10 Great Games to Gift to Kids this Christmas

Christmas is ever-approaching and with it, the stress of buying presents for the pickiest of present recipients—children and teenagers. Maybe they’re nieces, nephews, cousins, family friends, many of whom you probably haven’t seen for the majority of this year. Or perhaps this picky child is your own child! Maybe you’re sick of playing the same old Monopoly or Jenga and you’re looking for a game to play together as a family, but you’re afraid of getting something too mature or too kiddish.

Never fear, Gameology is here.

 

Today, I’ll be doing a quick run-down of ten games that make great presents for kids. Keep in mind that while we have included the recommended ages for these board games as printed on the box, you know your child best!

 

 

1) Klask

Recommended age: 8+

 

For those kids who love fast-paced competitive games, 2 player dexterity game, Klask, is a great choice. Similar to air hockey or soccer, you try to hit the ball into your opponent’s goal, but the cool trick is, you control your striker with a magnet held under the table! This dexterity game rewards quick reaction times as you try not to let your striker fall into your own goal or get stuck to the little magnetic ‘biscuits’ rolling around the field. A 4 player version of this game (Klask 4) is also available if you want to play as a bigger group!

 

 

2) Takenoko

Recommended age: 8+

 

In this adorably colourful game, 2-4 players grow and harvest bamboo while feeding the Emperor’s panda. Though a little more strategic, kids will have no trouble picking up the mechanics of tile laying and action points, many of which lay the foundation for other board games you can play with them in the future! With its gorgeous stackable bamboo pieces and pre-painted panda and farmer pieces, Takenoko is both a treat to look at and a treat to play.

 

 

3) Kingdomino

Recommended age: 8+

 

This bright little game is a perfect kids-friendly introduction to tile-placement mechanics. Starting from your castle, you will expand your kingdom by placing domino-esque lands, trying to match up terrain for the most points. After each player has completed a 5x5 grid, the game ends. Playing up to 4 players in only 15 minutes, Kingdomino is a fun, breezy tile-laying game that the whole family can enjoy.

 

 

4) Dominion

Recommended age: 13+

 

Now this classic strategy deck-builder might seem like an odd choice for this list. When I was about 10, my 15-year-old cousin brought this game over to play on Christmas. However after Christmas, he accidentally left the game at our house and just forgot about it. Years later, as a teenager, I returned to this game and, to this day, it is probably my favourite board game ever. Without Dominion, I probably would not be into the board gaming hobby (and I also would not be here, working at Gameology, writing this post you’re reading right now). Though I would recommend this for teenagers as opposed to children, I have played it recently with my 10-year-old cousin and she found it easy to pick up. Dominion is a solid introduction to the deck-building genre and a game that could stay with your kids well into adulthood.

 

 

5) Princess Jing

Recommended age: 8+

 

Described as ‘hide-and-seek as a board game’, Princess Jing is a 2 player hidden movement game where you must help a princess escape from the city! Players will sit opposite each other, and the gorgeous 3D pillars will totally conceal the positions of your pieces from your opponent. Kids will appreciate the fun novelty of using characters holding actual mirrors (!) to reveal their opponent’s pieces, and adults will appreciate the unique concept for a board game.

 

 

6) Minecraft: Builders & Biomes

Recommended age: 10+

 

If your kid is uninterested in anything except video games, try this 2-4 player game based on Minecraft. Kids that are a fan of the original game will adore the familiar actions of mining resources and exploring the Overworld, and delight in the recognisable mobs like Endermen and Creepers. To be honest, as a Minecraft fan myself, I kind of want this game. For those stubborn kids who shun your attempts at introducing them to board games, bring their favourite video game to the table with Minecraft: Builders & Biomes.

 

 

7) My Little Scythe

Recommended age: 8+

 

Everyone who knows board games knows the dieselpunk/steampunk legend, Scythe. With its giant mechs and strategic gameplay, it’s an iconic board game. Perhaps you dream of one day playing Scythe with your kids when they’re a bit older. In the meantime however, try the cute kid-friendly My Little Scythe. This sweet game maintains the essence of some of Scythe mechanics, like ‘powering up’ your player board, using dials and cards to determine combat, and moving across the hexes to gain resources, but keeps them light and easy to understand. With the theme of friendship ingrained into the mechanics and 3D animal mascots, My Little Scythe brings the classic revered board game to the kids.

 

 

8) Monsieur Carrousel

Recommended age: 4+

 

I’ve covered a lot of strategy games so far on this list, but what about something simpler? Monsieur Carrousel has the lowest recommended age so far on this list, perfect for kids who aren’t ready for Princess Jing or Kingdomino yet. In this 1-6 player game, players will try to get all the kids on the carousel before it starts raining! With dice to roll and carousels to spin, this game is quick to play and easy to learn. And even better, say goodbye to sore losers and bickering because Monsieur Carrousel is cooperative!

 

 

9) Sushi Go

Recommended age: 8+

 

In this adorable little tin, kids can pretend they are at a sushi train restaurant while also learning the basics of pick-and-pass card drafting. In the spirit of the primary school strategy for passing out worksheets, players will, each turn, keep one card from their hand and pass the rest along. Each different type of sushi has its own scoring criteria. For tofu, you want some tofu, but more than three? That’s just too much! Dip your nigiri into wasabi? That’s triple points! Though a bit of math is needed to calculate scoring, the little sushi are so cute, your kids won’t even realise they’re doing math. If you want even more sushi options to play with, a bigger version of this game (Sushi Go Party) is also available!

 

 

10) Exploding Kittens

Recommended age: 7+

 

For a card game that’s got more of the toothy meanness of a typical Mario Party or Mario Kart session, try the 2-5 player card game Exploding Kittens. Loved by the whole family whenever someone brings it to our family lunches (pre-COVID), this is a game where you are, quite simply, just trying not to explode. Every turn, you must draw the top card of the deck. If it’s an exploding kitten, you explode and you are out of the game. However, certain card abilities will let you peek at the top few cards of the deck, shuffle the deck, skip your turn, even specifically place where you want the exploding kitten to go. Though it’s a bit of a mean game, it’s no meaner than shooting a green shell backwards in Mario Kart, so if your kids love that, they’ll love Exploding Kittens.

 

 

Buying Guide

In summary, here’s a quick list of the games we covered, sorted by recommended ages:

4+: Monsieur Carrousel

7+: Exploding Kittens

8+: Klask, Takenoko, Kingdomino, Princess Jing, My Little Scythe, Sushi Go

10+: Minecraft: Builders & Biomes

13+: Dominion

Please remember though that these ages are just recommendations! If you think your 5-year-old would love Sushi Go, by all means, go right ahead! (I myself first played Dominion at the age of 10.)

 

 

And there we have it! Our top picks for the best board games to gift to your kids/nieces/nephews/cousins! What do you think? Did we miss any of your childhood favourites? Let us know in the comments below!

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