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MPMK Gift Guide: Top Picks for Family Game Night

MPMK Toy Gift Guide: Best kid games to start a family game night, top kid play alone games, best games for siblings, etc.- Really appreciate the detailed reviews and useful age recommendations in this gift guide.

Welcome to the famous MPMK Gift Guides and congrats on finding the most comprehensive and easy-to-use kids’ gift guide on the internet! (If you’re not familiar with our famous lists, learn all about them here)…

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Having a regular family game night is a great tradition to strengthen the family unit. Not only does it ensure time for connecting with each other, it also gets your kids in the habit of communicating with you – something that will pay-off big time when they’re older. Plus, with the right game, it can be really fun!

Just as valuable as popular family games, are games that kids will happily play alone or with a sibling so that you can get stuff done!

Below you’ll find a selection of games the whole family will love, games perfect for one or two players, and games ideal for pre-readers to help you start a game night ritual even with your youngest kiddos.

Don’t forget – you can check out all 15 of our 2016 Gift Guides here!

Also, I’m doing my best this year to keep our readers up-to-date on any sales I see on our gift guide items.  To be in the loop, be sure to

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Once again this year, I’m heading up each list with my favorites from all the picks – here, ARRANGED BY AGE, are my

Top 13 Games for Kids & Families

Thinkfun Roll and Play Board Game $19.17 (18 months – 3 years)

This is the first board game made specifically with young toddlers in mind. Toss the big plush cube and identify which colored side faces up. Choose a matching color card and perform the simple activity shown, such as “Make a happy face”, “Moo like a cow” or “Find something blue”. Designed for parent and child to play together, Roll & Play strengthens bonds and builds confidence while encouraging creativity, active play and gross motor skills. This seems like a great option if you have a preschooler who wants to play a family game with his or her younger sibling too. For another great young-toddler-friendly game, checkout Thinkfun’s Hello Sunshine Game $15.20 (18 months – 3 years) as well!

Eeboo Color Go Fish Playing Cards $7.95 (2+ years)

This beautiful card set uses colors instead of the traditional numbers for Go Fish. This was one of the very first games I started playing with my son. It was easy for him to understand since no numbers or reading were involved and helped him learn his colors.  He still enjoys playing it several years later, now with his 4-year-old (and now 5-year-old) sister who adores it too. In fact, this is often the game they first choose to play together alone.

Richard Scary Busy Town $19.99 (3 – 8 years)

I have heard great things about this cooperative, non-competitive game from multiple sources but was really convinced when a mom of one of my son’s good friends was raving about it. Everything about this game is impressive, from the 6 foot long game board, to the amount of imagination and teamwork required. In fact, the company behind this game, Wonder Forge who also produces another of our favorites, Cat in the Hat, I Can Do That!, has won over 120 prestigious awards by creating good-for-you games that encourage teamwork, healthy competition, and get-up-and-go active play. This is the perfect game for children of multiple ages to play together and for when you hit that stage when kids pout a lot about losing or start to become ultra competitive.

Zingo $17.99 (4 – 8 years)

This is another super popular game with families with young children and it was another of our family’s first games. A lot like BINGO, players get picture cards and try to fill them up.  There is a speed component too that we use about half the time with our 5 year old and skip with our 3 year old. We have both the standard version and the numbers/math version and both are regularly requested by the kids. Side Note: When your pre-readers become emerging readers, Zingo Word Builder, What’s Gnu? and Zingo Sight Words are also excellent!!

Spot it! $11.29 (4 years – adult) also there’s a new travel version, Spot it! On the Road 

An award-winning game that centers around visual perception and speed. Our nanny gifted this game to my kids (then 4 and 6) because her kids (9 and 7) really loved it. The goal is to be the first to identify a match on a pair of cards and to call out out the name of the figure in common.  This is the type of game that quickly becomes addictive and will cause lots of laughs and (hopefully) friendly competition. Also check out the newer Disney Frozen – Alphabet and Disney Planes – Alphabet versions.

