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Gift Guide 2013: Top Picks for Family Game Night

Gift guide: family game night - great picks for kids of all ages.

 

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! Below you’ll find a selection of games the whole family will love, including some to help you start your a game night ritual even with your youngest kiddos.

Don’t forget – you can check out all 10 of our 2013 Gift Guides here!

Once again this year, I’m heading up each list with my favorites from all the picks – here, ordered by age, are my top 7 Picks for Family Game Night (scroll down for full details on each):

  1. Eeboo Color Go Fish Playing Cards $8.00 (2+ years)
  2. Hoot Owl Hoot Cooperative Board Game $15.99 (3+ years)
  3. Spot It! Educational Set (4 – 7 years) $44.85
  4. Zingo $17.99 (4 – 8 years)
  5. Qwirkle $19.21 (5+ years)
  6. Rory’s Story Cubes Complete Set: Original, Actions & Voyages $20.02 (5+ years)
  7. HedBanz $7.99 (6+ years)

Read on for 37 of my favorite picks for family game night, broken down into:

  • Highly Acclaimed Games
  • Games Especially for Toddlers & Pre-Readers
  • 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.

Along those lines, 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 follow us on facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

Ready for the big list? Here we go…

Gift guide: best games for family game night - the third one on the list is our favorite!

Highly Acclaimed

  • 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.  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.
  • 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, the Ravensburger Make ‘N’ Break game 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 and logical skills, speed, and a little luck, it’s a stimulating game with excellent replay value.
  • Qwirkle $19.21 (5+ years) - 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 still fantastic for working on shape and color recognition as well as pattern perception and spatial and critical thinking skills. This is one that our family is sure to be playing for years to come.
  • Blokus (and Blokus Jr.) $15.00 (5+ years) - Similar to Qwirkle, this is another strategy board game that challenges spatial thinking. Kind of like 3D Tetris, but not exactly, this game moves quickly and doesn’t require any score keeping. It’s also a multi-award winner and gets rave reviews.
  • Apples to Apples Family Edition $14.77 (12+ years) and Apples to Apples Junior $15.99 (reading age to adult) – 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 easy for older children to pick up.
  • HedBanz $7.99 (6+ years) and an adult version (13 – 99 years) – This is basically the classic “Who am I” game with fun headbands that kids will get a kick out of. 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, kids will also practice creative critical thinking skills.
  • MindWare Dizios $19.00 (6+ years) – A beautiful version of dominos in which tiles are placed down one by one to connect colors and create a flowing pattern. The game is easy to play but hard to win and only takes about 30 minutes to complete.
  • Rory’s Story Cubes $7.65 (5 + years) – Along with the original version, there are two additional versions.  Check out the Complete Set: Original, Actions & Voyages $20.02 – 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 – 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.
  • Ticket to Ride $36.49 (8+ years) – One of the most popular strategy games of all time. This is the original that spawned multiple subsequent 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.”

gift guide: best games to start a family game night with toddlers and pre-readers

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.
  • 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 $8.00 (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 3 years later at age 5.
  • Spot It! Junior AnimalsSpot It! AlphabetSpot it! Numbers and GamesSpot it! Basic English (to help with beginning reading comprehension) 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 version and both are regularly requested by the kids.
  • 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!
  • Super Why ABC Letter Preschool Game $19.44 (3+ years) – And speaking of letter recognition, Super Why is one of the few shows we let our kids watch. Just like the show, this game looks like a fun way to teach and reinforce beginning reading skills.
  • 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 teaches matching, sorting, and strategic thinking while developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
  • Hoot Owl Hoot Cooperative Board Game $15.99 (3+ years) – I haven’t played this but it sounds like 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.
  • Rory’s Story Cubes $7.65 (5 + years) – Along with the original version, there are two additional versions.  Check out the Complete Set: Original, Actions & Voyages $20.02 – 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 – 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.

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

*Post contains affiliate links.

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 to follow us on facebook and subscribe to our newsletter for even more recommendations and alerts when we spot our gift guide items on sale!

P.S. See all 10 of our 2013 Gift Guides here.Over 250 of the most engaging educational toys out there - the only gift guide you'll need this year! (love the detailed descriptions and age recommendations)

 

 

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