posted on 9/23/20