Qwirkle $19.21 (5+ years)

One of the best-sellers ever amongst all 350 toys on our gift guides. My son got this strategic domino and scrabble-like game for his 5th birthday and asks to play it during our one-on-one time or as a family several times a week.  Although we’ve altered the rules and points system a bit to adjust for his age, this Parents’ Choice Gold Award and Mensa National Competition winner is stillfantastic for working on shape and color recognition as well as pattern perception and spatial and critical thinking skills. Recently my 4 year old daughter has been getting in on the fun and I can tell this is one that our family is sure to be playing for years to come.

HedBanz $16.99 $7.99 (6+ years) and a Disney version (13 – 99 years)

This super popular and very highly rated game is basically the classic “Who am I” game with fun headbands that kids will get a kick out of wearing. Kids will flex their deductive reasoning skills with the game’s simple question-and-answer premise. By making connections and coming up with questions that will lead to answers, they will also practice critical thinking skills.

No Stress Chess $14.99 (6+ years)

When my kindergartner came home from school one day asking me to teach him to play chess, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand I was excited because, despite spending a lot of our time together on sports-related activities, I have great memories of playing chess with my dad growing up. On the other hand, I was afraid he was a little young for it and might get frustrated and give up on the game all together. Enter “No Stress Chess”. This genius game uses cards to teach young kids how to play in stages. The cards tell you which piece to move, so even children (and adults) who have never played the game can jump right in. The moves for each piece are on the cards as well as on the game board and the first stage makes the game about chance, not skill – you simply draw a card and do what it says, perfect for learning how the pieces work. Once that is mastered, you can draw 3 cards at a time and decide which one you want to go with to introduce some strategy to the game. Finally, when you’re ready to play chess for real, just get rid of the cards and flip the board over to a traditional chess board.

Ravensburger Labyrnth  $19.99 (6+ years)

There are a few things that I especially appreciate about this super fun game. First, parents report that it’s one of those rare games that kids of all ages not only like, but are also able to win against the adults. Second, it can also be used as a single-player logic game during quiet time (I always LOVE that option). Finally, it’s a total classic and families absolutely love the components of both chance and strategy in the game.

Perplexus Rookie $17.70 (6 – 8 years) for younger kids, Perplexus Maze Game $18.00 (6 – 12 years), and Perplexus Epic $23.81 (6-12 years) for experienced players

Perplexus looks like one of those games that you just can’t help but pick up and play when it’s sitting on a table in front of you and, judging by the massive amounts of positive reviews, it is.  This one is great for developing fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Plus I love that it’s battery-free and completely self-contained within the sphere so there aren’t any pieces to get lost.

Sleepy Queens $9.68 (7+ years)

Invented by 6-year-old Miranda Evarts, this fantasy card game helps develop memory, strategy, and elementary arithmetic skills. Plus, many parents report it often leads to a lot of dramatic play fun once the game is over. I also appreciate the gender neutrality of this game, with queens, kings, knights and more, reviewers rave that both their sons and daughters ask to play again and again. Plus, the game doesn’t drag on too long (always a plus) with average play time being around 15 minutes.

Bounce-Off $14.47 (7+ years)

This active game is one that will truly appeal to players spanning a range of ages. Kind of a version of beer pong for kids (stay with me here, we’re not straying from family-friendly – I promise), it’s simple for everyone to understand and play and doesn’t take long to turn into an exciting game of fierce collaboration or hearty competition. One reviewer wrote, “We took advantage of picking this one up for our boys ages 8, 9 and 11… The first day they opened this and started playing, there was nothing but laughter and enjoyment for more than two hours for all three who sat down to play. They all got along (often a problem in competitive board games) and despite the fact that they didn’t bother to keep score, they really liked it… without parental supervision or interaction, they played peacefully and contently for a long time. And they had no problems going back to the game either… Not sure how educational it is, but it works on hand-eye coordination and I’d say it’s one of the better team-building games that we own.”

Ticket to Ride $36.49 (8+ years)

One of the most popular strategy games of all time. This is the original that spawned multiple variations. The reviews of this one say more about the game than I ever could, “A really fun board game for the whole family – especially if they love trains. The goal is to build railroad lines across the USA and ratchet up more points than your opponent(s).”…”I  don’t think I have ever seen a board game that pleases more consistently than this one. In my experience, board games are typically tedious to explain, and boring. Not this game. The beauty of it is its simplicity. It can be picked up very quickly, and the gameplay is quick, with no lulls. But, for all that simplicity in the gameplay, you do not sacrifice any complexity in the strategy.”

