Okay, this is it. The final gift list for 2021. And this one might be the most fun?
The Grahams play a lot of games. We play games when we camp. We play games on the back porch on summer evenings. We play games a lot in the cold winter months. We also do a lot of puzzles in the winter. Winter feels like puzzle weather.
This is a list of some of our favorites. Truthfully, I had a hard time narrowing it down. Apparently, we love a lot of games and puzzles. So the main point of this post might not be to buy the ones we love (even though I think you’ll love them like we do!), but to play games with people you love and sit around a table with good snacks and an intricate puzzle with others. It actually doesn’t matter which ones you choose.
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Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza (link)
This is our current go-to game. We played it at Thanksgiving with family and had so much fun. It was the first time we’d played it with more than just the four of us, and it’s a much better game with a 5 or 6 people. Our dogs HATE this game because it’s loud (think slapping and pounding the table). They normally hide in my office when we play. It’s also kinda rough, but that’s only if you play with very competitive people who don’t tone it down when playing with kids. Which is my whole family. (This would be a great stocking stuffer.)
LEGO Minifigure 1000 Piece Puzzle (link)
Our family tradition is puzzles for Christmas morning. Chris and I normally each get a puzzle, and the girls get one too. After presents have been opened and we’re watching movies and eating more food, someone opens up one of the puzzles and then we spend the rest of the day, on and off, completing the puzzle. By the evening, everyone has spent some time working on it and it’s done. This LEGO minifigure puzzle was Chris’ puzzle last year. If you have a LEGO fan in your family, this one is really fun.
Uno Flip (link)
We play a lot of games when we camp, and this is one of the two card games we play the most. It’s like the original Uno, but the cards are two-sided and depending on how a card is played, you might have to flip your hand and start a whole different strategy to win. This is a more cut-throat Uno, and we love it. (This would be a great stocking stuffer.)
Harper fell in love with Tenzi at school. She finally bought it for herself this summer when we were traveling, and she plays with it often. She can mess around with the dice by herself, play with Ellie, or we can all play together. It’s a quick game if you need it to be. For a stocking stuffer this Christmas, she’s getting the 77 ways to play card set that expands the Tenzi game into all kinds of other stuff.
Monopoly Deal (link)
This is the other card game we play a lot while camping. This one is a little more intense and time consuming than Uno Flip, but it’s easy to set up and clean up and is definitely shorter than the never-ending original Monopoly game. I’m actually not a fan of Monopoly, but this one isn’t half as bad as that boring version that takes four years to play. (This would be a great stocking stuffer.)
Oh look, the English major is telling you to buy Scrabble. Didn’t see that coming. No, but seriously, Scrabble is fun! Ellie spent time at my mom’s this weekend, and she played it for the first time. She came home telling me how fun it was, and I was personally insulted she thought she was telling me something I didn’t know. Not to give you a very personal glimpse into our marriage, but Chris and I used to play Scrabble a lot when the girls were little. They’d go to bed, and we’d stay up late playing Scrabble. Like the elderly people we were meant to be. Our Scrabble board got ruined this summer while camping, so I’m getting a new one for Christmas. HUMBLE BRAG.
Exploding Kittens (link)
Adding this to the list because it’s an Ellie Graham favorite. The cards are clever. Death is eminent, but it’s fun (and quick). I love quick games, seriously.
Don’t sleep on Jenga. (Is anyone actually sleeping on Jenga? No. I just wanted to type that.) This is fun for all ages, and doesn’t last super long. (See above for my views on quick games.) You can play a few rounds in a short amount of time, and it’s fun for kids to play by themselves. When the girls were younger, they would “practice” Jenga so they were ready the next time family game night rolled around.
A Rainbow World 1000 Piece Puzzle (link)
This is another Christmas morning puzzle. We actually like to pick up puzzles when we travel and save them for presents. This is mine from last year; we picked it up in North Carolina, I opened it Christmas morning in Indiana, and then we carried it down to Florida where we celebrated the New Year. That’s the great thing about puzzles, they can go anywhere and fill a whole evening.
Ticket to Ride (link)
Okay, full disclosure: we own this, but haven’t played it yet. We know lots of friends who love it, so I’m trusting their opinions and adding this to the list. We’ll probably break it open in December, so I’ll come back and delete this if it’s dumb. Stay tuned.
I played Sequence a lot with my family growing up. We loved the strategy of it; how we could all play, no matter what age we were (I mean, not toddlers, but 10 and up, for sure). When the girls were little, I discovered they had made a Sequence for Kids (link) version so we used to play this when the girls were younger. We passed it on to our niece, because now the Graham girls (10 & 12) are old enough to play the adult version.
Pets Rock 550 Piece Puzzle (link)
Another fun puzzle we love. This is one the girls got for Christmas a few years ago. It’s the right size to be challenging but not overwhelming for older kids. Also, it’s pop stars as cats and dogs. If you have an Adele or Katy Perry fan, this would be fun to give them.
Mexican Train Dominoes (link)
Mexican Train is another classic we’ve been playing for years. You can play with 4 or more people and it’s just basic matching, but with strategy and luck. We love this one for game nights with friends.
Follow Your Nose Puzzle (link)
Last puzzle suggestion, I promise! They just make so many great puzzles now. You don’t even need my suggestions, just Google your favorite thing (succulents, shoes, maps, etc.) and “puzzle.” You’ll find plenty of great ones. We really love dogs, so this dog puzzle was a hit.
Skip-Bo is another childhood classic for me. My maternal grandparents loved playing Skip-Bo, and we played it at their house all the time. It’s good for older kids or adults, and it would be a good addition to a family game night. (Again, another great stocking stuffer.)
Finally, two games I’m buying for Christmas this year that I’ve seen lots of people talk about recently: Slapzi (link) and IncoHEARent (link). Slapzi is made by the same people who make Tenzi, but it’s cards instead of dice. Harper has her eye on this one so Santa is bring it this year. If you’re interested in both Tenzi and Slapzi, Amazon sells them together as a set. IncoHEARent is more of an adult game. They do sell a kids’ verison, but I’m buying the adult version for game night with our friends. It’s along the lines of Cards Against Humanity, so keep that in mind if you’re gifting it. It’s not for everyone.
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