It’s the holidays, and if you’re like us, holidays mean spending time with the family. And if you’re also like us, spending time with the family means not properly dealing with all the pent up frustrations and resentments that have morphed into an unmanageable ball of anxiety deep within your gut. Enter board games! What better way to settle the score with your loved ones than by challenging them to a “game” that totally doesn’t act as a makeshift alternate universe where you get to tell them how you really feel (wink wink). We kid, we kid! That said, board games are a great way to add a little excitement to the night once catching up gets old and you realize you’re the only one who cares about the Downtown Abbey Christmas Special. Are you even related to these people?! With that, we present the best holiday board games to entertain every family type.
Cards Against Humanity
Why it rocks the holidays: Maybe you don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, but chances are you have the same sense of humour as your family, no matter how dysfunctional you are otherwise. Is half the family drunk by 5pm? Not a problem, since keeping score isn’t really the point of Cards Against Humanity and it’s rooted in the idea of being mean, which alcohol only tends to fuel. If you’ve played Apples to Apples, this is the same deal except it’s for rude, awful people — in other words, awesome people. The game is simple: each player gets 10 white “answer” cards and each player takes a turn picking a black “question” card from a pile. Black cards says things like “__________. That’s how I want to die.” Prepare to feel dirty, exposed and terrified, but in that Christmas kind of way.
Why it rocks the holidays: You split up in teams for Taboo, which means you get to side with your favourite relatives before the fun even begins and get ready to wreak havoc on your enemies — we mean, your least favourite siblings and cousins. You need to get your teammates to say the phrase on the card without using any of the Taboo words, so make sure you’ve got the relative with the best vocabulary on your team. That’s probably the English lit major, and he or she probably bought you a used book for Christmas, , so let him or her make up for being such a deadbeat by winning game night.
Why it rocks the holidays: This is a bluffing game, so it’s a great way to prove once and for all who the biggest liar is in the family. Players take turns picking a card that asks for definition of an obscure word or the plot summary of a little known book, or something along those lines. Everyone writes a fake answer that gets mixed in a pile with the real answer and everyone then picks what he or she thinks is the correct one. Who would have thought Mom was so good at making things up? Explains a lot about your childhood, doesn’t it?
Why it rocks the holidays: Again, splitting up into teams is a surefire way to make sure 2015 starts off with new resentments and reasons to avoid coming home for Thanksgiving. Pictionary lets you flex your creative muscle if you’ve got a way with sketches and it at least makes your parents proud for one brief moment that you majored in Liberal Arts.
Why it rocks the holidays: It’s charades with the added stress of a timer. Um, want to see your type-A lawyer brother-in-law have a nervous breakdown trying to act out something as simple as “monkey”? Yeah, you do! Keep your iPhone handy because the video evidence is going to have some serious bribing mileage down the road. You’re welcome.
The Game of Things
Why it rocks the holidays: This game is less about scoring points and more about hanging out, so if you’re not into the whole competitive vibe of a game night, this one’s for you. There’s really just a big deck of cards, and each one asks players something like “Things you would do if you could change genders for a day.” The answers get mixed together and everyone takes turns guessing who wrote what. It’s a great way to actually bond, you know, if you’re into that kind of thing. You’ll see how much you know about each other and possibly find out some things that you will never be able to unsee.
Why it rocks the holidays: Mixing elements of Pictionary, word games, charades and more, this is kind of the triathalon of board games and only for a truly competitive family. You can split up in teams of 2, 3 or 4, so it’s a great way to break the family up into a Game of Thrones-esque war of tribes and alliances. Drunk Uncle is only going to drag you down, but this might be the time to make up with the smartass of a sister you sometimes hate but secretly envy.
Want to really let one of your relatives know how you feel without, like, actually confronting them in a non-passive-aggressive way? This game is for you! Imaginiff makes each player the focus of a question, like “Imaginiff…[fill in player’s name] were a section of a restaurant menu. Which would he/she be?” or Imaginiff…[fill in player’s name] were a fashion fad. Which would he/she be?” Everyone’s opinions of each other then spill out. We’re not saying it’s a healthy way to end the year, but it’s definitely a release if you’ve been bottling up emotions.
Enjoy and happy holidays!