 

Read on for over 35 of my favorite picks for family game night, broken down into:

  • Highly Acclaimed Games
  • Games Especially for Toddlers & Pre-Readers
  • Single Player Games
  • Classic Games Recommended by Age

Special Note: In an effort to help you out as much as possible this year, I’ve included both prices and age recommendations for each item. Please take the age ranges as just that – recommendations – you know you’re child best after all!  

Also, this time of year prices can fluctuate quite dramatically.  So if you see something a little outside of your price range, it might not be a bad idea to click over and check  it out anyway – you may get lucky and catch a sale.

Ready for the big list? Here we go…

MPMK Toy Gift guide: best games kid and family game night - part of 15 super helpful toy guides with detailed descriptions and age recs.

Highly Acclaimed Games for Families

Spot it! $11.29 (4 years – adult) and there’s a new travel version, Spot it! On the Road 

An award-winning game that centers around visual perception and speed. Our nanny gifted this game to my kids (then 4 and 6) because her kids (9 and 7) really loved it. The goal is to be the first to identify a match on a pair of cards and to call out out the name of the figure in common.  This is the type of game that quickly becomes addictive and will cause lots of laughs and (hopefully) friendly competition. Also check out the newer Disney Frozen – Alphabet and Disney Planes – Alphabet versions.

Make ‘N’ Break – Family Game $19.99 (4+ years)

A Parent’s Choice Award winner described as easy to play and fun for the entire family, this game from Ravensburger (our favorite puzzle maker) takes simple building tasks and sets them against the clock for an exciting and engaging showdown. The uncomplicated concept and variable levels of difficulty allow it to be enjoyed by builders of all ages, whether it’s a rainy day inside with the kids or an after-dinner match for the adults. Combining spatial planning and logic skills, speed, and a little luck, it’s a stimulating game with excellent replay value.

Qwirkle $19.21 (5+ years)

One of the best-sellers ever amongst all 350 toys on our gift guides. My son got this strategic domino and scrabble-like game for his 5th birthday and asks to play it during our one-on-one time or as a family several times a week.  Although we’ve altered the rules and points system a bit to adjust for his age, this Parents’ Choice Gold Award and Mensa National Competition winner is stillfantastic for working on shape and color recognition as well as pattern perception and spatial and critical thinking skills. Recently my 4 year old daughter has been getting in on the fun and I can tell this is one that our family is sure to be playing for years to come.

Apples to Apples Junior $15.99 (reading age to adult) and Apples to Apples Family Edition $14.77 (12+ years)

This uber popular game is famous for the hilarity it often causes. But along with being fun, it’s also a great game for strategy and has won numerous awards including “Party Game of the Year” by Games magazine and “Mensa Select” by Mensa International.  The simple concept of selecting the card from your hand that you think is best described by a card played by the judge is also easy for older children to pick up.

Rory’s Story Cubes $7.65 (5 + years) – Along with the original version, there are two additional versions and you can get all three in the The Complete Set: Original, Actions & Voyages

A creative story generator providing hours of imaginative play for all ages, Story Cubes can be played alone or in a group. No reading skills required, simply roll the cubes and let the pictures spark your imagination. This is a wonderful exercise in creative writing each time you play. Plus this pocket-sized game is perfect on-the-go in airplanes, car rides, and hotel rooms. When I first saw these, I wasn’t sure if the “fun factor” would be high enough for my kids but both my 4 year old and 6 year old really enjoy creating stories with them.

HedBanz $7.99 (6+ years) and an adult version (13 – 99 years)

This super popular and very highly rated game is basically the classic “Who am I” game with fun headbands that kids will get a kick out of wearing. Kids will flex their deductive reasoning skills with the game’s simple question-and-answer premise. By making connections and coming up with questions that will lead to answers, they will also practice critical thinking skills.

No Stress Chess $14.99 (6+ years)

When my kindergartner came home from school one day asking me to teach him to play chess, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand I was excited because, despite spending a lot of our time together on sports-related activities, I have great memories of playing chess with my dad growing up. On the other hand, I was afraid he was a little young for it and might get frustrated and give up on the game all together. Enter “No Stress Chess”. This genius game uses cards to teach young kids how to play in stages. The cards tell you which piece to move, so even children (and adults) who have never played the game can jump right in. The moves for each piece are on the cards as well as on the game board and the first stage makes the game about chance, not skill – you simply draw a card and do what it says, perfect for learning how the pieces work. Once that is mastered, you can draw 3 cards at a time and decide which one you want to go with to introduce some strategy to the game. Finally, when you’re ready to play chess for real, just get rid of the cards and flip the board over to a traditional chess board.

