Gaming During the Holidays 

Believe it or not this year is fast approaching the season we all know as “The Holiday Season”. And for whatever that will mean as different families all celebrate it differently, even to those families which celebrate the same holidays they often celebrate them differently. While I am not here to, nor am I ging to try to tell you dear reader, or anyone how they should celebrate the holiday season one common denominator in all such holidays is togetherness. 

And for those of us who love board games, there are few better ways to spend togetherness with those that we love, than board games. So what are good ways to do this? This article will attempt to help guide you into some good holiday games options for you and yours this year. 

This article is not going to tell you what to play, or how to play it. Rather give suggestions for what kinds of games make for good

holiday games, and a few “Don'ts” to keep in mind before you play. Hopefully after reading this you can potentially feel more equipped to potentially connect better with those out-of-state relatives you don’t know as well. Or even just make new memories with those who are already close and dear. Maybe they don’t even like board games, or perhaps they go “Board games? You mean like Monopoly and Candyland? We are not children.” No matter who it is, there is a game for them, this I am confident in. You know the old saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Even though people are drained at different rates, and are refueled in different ways, everyone has a deep emotional need for connection with others. Games are a time-tested way to get that. 

Just like movies, books, sports, food, and vacations spots, everyone will have different preferences as to how they prefer to enjoy games. With different amounts of interaction, depth, focus, logic, and creativity involved some games may be lead balloons for a few in your group, or they may soar as high as Apollo 11 for others. The first thing to know is this: 

Don’t assume the game(s) you love will be loved by the people you love 

What this will end up meaning is not every person will want to play the game that others do. While it is always good to be sensitive to the wants and needs of others, sometimes that will mean some people will merely want to watch. And that is okay!

Let people celebrate the ways that they want to, which may or may not include games at that time. Have games as an option, not a requirement. 

Make sure that those who watch or walk in and out of experiencing the game actually want to just do that. Don’t exclude people because they want to play something else. That quickly brings us to the next point: 

Don’t assume that everyone must play the same game, or that there can only be one play of a game 

Sometime half the group will want to go one way and the other half the other (or even more complicated ratios) that is okay too! It is actually better for there to be different groups playing different games if your gathering is a certain size. Two four-player games will generally have more, “better”, interaction than one game you’ve gotten all 8 people to play. (This is a precept not a rule.) It becomes even more true when you scale those numbers to 6 and 12. 

Starting multiple staggered games allows people to feel like joining is less or a commitment and more of a joy. If someone has personal goals at a party or gathering, being able to participate in a shorter game which is not intended to be the only game allows people to not compromise their goals (talking to grandma, getting that famous recipe from Aunt Sally, or hearing about their new baby cousin’s first few months).

I would strongly encourage shorter games which are easier to pick-up and learn over games which take hours or more (even if those are the games this writer typically prefers to play.) Games which fall into the “Gateway Game” category are all great options for games to teach and play. 

If you are unfamiliar with games in the Gateway Game category, or even what that means then you may be happy to hear that the next article(s) being worked on by this writer is going to be a disambiguation on the subject as well as recommendations in the genre 

If the idea of “splitting the party” is not something you and the others want to do then party games are a great option as well. As the name suggests they are quick, simple-to-learn games, with an high max-player-count. 

And finally my last Don’t before getting to some suggestions of what may be good for your group to play this year. 

Don’t forget what it is really about 

As much fun as your collection of designer games is, and despite how much your group loves the games you play with them. For newer players they just won’t have that connection or immersion yet. Don’t sacrifice interaction with people who want to do X or Y other activities to make sure you get the chance to try out that new title you are excited about. While I firmly trust that there is a game for everyone, there is not necessarily a game for everyone at every moment, and forcing a game on a group at the wrong time will make for a sour memory which otherwise could have been warm and sweet. Love the people around you, that means preferring them to yourself.

Finally here is a quick list of games which I think have high potential to be big hits for you this year and for years to come. I will organise them by loose category for ease of pinning down a selection for you and yours. If you see a title you like in a category, learn more about it at 

Games which are super quick and easy to teach/Low commitment games: 

Games which have you communicating in unique ways: 

Games which let you get under each other’s skin:

Games which explore your group’s creativit

Games which are high-energy 

Thank you so much for taking your time to read this article, no matter how you spend the rest of your year we sure do hope you have a very enjoyable rest of your year, and an even greater year after!