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2019 Chris Loves Julia Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Board Games to play and gift this year!

November 20, 2019  —  Written by Julia 

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It’s time to come clean. Nearly every game that we have played, loved and recommended to you, has first been recommended to us by my brother-in-law, David. They hosts fun game nights where there are COURSES of games. An appetizer to warm you up, an entree that might be a longer, more intense game, and a dessert that’s short and sweet to send you on your way. Basically–it’s the game night you want to get invited to and dream of hosting. And since the holidays are such a great time to gift and play games, we invited David to spill all the latest and greatest with you.
1. Azul: regarded as one of the most beautiful games out there, but don’t fall for the relaxing appearance — the strategy level in this game will have you at the edge of your seat. 1-4 Players. $28
2. Just One: There are three “Oscars of gaming” awards, and this game got the most important one. A simple game that you can learn in five minutes but will have the entire group laughing and cheering for hours. 3-7 Players. $17
3. Sushi Go! Party: Geared toward children, this (impossibly) cute drafting game about making sushi can pack a lot of strategy for adult groups, too! 2-8 Players. $20
4. Klask: Packed with action and challenge that can both be a hit with little kids and also a grown-up tournament. No matter who plays it, Klask is always a blast! 2 Players. $49
5. Wingspan: The other winner of the “Oscars of gaming” in 2019, this beautiful game about bird-enthusiasts will transport you all across America (and beyond) as you collect birds for your reserves. 1-5 Players. $48
6. Codenames Pictures: The sequel to the massive hit, Codenames, has the players looking at pictures instead of words in order to guess the clues. If you thought the original was exciting, just wait! 2-8 Players. $16
7.Camel Up: An unpredictable game of betting on a crazy camel race. The players are not the camels, although they will wish they could be! Ideal for a party where laughter and mayhem are on the menu. 3-8 Players. $30
8. Castles of Mad King Ludwig: The Mad King Ludwig (who existed in real life!) has commanded you to build him a castle. Compete with other architects to create the most unique and glorious. 2-4 Players. $51
9. Ice Cool: Another adorable game for the little ones that won’t make an adult feel dumb while playing it. You can combine it with the sequel (Ice Cool 2) to allow more players in the game. 2-4 Players. $16
10. Patchwork: The ideal date game. Players compete to create their own, unique quilt in this fast but fun game. Ideal for a relaxed time on a cold evening. 2 Players. $23
11. Wits and Wagers Deluxe Edition: This feels more like a game show than a board game. Not only for trivia-savvy people, but also for those who know who the savvy person is! 4-More Players. $40
12. Time’s Up!: Few games are capable of making a table laugh so much, so hard, and so memorably as Time’s Up. Any version of this chaotic party game can (and will) become a festival of jokes that will last forever. 4-18 Players. $26.99
13. Ticket to Ride – Europe:What about taking “Ticket to Ride” to the next level? The new rules and extra challenge that the European map brings make this the ultimate version of the classic game. 2-5 Players. $47
14. The Mind: Placing numbered cards in ascending order is simple. Doing it without saying what number do you have? Not so much! This little game has a big challenge in store for the players. 2-4 Players. $12
15. Parks: Gorgeous, educational, and a profoundly thematic experience. “Parks” will have players become hikers that aspire to visit as many National Parks as they progress on their hikes. 1-5 Players. $49
16. Dixit: An artistic game that requires the use of imagination and storytelling skills, but not-so-obvious ones that the players could easily guess your dreamlike card. 3-6 Players. $26
17. Telestrations (12 Player Party Pack): You’ve probably played this game many times before, but nothing beats the experience of playing it like THIS. A classic party game that never fails. 4-12 Players. $39
Looking for our past favorite games? Check out our favorite games here, here, here, and here!
Recommendations by: David Ahedo, the Founder and CEO at Elements Music Experience, bringing music learning to the XXI century through technology and gaming. As a psychologist, creator of games and gamified content, David has dedicated his career to the “experience” of gaming. With a board game collection that spans over dozens of titles, he loves the level of warmth that face-to-face interaction achieves through the genre. He will recommend the best game for any social situation. David is also a professional musician and educator.

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What do you think?

  1. Wendy Palto says:

    Which are your favorites for adults?

  2. Wendi says:

    Trying to find where you talked about LCR Wild? Just ordered from amazon and would love to play at thanksgiving, but I don’t remember how many quarters to ask people to bring?

    • Chris says:

      We always do 4 $1 bills, but 4 quarters is great as well. Or you can start with as much of whatever you like! At our family reunion we had about 30 people playing, each put in $4, and the game lasted a little over 2 hours.

  3. Heidi says:

    Thank you for this!! We love game nights and haven’t played any of these. I’ll definitely be referencing this guide for games to out on our wishlist, as well as gift ideas for others!

  4. Catherine says:

    My kids love Telestrations! We always end up laughing but are also intentional about making our drawings not too precise. Bad art= more fun!

  5. Lindsey says:

    I bought code names for my parents upon your recommendation last year and it’s been such a hit! We’ve played it so much. Both my family and friends are big into board games- I can’t believe I haven’t heard of almost this entire list. Thanks for the recommendations!

  6. Brittany says:

    Awesome suggestions. We love Azul & have been looking forward to playing Wingspan at some point. Totally loving the Parks recommendation though–might be a good fit for my travel loving parents!

  7. Oscar Valera says:

    Great list!!

  8. Elizabeth says:

    My husband and I love Azul and we play Patchwork on our phones! I will definitely check out some of the other titles in this list. Also shout out to Wingspan- made in my hometown of STL. ????

  9. Julie S says:

    You always seem to have so much fun at your game nights! My husband had fantasies of us playing games together as a family when we got married, but we don’t have people over often and our daughters are 3 and 6… since I am the party pooper who mostly only enjoys word games/clever thinking games for more than 5 minutes, I think we have several more years to go before we can do that as a family :)

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