Rat-A-Tat Cat $9.96 (6+ years)

One of my close friends recommended this one to me as game her kids are currently loving. I love a game that’s not only fun but also helps to develop all kinds of cool skills in my kids. As children play Rat-a-tat Cat, they develop a sense of timing and an understanding of basic, but essential, mathematical concepts. They learn ways to remember their cards and strategies to figure out what cards other players might have. They also begin to develop an intuitive sense of probability. Rat-a-tat Cat requires skill, strategy, and awareness, challenging both young children and adults. It was an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Best Toy Award winner as well as a Mensa Best New Mind Game Award winner.

Bounce-Off $13.98 (7+ years)

This active game is one that will truly appeal to players spanning a range of ages. Kind of a version of beer pong for kids (stay with me here, we’re not straying from family-friendly – I promise), it’s simple for everyone to understand and play and doesn’t take long to turn into an exciting game of fierce collaboration or hearty competition. One reviewer wrote, “We took advantage of picking this one up for our boys ages 8, 9 and 11… The first day they opened this and started playing, there was nothing but laughter and enjoyment for more than two hours for all three who sat down to play. They all got along (often a problem in competitive board games) and despite the fact that they didn’t bother to keep score, they really liked it… without parental supervision or interaction, they played peacefully and contently for a long time. And they had no problems going back to the game either… Not sure how educational it is, but it works on hand-eye coordination and I’d say it’s one of the better team-building games that we own.”

Ticket to Ride $36.49 (8+ years)

One of the most popular strategy games of all time. This is the original that spawned multiple variations. The reviews of this one say more about the game than I ever could, “A really fun board game for the whole family – especially if they love trains. The goal is to build railroad lines across the USA and ratchet up more points than your opponent(s).”…”I  don’t think I have ever seen a board game that pleases more consistently than this one. In my experience, board games are typically tedious to explain, and boring. Not this game. The beauty of it is its simplicity. It can be picked up very quickly, and the gameplay is quick, with no lulls. But, for all that simplicity in the gameplay, you do not sacrifice any complexity in the strategy.”

Sleepy Queens $9.68 (7+ years)

Invented by 6-year-old Miranda Evarts, this fantasy card game helps develop memory, strategy, and elementary arithmetic skills. Plus, many parents report it often leads to a lot of dramatic play fun once the game is over. I also appreciate the gender neutrality of this game, with queens, kings, knights and more, reviewers rave that both their sons and daughters ask to play again and again. Plus, the game doesn’t drag on too long (always a plus) with average playtime being around 15 minutes.

Ravensburger Labyrnth  $19.99 (6+ years)

There are a few things that I especially appreciate about this super fun game. First, parents report that it’s one of those rare games that kids of all ages not only like, but are also able to win against the adults. Second, it can also be used as a single-player logic game during quiet time (I always LOVE that option). Finally, it’s a total classic and families absolutely love the components of both chance and strategy in the game.

Thinkfun Knot So Fast – $19.99 (8+ years)

My favorite part about this game is that it’s not your typical board game (in fact there is no board). This knot-tying racing game will have the whole family excited to play. From the manufacturer, “Be the first player or team to finish tying the knot shown on one of 40 challenge cards, call out “Knot So Fast.”, then move the Tug-O-War Rope one notch forward. When the Tug-O-War Rope slides all the way to one side, that player or team wins. (Of course, you could always eliminate the time factor for younger kids too.) While knot tying is a great skill to master at any age, it especially helps spatial development and manual dexterity in younger players. Plus kids can play solo and practice for the next head-to-head match up. Looking at this game has me itching to try it and I have a feeling the husband and I might even have a few battle rounds after the kids go to bed.

MPMK Toy Gift Guide: Best kid games to start a family game night with toddlers and pre-readers - Really appreciate the detailed reviews and useful age recommendations in this gift guide.

