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A good family board game is more than just for hosting a game night—it can also strengthen the family bond, create lasting memories and encourage cognitive skills along the way.
“Choosing one best family board game is a tough challenge,” says Erik Arneson, a game expert and the author of How to Host a Game Night. But as he explains, the best options are usually suitable for a range of ages, meaning younger players can easily pick up the rules, and also entertaining enough for adults.
Cardner Clark, store manager of Guardian Games in Portland, Oregon, weighs in. “When I’m looking for a family game, I want something that’s both easy to learn and can be played again and again,” he says. In addition to the recommended age range, you’ll want to consider the type of game (cooperative, strategy, mystery, guessing, drawing, trivia, etc.), along with the required number of players and time commitment. With pointers from these experts in mind, we rounded up standout picks in every category.
Here, the best family board games to play with your loved ones.
The best family board game is Ticket to Ride (view at Amazon), a fast-paced and competitive game that’s easy to learn but also engaging for all ages. We like that it encourages strategic thinking and fosters a sense of adventure. However, if you’re looking for something that allows for several players, your best bet is Double Ditto (view at Amazon), an award-winning board game that can be played with up to 20 people.
When shopping around for family board games, you’ll notice there are various types to choose from. This includes strategy, cooperative, trivia, drawing, and guessing games, along with different themes, such as mystery, fantasy, and adventure.
Before buying a family board game, make sure to check the recommended age range. “The best family games work well with a variety of ages, meaning that younger players can understand the rules and take part, while older players are not bored out of their minds,” says Arneson.
Number of players
The other thing to consider about board games is the minimum and maximum number of players. Most games call for at least two players, though some require three or more. Additionally, some board games cap out at five players, while others can be played with anywhere from eight to 20 or more people.
We also recommend looking at the playing time for each board game. Some games, strategy in particular, can take upwards of 60 minutes to play. On the other hand, lots of options are much less time-consuming, taking as little as 15 minutes to complete.
How you store your board games depends on your space. If you play board games often, store your favorites in an accessible space, like a cabinet or closet on your main level. Storage furniture, like a bench, ottoman, or coffee table, is also an option for avid game-players. Try organizing the rest of your board games by age or category, then storing them on shelves or in labeled bins in another area of your home.
If you’re done with a board game, first make sure it has enough pieces to be functional, and that it’s clean and in working condition. Local thrift stores or charities often accept donations of games and toys, or you can inquire with local schools or libraries. You can also try your community’s “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook, or passing your board games along to loved ones who may appreciate them more than you.
You don’t have to hide your games if you’d rather keep them on display — plus, they’ll always be within reach. If you want to use your board games as decor and keep them accessible, try keeping them on a bookshelf, organizing by color for extra flair. Ladder-style shelves, sturdy floating shelves, or cube shelves are other options for creatively displaying your board games.
Theresa Holland is a freelance content creator specializing in consumer goods, parenting, and lifestyle. Before writing this story, she interviewed three game experts who provided specific recommendations and insight into the most important qualities of a family board game. She pored over reviews and considered the playing time, recommended age range, and number of players before making her selections, all of which are easy to learn and fun for adults and kids alike. Theresa loves board games and has played several hands of Telestrations, Sorry!, and Double Ditto over the years. She has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019, where she covers recreation, travel, family products. Additional reporting was done by Ashley Abramson, a writer whose work has appeared in MyDomaine, the New York Times, Washington Post, Allure, InStyle, and more.
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