As a family we love to play board games, especially at Christmas time. We try to play them at the weekend throughout the year too, but sometimes other commitments get in the way. But Christmas? It’s game on.
The kids absolutely love it – and so do we. It means they are not in front of a screen, and we are spending some quality family time together. Many of the top family board games can be educational too and are created in such a fun way that the children are learning through play; the perfect combination.
Our games cupboard is full to bursting point with all the different types we have collected over the years, from the handed down and now slightly battered Monopoly, to the more recent favourites such as the Cube.
Our Favourite Family Board Games
We have so many favourite board games this was a tough one to narrow down. We thought we would start with a simple table to help show which kinds were suitable for different age groups and interests. Following on from that is our mini review of each one, if you want a more in depth review from us, you can click on the link within each board game section for more.
1. Family Fortunes
We recently bought the Family Fortunes board game for our son’s 9th birthday. I had always loved watching the popular TV show so was rather pleased when he said how much he had enjoyed playing it at a friend’s house!
It is a really easy game to play right out of the box. Batteries are included in the rather loud buzzer section – so all there is to do is unwrap the playing cards from their cellophane play can begin.
So what did we think of it?
The manufacturer’s recommendation is for ages 8 and above – I would say that slightly younger children could play it. Our youngest son is 7 and he was fine with it, although he did panic slightly with the 45 second Big Money round at the end – we decided to give him 60 seconds to answer them.
Unlike some other games, Family Fortunes is really simple to play. If you are familiar with the TV show, the rules are the same. You split in to 2 teams ‘families’ and choose someone to be a host. Our 9 year old particularly enjoyed the role of host, and it is a great way for them to practise their math skills when they have to add the scores up at the end! There are 3 parts to the game – the first 3 rounds are normal rounds where one player from each team begins by trying to be the quickest to press the buzzer with an answer when the host asks the first question. The winning family will then go on to play the round or pass it to the opposing side. As is with the TV show, the family must get all the answers without getting 3 crosses (the host will buzz you from the sound unit – just like on the TV!) If they do not succeed, the other family have the opportunity to steal the points if they can come up with an answer. The next 2 rounds are the same format except the points are doubled. Bonus points can be earned and are indicated on the hosts question and answer card. The final round is the Big Money round where 2 members from each team have to answer 5 questions in 45 seconds and then 60 seconds. The winning family are the side who either get all five top answers in the Big Money round or if neither side manage this, the team with the highest total overall score.
For full instructions please refer to those that come with the game or read them online here >>
What We Liked
- How easy the game is to just open up and play. No need for complicated rules or lengthy setting up procedures.
- The fun factor – we have come out with some really funny answers, it is amazing what a bit of pressure will do to you!
- Batteries are included
- The wipe clean board so we can play over and over again
- Educational value – you need to be a quick thinker if you are playing and the host gets to practise spelling and maths
What We Didn’t Like
- Some of the answers which you think should be on there are not. But, you have to remember that these are survey results from the general public and this part of it does sometimes make it funnier!
We would absolutely recommend this game for all the family and age ranges. It definitely has the fun factor and doesn’t have to be a really long game (you can cut down on some of the rounds). It is easy to play and there are 150 question cards meaning you can play many times over.
Ok, so technically not a board game, but we had to break the rules and include Bananagrams in our recommendations. We absolutely love, love, love the game. We first bought it for our eldest son when he was about 7 years old, and we have played it relentlessly ever since (he is now 11!) It is of course very educational and a brilliant game to take away on holiday. We sometimes go on teams or go it alone. This is seriously an hours of fun kind of game – perfect for Scrabble lovers too.
We have owned Bananagrams for about 7 years now and it is probably one of our most played games. We enjoy it so much that we have bought it as a gift for numerous friends and family! When I first decided to buy it I was worried that my children would find it boring, but actually, they really love it and it has certainly helped their thinking and spelling skills.
If you have younger players who want to join in then consider teaming them up with an adult, they will soon get the hang of it and out spelling you in no time!
