Engaged Family Gaming Holiday Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

Board games are such a great way to bring people together, and make wonderful gifts. The board game industry just keeps putting out amazing games. We have gone through many of the new games, and curated a list of games that have caught our attention, plus fit a wide range of ages, styles, and experience. Not to mention some themes that will grab your attention. We created a list with something for every member of the family in mind, plus gaming accessories that can be gifts alone or paired with a game.

Games for the Whole Family

These games are easy to learn and can be enjoyed by a wide range of players. We chose games are great for multi age game play as well, family members with a range of gaming experience. Plus we have included themes in a range of interests. Most importantly we chose games that would be fun to bring the family around the table and play.


What can be cuter than herding little dragons? In Dragonkeepers you use the cards to create your “magic book”. This magic book tells you how many dragons as well as what kind you can take into your protection. On your turn you can manipulate the magic book, also known as playing a card. Throughout the game, you are trying to herd dragons, collect eggs, and amulet pieces.’

Dragonkeepers was the 2023 Toy Fair Game of the Show for the EFG team!

Qwirkle Color Blind Friendly

The well loved tile laying strategy game Qwirkle has come out with a new version that is color blind friendly. The game play has remained unchanged, but the tiles have some details added to mitigate for color blindness. First the colors of the tiles have been changed to provide better contrast. In addition to the contrast, there is a symbol in the center of each shape to indicate the different colors.

We have found that having features in games that mitigate the colors, such as unique shapes is helpful for anyone when playing where the lighting is less than optimal. My family often plays games at our camper and the light has a yellow tint, which can distort how colors look and make telling the different colors apart challenging. With the shape indicating color it removes some of that challenge.

Four Corners

In Four Corners, stunning artwork is paired with a strategic tile laying game with two different designs. You can choose the Galaxy with a space motif or Kaleidoscope with the colorful patters found inside its namesake. Calliope Games are the first publisher I have see used a tray to keep tiles in place during play. This was debuted by Calliope in Tsuro Phoenix Rising. This tray allows players to lift out the tiles and manipulate them without disturbing the tiles around them.

In Four Corners each player is manipulating the tiles to try to reach their own secret goal. This beautiful game has great table presence and with two styles can best match the interest of the giftee.

800 Pound Gorilla

Silly games are a perennial favorite for families. In 800 Pound Gorilla, players use a spinner to earn points either by being the first to grab a coconut or banana. The other way is to correctly guess the weight of the gorilla. In this fast paced ridiculous game, there are silly actions and utterances, along with the gorilla guessing. 

Small Box Games ( Perfect for a small container)

Around holiday time there are times where you need a small item. Whether it is a grab bag or a small container needing to be filled. Here are a few new games that will fit!

That’s Not a Hat

In the small box game, That’s Not a Hat, the deck is a series of picture card which are “gifts”. The gameplay is very simple. First players reveal a gift (card) and then flip it over. Then the cards shift based on the arrows. After the shift players need to remember what the cards are or bluff! How good is your memory or will you be able to bluff without being caught?

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza – 8-bit Edition!

The rules are in the name. For the game series Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza players are laying down cards as they say each word in the name. If the word spoken and the card match, there is a race to be the first to slap the pile. There are also special cards which require a specific silly action. In the 8 bit edition there are three new cards: fireball, beep boop, and barrel, each with their own silly action. The 8 bit game is great for fans of video games with the 8 bit style as well as those who hold nostalgia for the old 8 bit games.

For any soccer fans on your shopping list there is also Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza – 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Special Edition

Buy Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza Fifa 23 here on Amazon.

Games For the Experienced Gamer

Some of us have that gamer in our lives, or are that gamer, that loves more complex games . These are new games that will be a good fit for those who like more complexity and components to their games.

