The day my kids deemed Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders “boring” was nearly as exciting as the day they began buckling their own seat belts. No more trying to secretly rig it so that they pulled the ice cream cone card at the end of the Candy Land trail or conveniently sticking my finger out to stop the spinner on the five they needed to take the ladder to the top. We were finally able to play REAL games that were actually fun for the entire family. Since that time, our game closet has turned into something akin to the game aisle at Target. There were some winners and there were some losers, but these 6 games are our tried and true favorites for kids from 7 to 107:
- Monopoly Empire—The fun of Monopoly in about a quarter of the time, this game encourages players to collect well-known brands (think xBox, Coca Cola, Nerf) to build their empire. Secret Empire Cards throw in unexpected twists along the way. With hundreds of different Monopoly games out there to choose from, this is the one that passes GO on our list.
- Catan—This German game transcends ages and cultures, having been translated into 30 languages over its 20 plus year existence. Don’t let the heavy time investment learning the rules and set up deter you—the pay off is well worth it. A little luck and a lot of strategy help players secure resources to build and expand settlements. With the dozens of expansion and extension packs available, it’s nearly impossible to get tired of this game.
- Scattegories—Whether you stick to the original 1988 version or opt for the new-ish 2010 Scattegories Categories, the challenge of this game increases with the size of the group. Play individually or team up for some laughs as you battle the timer to come up with unique answers for 12 categories using just one letter of the alphabet. It’s fun to see the generational differences: celebrities that start with a “T”: adults, Tom Cruise; kids, Taylor Swift.
- 5 Crowns—The ultimate winner in our family, this game goes everywhere with us —dinners, trips, the beach, you name it. Like Rummy, but with five suits of cards, the full game goes 11 rounds, but you can adapt it based on the amount of time you have…though I’m warning you, you won’t want to stop!
- Ticket to Ride—Similar to Catan both in strategy and complexity of set up, Ticket To Ride is another German-based frontrunner. Players build trains across the U.S. in an effort to rack up points, giving the added benefit of helping children (and even grownups) with geography. Though we have yet to give them a whirl, this game also offers various expansion packs as well as spinoffs like Ticket to Ride Europe and Rails & Sails—a double-sided board featuring maps of The World and The Great Lakes.
- Catch Phrase—Be quick or get buzzed! This fast moving game gets your brain working as you attempt to describe words, phrases or people to your team before the timer runs out. Compact and great for any size crowd, Catch Phrase encourages players to be descriptive and think outside of the box.
What are you waiting for? It’s your move!