Place all the tiles face down in the middle of the table. Each player takes 21 tiles (depending on how many people are playing) and keeps them face down. When everyone is ready, the youngest player shouts ‘Split’ and everyone turns over the tiles and the game has begun. Start making as many words as you can (no names or abbreviations). The words must intersect with each other (see the picture above) and laid out horizontally or vertically. Everyone plays at the same time. When someone has used up all their tiles they shout ‘Peel’ and everyone must take a new tile from the pile in the middle. Once all the tiles have gone from the middle (or there are not enough for everyone to take one) the first one to use the last of their tiles is the winner. They must shout out ‘Bananas.’ All the other players then check the winner’s answers (clarifying with a dictionary if required). If any words are not correct or allowed then that player is a ‘Rotten Banana’ and the game resumes until the next player uses all of their tiles. The ‘Rotten Banana’ is out of the game and must return their tiles to the centre for other players to use. If at any point during the game you want to exchange a tile you must shout out ‘Dump’ and then return that tile to the centre of the table and pick 3 more tiles in it’s place.
There are variations to the game – for full instructions for Bananagrams, please download them here >>
What We Liked
- A fun and educational game that makes you think of words quickly.
- Everyone plays at the same time, no waiting around for your turn
- Suitable for all age ranges as words are not scored – so you can still win even if just using shorter and more common words
- The game is very transportable, making it ideal for travelling
- Simple rules
- Very durable tiles so great for little fingers
- You can think of variations to play if you want. For example, to make it a little more challenging you could play a round where only sports related words are allowed, or food etc
What We Didn’t Like
- There is nothing not to like – if I was reviewing this when I first bought it I would have said a little expensive, but it has since come down considerably in price so is excellent value for money.
An all round winner. Even if you don’t enjoy word games as much this one will win you over. A brilliant family game that we have never tired of.
3. Logo Billionaire
This was bought for my husband a couple of Christmas’s ago as a present. It took us a while to decide to play it as I wasn’t sure if the kids would really enjoy it. When we did dive in and play a game – we absolutely loved it, and so did the children! I think playing with big money and recognising some of the brands and items within the game helped to add to the fun factor. By the end of our first game we had some budding, if somewhat ruthless, entrepreneurs!
It is recommended for ages 8 and above but our 6 year old soon got the hang of it and I think was our first billionaire 😉
It took us a while to decide to open up and play Logo Billionaire. For some reason I didn’t think the kids would really enjoy playing it. How wrong I was.
It isn’t a straight out of the box easy to play game – you need to do a bit of preparation and reading of rules, which maybe was more my reason for delaying playing it! But, once we started to play the game, it actually is quite straightforward and a lot of fun.
Don’t let all the different pieces and cards put you off. I won’t go into in depth detail here about the rules of the game as it is quite lengthy. If you do want to download the instructions you can do so here.
There are two different versions of the game, the Apprentice rules and the Executive rules. We have only ever played the Apprentice rules as we thought it would be more straightforward for the kids, but now we have played it quite a few times I think we might be ready to progress to the slightly more complicated Executive status!
The general aim of the game is to create companies by collecting famous brands and launching them on the stock market. By launching your company you will get it valued – and this is the fun part, you either walk away with a nice sum of money, or you go bust. This continues until the first player reaches the heady heights of one billion. In Apprentice mode you can buy other people’s brands or swap with them. In Executive mode you use the Takeover disks and Newsflash cards.
What We Liked
- The every day brands give the game a feeling of familiarity
- The rush of excitement (or nerves!) as you launch a company – will you make the big time or go bust?
- The option to play 2 different versions of the game – great for younger kids who might not have the patience to understand all the rules
- It teaches the children a snippet of being an entrepreneur and the risks involved
What We Didn’t Like
- We would have liked a bit more strategy and maybe questions for moving around the board rather than a spinner
Definitely a winner with the kids. Personally I would have found it a little more engaging if there was a little strategy involved as it is mainly based on luck. I think the more players you have the more fun it is as there is more room for people taking your brands from you. But, it is a fun game to play with kids and fairly quick to play.
Who done it? A classic that I used to love playing from my own childhood. There are a few variations of this game now, I’ve played the London version (the locations are London landmarks) but personally I prefer the classic game, although I wish they hadn’t changed the names of the rooms – the drawing room is now the living room and the billiards room is now the games room – but maybe that’s just my own nostalgia kicking in! It is still a good game and one my children enjoy.
You can’t go wrong with this classic. I think every family at some point has had the Monopoly argument at Christmas time! We all love playing this game but we do have to set a few ground rules for no tantrums if you don’t get Park Lane or Mayfair (and that’s just the adults!) It is a great game that everyone can get stuck in to – just make sure you either allow enough time to play it, or have a place where you can leave it and come back to it, it is a long game.
You no doubt remember Yahtzee from your own childhood – the classic game is not just based on luck (although it does help!) It also requires a certain amount of skill and risk.
Yahtzee is great for children and adults, it can be played in about half an hour and can be full of excitement.