Horrified: Greek Monsters

Take on the famous monsters from Greek mythology in Horrified Greek Monsters.  This takes the well known game Horrified, where players fight classic monsters, and challenges the players to work together to save the Isle of Elysium. The monsters include: Minotaur, Cerberus, Chimera, Medusa, Basilisk, and Siren. They all have unique abilities and challenges so different combinations will change the game each time you play, and allow you to scale the difficulty. An additional lair mechanic has been added to this game, and you discover the lair of the monster before defeating them.

Casting Shadows

Battle your opponents with some adorable characters. In an enchanted world your battle takes place and you collect shadow fragments. Once you collect enough shadow fragments your character transforms into their shadow form. In this form you have additional powers. 

Casting Shadows originally was on Kickstarter, and has been a huge hit in our house. The artwork is absolutely wonderful, and what we have come to expect from Teeturtle and Unstable Games. Plus we find the battling mechanic easy to use, as we try and take each other out.

There is also a player board that is a good additional gift item. You can buy it here on Amazon.


  • Age: 10+
  • Players: 1-5
  • Playtime: 60 minutes
  • Gameplay: Worker Placement, Hand Management, Set Collection
  • Publisher: Lucky Duck Games, Cardboard Alchemy
  • Buy Flamecraft here on Amazon

Take on the role of a Flamekeeper to place artisan dragons in the ideal shop location to optimize their skills and enchant the town. This beautiful game was originally a Kickstarter, and hit the gaming world by storm once it fulfilled. The artwork is adorable and the fantasy world these dragons live in is so engaging. By incorporating a few different gaming mechanics it makes it appealing for gamers who enjoy a bit more complexity, but remains easy to learn.

Our Favorite Themes

We all have favorite themes whether they are books, movies, shows, or other games. There is something about playing a game within your favorite world or with a beloved character. There have been a several games released in the past year that tap into a favorite topic.

Lord of the Rings Adventure Book

  • Age: 10+
  • Players 1-4
  • Playtime: 20 Minutes per Chapter
  • Gameplay: Cooperative, Strategy
  • Publisher: Ravensburger
  • Buy here on Amazon

Any fan of The Lord Of The Rings will enjoy playing through the different significant moments of the trilogy. The game plays over eight chapters, each being a critical plot point of the story. Through these challenges players collect story cards to complete challenges and try to advance to the next chapter. There is also a Corruption Track, so you need to keep an eye on the influence of the One Ring you are transporting. 

With the chapter format you can fit a session easily in an evening or gaming session with each chapter taking approximately 20 minutes. The adventure book guides you through each section with a map and beautiful art and miniatures. 

Villainous: Introduction to Evil

  • Ages: 10+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Playing Time: 20 minutes per player (40-80 minutes)
  • Gameplay: Variable Player Powers, Strategy
  • Publisher: Ravensburger
  • Buy here at Target:

The Villainous Series from Ravensburger has been a huge hit. In this Target exclusive, Ravensburger took the original Villainous game and streamlined it in a few ways. They only have four villains in this version, versus six in the original game. The villains included in this game are; Maleficent, Captain Hook, Ursula, or Prince John. The game is  asymmetric with each villain having different goals. The gameplay as well as the instructions have been streamlined. Plus videos have been created to make learning the game and getting started even easier. 

While the game has been updated, players can still take villains from other games and play up to four players. 

Scum and Villainy

  • Ages: 10+
  • Players: 2-3
  • Playing Time: 20 minutes per player (40-80 minutes)
  • Gameplay: Variable Player Powers, Strategy
  • Publisher: Ravensburger
  • Buy here on Amazon

In the first expansion to the Star Wars Villainous universe, Scum and Villainy adds a few more key villains for players to choose from. This can be a stand alone game, or the villains can be mixed with Star Wars Villainous. 

Buy Star War Villainous here on Amazon.

In Scum and Villainy, you can play as  Boba Fett, Seventh Sister, or Cad Bane. Just as in all the Villainous games, each villain has their own objective they are working toward to win. So players need to both work on their villain’s objective and try to disrupt the progress of the other villains.

