I love intentional time with my family. When I came up with the idea to have a post each week about stewardship, I really wanted it to be about all kinds of intentional living. Managing time, money, relationships, I feel very strongly about using every blessing that God has given me in a way that honors him.
So this is one of the ways that Ken and I are intentional about spending time with each other and with our kids. Buying board games, doesn’t seem like a super frugal gift on its face, but if you compare it to other family activities like going to movies, it is so much cheaper. Many games can be bought for less than the price of taking a family of five to the movie theater, and games can be played again and again.
This is also an educational activity. Kids learn logical thinking through strategy, math through adding points or making change for game coins. They learn sportsmanship through winning and losing, and compromise by taking turns to choose a game.
Ken and I love games too. We have had many a date night at home in order to live frugally. The kids get to watch a movie, we make some decaf and play our favorite game together. It gives us a chance to connect over something that isn’t kids, ministry or the day to day grind.
I have compiled a list of our 15 favorite games to play as a family and as a couple. These are great family gift ideas and worth thinking about now since the price of games will go up the closer it gets to the holidays.
Unless you are the greatest of game fans (in which case you have probably heard of a lot of these) I suggest you scroll down to the category that looks most suitable for your family and read that section first.
$- up to $10
$$- up to $20
$$$- up to $30
$$$$- up to $40
$$$$$- over $40
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Games for Getting Young Kids into Games
These are games for people who haven’t played a lot of games. These can include everyone in our household (even H-age 5). Grab these if you want to get your young children into playing games.
Say Anything– This is a non strategy game, we bought it because it was recommended as a game that helps you know your children better. It gets very silly and our kids always love it. The basic premise of the game is that you try to guess which of several choices a family member would choose. $$
Catan Junior– This is the kids version of the popular game Catan. We got it for our twins when they were six. It helped teach them the mechanics of games that have a little more than just roll the dice and move your piece to them. The premise is similar to Catan, you build houses and ships around an island and try to avoid the pirates. The first to build all their houses wins. H loves it now, and she is thrilled to be included in a family game that she can actually play. This is probably her second favorite game after Say Anything. It’s so much more entertaining for an adult who is playing games with a kid to play this instead of Uno for the millionth time.$$$
Survive–This one is a little harder than the first two, H can execute the mechanics of the game, but the strategy is over her head. The twins could play it at age 7 and understand its strategy some. The premise of this game is that an island is crumbling into the ocean, you have to get your players from the island to the mainland without getting eaten by sharks and before the volcano erupts and destroys everything. $$$$
Bohnanza– In this card game you can plant your bean fields and try to get the most points. It sounds a little weird, but if you are a fan of card games but want something different to try this is a good one. $$
Group Games (Fellowship Over Strategy)
These are games for people who don’t like strategy games. They are great for when you have friends over and don’t want something that will take forever or make you think too much about Pirates or Barbarians stealing all your wheat.
Quiddler– This is a card game that is similar to scrabble. As weird as that sounds it is very fun, and you don’t have to know long unpronounceable words to win. There are just as many points to be made for making five tiny words as there are for making one huge word. Its a nice change if you love word games. $$
Set– This is a game where speed counts. You have to look for sets of cards hidden in an array of twelve and the first person to find the set, grabs it. This game doesn’t involve strategy, but it does rely on logic and quick thinking. The twins learned at age 8, but it took some time to really get it down. H somehow is really good at this game even though she is 5. $$
Sequence– A relative brought this to a family reunion and it is fun and low-key. It is simple enough for all ages, and can be played with individuals or in teams. Each player or team draws a card and places a token on the board. It reminds me of bingo, except it is a community board and players can block each other and take other players tokens off the board. It can be played with 2-12 players. $$
Love Letters–In this game players try to be the last one standing-the one whose love letter gets to the princess to woo her. There are multiple editions available (some that aren’t so girly like Batman or Hobbit edition). This game is super simple-only sixteen cards, but can be played over and over again. $
Simpler Strategy Games
These games are great family games for families who love games. They take strategy, but not so much thinking that they take forever to play. These are great to test on friends who say they love games, but you aren’t sure how much they really love games.
Ticket to ride– This one is just plain fun. Build your train tracks across the United States, complete the most routes to win points. It vaguely teaches geography, but I feel like the most educational component of this game is adding points. There have been tons of editions of this game made, so if it becomes a family favorite there will be many more choices. $$$$$
Carcassone– This game is super simple to explain and get started. It doesn’t take tons of set up, so you can get started in a few minutes. Take turns placing city, river and field tiles to build your countryside. Try to steal your friends cities and roads or sneak your farmers into someone else’s field. $$
Catan Dice– This is a much shorter version of the popular game Settlers of Catan. There is no set up and it only takes a half an hour to play a game. It doesn’t take up a lot of space in your closet either since it consists of a set of dice and a paper pad to fill out. If you like regular Catan but hate all the little pieces this one is amazing. $
Castles of Mad King Ludwig– LOVE this game! In this game you have been commissioned by Mad King Ludwig to build the weirdest most crazy castle ever. Its awesome because hello- you’re building a castle! Three kitchens and no bedrooms? NO problem. Want to add a bowling alley? Why wouldn’t you? We have yet to play this game with anyone who didn’t like it. $$$$$
Advanced Strategy Games
These are the games for hard core gamers. You love games and you aren’t afraid to show it. 20 page instruction book? Bring it on.
Tiny Epic Quest– Exactly what it says. It comes in a tiny box, but it unfolds into a full size board game. Equip your shield and go on a quest. But don’t quest too far into the night or you will lose everything. $$$
Orleans–BEST. GAME. EVER. If I had to get rid of all my games except for one it would be this one hands down. This game can be played competitively, or (with the expansion) as a cooperative game. Gather resources, travel the french countryside. Maybe you will become a scholar, or a craftsman. But get enough citizens before the barbarians attack or you’ll be sorry! This game skyrocketed in price last Christmas, so if you want it you need to get it soon. $$$$
Puerto Rico– Settle the island of Puerto Rico. Colonists are constant;y coming to the new world and its your job to put them to work. Harvest your crops and send them back to England, or sell them in the traders market. Buy buildings to give you the edge over your opponents. $$$
What games is this list missing? We are always looking for our next one!