Especially for Toddlers & Pre-Readers

Thinkfun Roll and Play Board Game $19.17 (18 months – 3 years)

This is the first board game made specifically with young toddlers in mind. Toss the big plush cube and identify which colored side faces up. Choose a matching color card and perform the simple activity shown, such as “Make a happy face”, “Moo like a cow” or “Find something blue”. Designed for parent and child to play together, Roll & Play strengthens bonds and builds confidence while encouraging creativity, active play and gross motor skills. This seems like a great option if you have a preschooler who wants to play a family game with his or her younger sibling too. For another great young-toddler-friendly game, checkout Thinkfun’s Hello Sunshine Game $15.20 (18 months – 3 years) as well!

Eboo Preschool Lotto Game $12.34 (2 – 6 years)

I’m a big fan of the eBoo brand as a whole.  This award-winning lottery game is easy for little ones to pick up on and has the gorgeous illustrations that the company is known for, a great first game.

Eeboo Color Go Fish Playing Cards $7.95 (2+ years)

An award-winning game that centers around visual perception and speed. Our nanny gifted this game to my kids (then 4 and 6) because her kids (9 and 7) really loved it. The goal is to be the first to identify a match on a pair of cards and to call out out the name of the figure in common.  This is the type of game that quickly becomes addictive and will cause lots of laughs and (hopefully) friendly competition. Also check out the newer Disney Frozen – Alphabet and Disney Planes – Alphabet versions.

Richard Scary Busy Town $19.99 (3 – 8 years)

I have heard great things about this cooperative, non-competitive game from multiple sources but was really convinced when a mom of one of my son’s good friends was raving about it. Everything about this game is impressive, from the 6 foot long game board, to the amount of imagination and teamwork required. In fact, the company behind this game, Wonder Forge who also produces another of our favorites, Cat in the Hat, I Can Do That!, has won over 120 prestigious awards by creating good-for-you games that encourage teamwork, healthy competition, and get-up-and-go active play. This is the perfect game for children of multiple ages to play together and for when you hit that stage when kids pout a lot about losing or start to become ultra competitive.

Dr Seuss Super Stretchy ABCs $16.98 (3 – 6 years)

The Dr. Seuss games have a knack for helping restless kids work their wiggles out.  We have Cat in the Hat, I Can Do That! and love it for this purpose.  This twister-like game is on our list because it encourages both physical activity and letter recognition – perfect for preschoolers!

Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game $16.62 (3 – 7 years)

Friends of ours have this game and my kids have enjoyed playing with it during play dates. Along with the lovely look of the game, I like that it covers a wide range of skills by teaching matching, sorting, and strategic thinking while developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. It gets tons of great reviews on Amazon too.

Hoot Owl Hoot Cooperative Board Game $15.99 (3+ years)

I haven’t played this super popular game but I’ve heard it’s a great introduction to board games for your little one.  I especially like that the focus is to work together to accomplish a goal instead of competing.

Spot It! Junior AnimalsSpot It! AlphabetSpot it! Numbers and GamesSpot it! Basic English (to help with beginning reading comprehension) starting at $9.27 (4+ years) and the all-inclusive Spot It! Educational Set (3+ years) that contains all 4 of these for $44.85

An award-winning game that centers around visual perception and speed.  The goal is to be the first to identify a match on a pair of cards and to call out out the name of the figure in common. Teachers saw the learning potential in the huge popularity of this game and started to request educational versions. These are the result – I think we’ll be getting the whole Educational Set for the kids this year.

Zingo $17.99 (4 – 8 years)

This is another super popular game with families with young children and it was another of our family’s first games. A lot like BINGO, players get picture cards and try to fill them up.  There is a speed component too that we use about half the time with our 5 year old and skip with our 3 year old. We have both the standard version and the numbers/math version and both are regularly requested by the kids. Side Note: When your pre-readers become emerging readers, Zingo Word Builder, What’s Gnu? and Zingo Sight Words are also excellent!!

Hot Potato Electronic Musical Passing Game $13.98 (4+ years)

This fun take on the classic hot potato game keeps the element of surprise that kids love while adding in a cute mascot and music. I love that it encourages kids to get active while stuck inside, is simple for everyone to get in on the fun, and can be played for as long (or as short) as you want. The potato can also be used as a timer for all sorts of made up games and this is a great activity for large play dates or kid parties.