Games for Younger Gamers

There are so many options for games for young children beyond the “classic” games everyone knows. What is great is the newer games tend to be more fun for the grown-ups playing with the kids. These are some of the newest games for kids age 7 and younger. The games below are organized from youngest to oldest.

Happy Marshmallow

Begin building skills with your toddler that will serve them in playing games and turn taking. Happy Marshmallow is an adorable two player game where the skills of turn taking and matching are reinforced as they pretend to cook marshmallows over a campfire. On their turn a player draws a card and places the matching marshmallow on their stick. The game is over and both players win when both sticks are filled.

Pete the Cat: Terrific Taco Game

  • Age: 3+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Gameplay: Set collection
  • Publisher: Briarpatch (University Games)
  • Buy here on Amazon

In this adorable game featuring Pete the Cat, players are helping Pete fill taco orders. Players are given three order cards. On their turn, players flip over ingredient cards (which stay face up) to try and find the ones they need to fulfill their orders. Watch out for the grumpy frog, if he is revealed all face up cards and flipped back face down. 

This game supports young games with their counting, matching, turn taking, and visual discrimination skills.

Exit Kids: Jungle of Riddles

  • Age: 5+
  • Players: 1-4
  • Playtime: 20 Minutes
  • Gameplay: Cooperative
  • Publisher  Kosmos
  • Buy here on Amazon

In the jungle you have found nine treasure chests, can you solve the puzzles to open all of them? The popular Exit Games now have a version for kids. Unlike the standard Exit games these games are replayable and none of the components are destroyed. The puzzles are designed without any reading, and the game contains escape room style puzzles and brainteasers.

Stomp the Plank

  • Age: 5+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Playtime: 15 Minutes
  • Gameplay: Push Your Luck, player elimination
  • Publisher: Ravensburger
  • Buy here on Amazon

Elephant pirates are on an adventure, and want the treasure. The elephants are trying to get treasure from Captain Giraffe. Players can draw as many treasure cards as they wish, but for each repeated card they draw their elephant moves forward on the plank. Who will be the last one remaining on the pirate ship?

Beat the 8 Ball

  • Age: 6+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Gameplay: Party, Dexterity
  • Publisher: Blue Orange Games
  • Buy here on Amazon

Challenge your patience and test your timing with Beat the 8 Ball. Players need to time when they will release their ball after the 8 Ball is sent into the funnel. If you beat the 8 Ball you score points, but landing after the 8 Ball will cost you. The challenge is to be the one closest without getting behind the 8 ball.

Board Game Accessories

Being a gamer lends itself to collecting. Sometimes it is challenging to find an amazing fit or you want to get something that is not a new game. Perhaps you need a small item for a small holiday container. There are great accessories that can enhance the gaming experience for a huge range of gamers.

Game Storage On the Shelf

Storage of board games can get challenging. Depending on your storage situation you may need to store them on their sides instead of laying flat. One item I have invested in are bands to hold the box closed and minimize the change of pieces falling out. This also helps with traveling with games where the lid is a smidge loose.

Click here for Silicone Rubber Bands on Amazon

Click here for Elastic Box Bands on Amazon

Traveling with Games

There are bags for carrying games, and then there are bags! You can get a more basic tote bag to bring your latest favorite to game night, or go all out on a special game hauling backpack or tote.

Click here for a USA Board Game Bag

Basic tote from Amazon

Game Box Storage

Ticket To Ride storage bins

Bins for game components

Jazz Up Your Game

100 Wooden Meeples

Keeping it Neat On the Table

Foldable bowls

Mini Silicone Pinch Bowls

Dice Trays

Simplifying for the Little Games

Gamewright Card holder

For More Gift Ideas

EFG Essentials: Great Board Games for Kids

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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By Linda Wrobel

Managing Editor: Board Games Mother, Educator, and Board Game Editor.

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