Tenzi Dice Game $13.95 (4+ years) and 77 Ways to Play game extender cards

In it’s simpliest form, Tenzi is basically Yahtzee on steroids… a fast-pace game to see who can get all 10 of their dice to show the same number first. Since there’s no counting or math required, this is a game kids of all ages can get it on. But the true genius of Tenzi is revealed when you check out the 77 ways to play cards. With so many fun variations on this simple dice game, the whole family will come back to it again and again. Side Note: If you plan to play with more than 4 players, check out the party pack version (77 ways to play included).

Top learning toys for quiet time: play alone games - love that my kids are building brainpower with these while I get stuff done or have one-on-one time with their sibling.

Single Player Games

If this section looks familiar that’s because versions of it are also a part of our Best S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and math) Toys Guide as well as our Best Educational Quiet Time Toys Guide.

What can I say? I love the idea of having an array of logic games that challenge different skills for my kids to choose from during quiet time.  Plus, each of these games are just plain cool (and many just as enticing to adults as they are to the younger set).

Castle Logix $21.25 (3 – 8 years) and Camelot Jr. $24.00 (4 – 8 years)

The entire line of single player puzzle games from SmartGames gets such stellar reviews that it was hard not to recommend all of them!  The bold colors of these two 3-D wooden castle puzzles especially caught my eye. I bought it for my daughter a couple of years ago and it was an absolute winner. Assemble the wooden blocks and towers to match the challenges included in the booklet.With simple challenges for inexperienced builders to complex puzzles that will challenge skilled architects, these puzzles serve to develop logical thinking skills and spatial reasoning abilities.

Thinkfun Gravity Maze $29.95 (7+ years)

Kids absolutely love marble runs (see above), which is why it is so smart that the goal of this single player logic game is to create a working 3D marble run. Thinkfun is going to be sending this one to us this year and I know my 6 year old son, who is unusually drawn to spatial planning activities, is going to be thrilled to receive it. UPDATE: He does love it! From the manufacturer, “This gravity powered logic maze is sure to put your visual perception and reasoning skills to the test. Thecolorful, translucent towers can be arranged in a plethora of visually stimulating structures but, for each challenge, you’ll have to think carefully to build a path that will successfully carry your marble to its target. 60 challenges, ranging in difficulty, will give you plenty of creative building time while you maneuver the maze in your mind!”

Chocolate Fix $17.19 (7+ years)

Similar to Soduku but made much for fun with the addition of yummy looking chocolate pieces, this single player logic game challenges players (or teams of players) to figure out where to place all of the chocolates on the board according to visual cues. The game gets amazingly high reviewsand I love that the chocolate pieces are extremely enticing to both boys and girls. It was one of the first single-player logic games, other than Castle Logix, to really grab the attention of my daughter and keep it.

Solitary Chess $19.99 (8 – 12 years)

This single player game takes it to the next level by using chess moves to solve logic puzzles. It’s the perfect thing for practicing emerging chess skills when there’s no one available to play with, as one reviewer wrote, “WOW! What a fantastic way to learn the rules of chess! Early challenges help new players get used to the various moves each chess token can make, and there’s a handy reference provided just in case… Great brain exercise in strategy and planning… I would recommend this game to any game lover, whether a chess newbie or someone who has been playing for years – it is a blast, and the packaging design allows it to pack all together and travel easily.” Side Note: This game goes beautifully with No Stress Chess (a really smart game introducing beginners to the mechanics of chess in phases).

eeBoo Design Tiles an Exploratory Activity for Creative Visual Play $28.99 (5 – 15 years)

eeBoo products have always been a favorite of mine (we especially love their color-based Go Fish game for younger kids). Their stunning graphics make them super appealing to kids and adults alike.  These design tiles are certainly no exception. They can be used to complete challenging puzzles or in an open-ended fashion to make all new creations. Critical thinking AND creativity –  that’s my kind of toy!

IQ Twist $9.99 (6+ years)

This compact, award-winning multi-level logic game contains 100 challenges suitable for all ages. It’s small size makes it ideal for car rides and perfect to slip in someone’s stocking this year.

Perplexus Rookie $17.70 (6 – 8 years) for younger kids, Perplexus Maze Game $18.00 (6 – 12 years), and Perplexus Epic $23.81 (6-12 years) for experienced players

Perplexus looks like one of those games that you just can’t help but pick up and play when it’s sitting on a table in front of you and, judging by the massive amounts of positive reviews, it is.  This one is great for developing fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Plus I love that it’s battery-free and completely self-contained within the sphere so there aren’t any pieces to get lost.

Laser Maze Logic Game $28.95 (8 – 15 years)

This one uses a real life laser. Players will build sequential reasoning and planning skills while working on reflecting and splitting the laser beam using mirrors and targets on a puzzle grid to reach their goal. Your kids (and your husband) will think it’s pretty rad.

Compose Yourself $14,99 (6 – 15 years)

This is one of the rare picks on the list I didn’t buy because I asked my favorite game manufacturer,Thinkfun, to send it to me (and they gladly obliged since their other games like Laser Maze, Rush Hour, and Robot Turtles have been such huge hits on the gift guides in years past). These cards arethe perfect stocking stuffer size and I’m really excited to set my kids loose with this highly-rated new composer game and I know that they’re gonna flip over the app element. From the manufacturer, “Start Creating Original Music in Minutes! Invented by world-famous composer and cellist, Philip Sheppard, Compose Yourself combines a set of Music Cards with an exclusive website to allow you to create, play and share your own world-class composition. The 60 transparent Music Cards, each containing a series of notes, are like building blocks for music, and can be arranged to form over a billion musical combinations. Simply select and arrange several of the cards, then register online to hear your melody played by virtuoso percussionist Evelyn Glennie accompanied by a full symphony orchestra. The website will allow you to flip, rotate and swap cards so that you can change your melody until you love what you hear. When you’re done, download an mp3, print music and share with your friends and social networks.

Codemaster Programming Logic Game $23.99 (8+ years)

This is the second of the the three Thinkfun games I requested for my kiddos this year (the third wasLaser Maze Jr.).  Like many of Thinkfun’s games, this one seems to do a very good job of incorporating an educational concept (in this case, the basics of coding) into an incredibly engaging game. Perfect for this list, it’s an offline game in which kids use “action tokens” to create a program for their avatars. The goal is to progress through 60 levels, collecting crystals along the way. The game builds planning, sequential reasoning and problem solving skills along with more complex coding concepts such as loops and conditional branching. I am really intrigued to see what my son will do with it after he opens it up Christmas morning!

 

Last but not least on the list, these are the games we all grew up with. There’s something so nostalgically sweet about introducing our own kids to them. Instead of describing that which we all know and love, I figured the most useful thing would be to list the games by age appropriateness to help you figure out exactly when to make the introductions.

Classic First Games

Classics for the Whole Family

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MPMK's Famous Toy Gift Guides

P.S. See all 15 of our 2016 Gift Guides here

NEW THIS YEAR: Check out our Alerts Page for Sales on All of the Toys – Updated Daily!

Still want more ideas? Don’t forget to check out all 10 of the MPMK Gift Guides, organized by your child’s interest, including:

Plus, our five guides organized by age:

If you like these recommendations, I encourage you to pin or bookmark them for later when you’re ready to start shopping.  I would also love it if you forwarded the list on to your parenting friends or shared it on facebook – trust me, your friends will thank you for the help and you get to be the cool mom (or dad) with all the best resources. It’s a win-win.

Also, don’t forget for even more recommendations and alerts when we spot our gift guide items on sale:

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One last thing, while shopping, please consider adding an item from Hope on the Hill Guild’s

Gift Wish List for Seattle Children’s Hospital

The list benefits the Autism Center & Opera​tion Family Care and contains items that are in high demand within that program. You can have the items shipped to the provided address and they will be delivered to the Autism Center or hospital directly. There are many items as low as $2 – $5 and every gift helps a child in need!

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P.P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and save time so you can connect with your family? Follow these 2 steps:

1) Check out our “Back-to-School Super Saver Bundle”: over 50 pages of 2015 – 2016 daily/weekly/monthly planners, cleaning schedules, meal planners, kids’ routine charts, budgeting sheets and much more PLUS 84 pages of low-stress holiday activities perfect for making memories with the kids!
Over 150 pages of organizational gold

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