Board game type gift for large family with small children
December 7, 2020 8:15 AM   Subscribe

What is a good board game or similar present to give to a religious, conservative family with six kids? Budget would hopefully less than $50 USD, but willing to go a bit higher for something great.

Please help us find a thank you holiday gift for a family that has helped us during the pandemic.

A neighboring household has been occasionally shopping for us, which has been a help since we are strictly self-quarantining because of high risk factors for COVID-19. It's been particularly helpful when they go to the nearest big city Costco and other places.

We want to thank them, but our usual holiday gift basket would be quickly and frustratingly consumed by a family of eight, and we don't think we can financially scale up the gift basket's gourmet sausages and cheese to feed a group that large. Also not sure that toddlers would get the most out of our normal European charcuterie and cheeses. ;)

This family has six children ranging in age from early teen to newborn, so we would sort of like something that all could enjoy. They are conservative, and religious, but don't shun modern technology.

My guess is that Monopoly would be OK, Axis and Allies probably close to crossing the line, and Cards Against Humanity an absolute no-no, if that helps to give you a spectrum to judge by.

Is there a good board game or similar activity you would recommend for a gift? Particularly one of the games from the board game renaissance of recent years? One that is actually fun to play? (So not Monopoly then, also pretty sure they would already have that one.)

Or another gift? Maybe a game for a park visit or outdoor activities. I had fun with croquet as a kid, but is that too much a relic of the past?

Budget would be around $50, but we could potentially go a bit higher for a gift we were certain would be great. Thank you for any advice or help you can offer.
posted by seasparrow to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (29 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm fond of Battle Sheep. It's cute, easy to understand, startlingly strategic, and genuinely fun. I got a copy "for" my family so we have a fun game when visiting.
posted by Wulfhere at 8:25 AM on December 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

My daughter's family is religious and conservative with six kids in that age range. Here are some things I've done:

Three different puzzles to cover the age ranges: one wooden for toddlers, one with about 300 pieces, one with 1000 pieces.

I've given them the game Ticket to Ride, which they've really liked.

A few different craft kits: Sew Mini kits for the older kids; lacing cards for the younger

Box of snacks from Vitacost: This way I can go for volume. One thing I get them is fun cereals. Cereal for that big a family is very expensive.
posted by FencingGal at 8:25 AM on December 7, 2020 [6 favorites]

What's the age range of the kids, and would they want to have everyone playing simultaneously (so 8 players)?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:35 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seconding puzzles and Ticket to Ride. Also, Double Ditto is officially recommended for ages 10+ but in my experience can easily be played with younger kids if they're teamed up with an older player. It's a little like Scattergories and involves coming up with two answers in a category prompt, but with the twist that you're trying to get the same answers as another player. It has high re-playability, expands easily for very large groups (doesn't require all gathering around the same table), and is also the kind of game that leaves it up to the players to decide what kind of content is appropriate.
posted by northernish at 8:35 AM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: The game Forbidden Island is cooperative play, so a little kid can be a character, even if they mostly don't get it, because other people can support them in their moves.

I might get two games, one for little kids and one for older? Richard Scarry's Busytown Eye Found It game is excellent for toddlers, and still pretty fun for the older folks playing with them.

Neither of these games accommodates 8 players, but they're both playable by a broad subset of your target audience.
posted by gideonfrog at 8:36 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I specialize in board games for families! This is my question!

Board games are great, and large gatherings are awesome. One tricky thing with families is bridging the gap between the young kids having fun, and the older ones not getting bored by kids games. Another issue is if the games are meant to be played as a family, or just the kids within themselves. Just things to keep in mind!

Here are my recommendations:

One Night Ultimate Werewolf - 4-16 players. this cheap game uses an app to play - and it's just amazing. Fast, simple, good for every age, it keeps giving and giving. Fun for every age all the time, short, sweet, easy, durable components.

Camel Up - 2-8 players - it's an odd game, but surprisingly exciting for those above ~7 or so. Every time that random dice is revealed, excitement happens with groans, moans, and fun.

Outburst - 3-100 players - is the best "trivia" game out there. Kids like yelling answers. It's a really fun one, buy the most recent version!

Wavelength 4-20 players - is a newer game where you try to communicate with a clue. It's a great party game because it has an insanely simple setup (it uses the box) and has a big ol' dial to make guesses with.

Telestrations 4-12 players - is always a riot - get the 12 player party pack. It's like telephone meets pictionary, and it's a great fun activity for anyone who can read and write with base level effectiveness.

Ticket to ride, King of Tokyo, Catan, Love letter, Sushi Go Party are all on my top list too, if none of the above are perfect fits for what you are looking for.
posted by bbqturtle at 8:40 AM on December 7, 2020 [11 favorites]

ranging in age from early teen to newborn

Whoops, missed that part!

Ticket To Ride is good from about 6yo upwards, depending on the kid. The editions with maps of the USA or Europe are good starters.
Forbidden Island/Forbidden Desert/Forbidden Skies (similar gameplay with different themes, pick whichever you prefer/is available) are really good family co-op games but IIRC max out at 4 players at once (although smaller kids are often happy playing as a team with an older person).
Fauna plays up to 8, but may or may not hold their interest depending on how interested in nature/animals they are (the game is about guessing how tall/heavy animals are and where the live).
Patchwork Doodle is a "roll-&-write" version of the really good 2-player game Patchwork, and because it's a R&W there is effectively no limit to the number of players. It's kind of like a cross between a jigsaw puzzle and Tetris.
Kingdomino is good for about 6yo upwards, and younger players can join in just noodling around with their tiles and not really following the rules. 4 players max but the games aren't too long.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:42 AM on December 7, 2020

Second Sushi Go Party too. King of Tokyo is good but players can get knocked out of the game which younger kids may not enjoy (might be wrong about this, I only have the sequel King of New York).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:44 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Probably not what you're looking for, and probably doesn't fit the whole "get the family away from digital screens" aspect that board games appeal to, but a membership to Board Game Arena can be a great gift for board game lovers. Premium membership allows you to have multiple people playing from the same IP, no restriction on what games you can start a table for, etc. At $24 a year it's not too bad if you use it often, and for that price you get a heck of a lot of games, and no set-up or breakdown of games required unlike in RL (and never any missing pieces the dog probably ate), which might actually lead some people to play more often, since you can just plunk down somewhere with a screen and start playing.
posted by mochi_cat at 8:53 AM on December 7, 2020

Dixit! Dixit is one of my favorite games. It's a bit like cards against humanity in the gameplay, in that you select cards to go with a story, but that's where the similarity ends. It's illustration-based, and matching is via creative interpretation and storytelling.

It technically caps at 6 players, but the little ones can pair off with a parent or older sibling, and when the littlest ones are older the kids can all play together.

The card art is beautiful and PG. I think there's one expansion pack where the art is a little darker, but think like a made for TV ABC Family Halloween movie level of scary, no gore or occult.

It's one of those games that can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. Really great for encouraging creative thought. Can't speak about it highly enough honestly.
posted by phunniemee at 8:58 AM on December 7, 2020 [6 favorites]

Ticket to Ride and Telestrations are very good answers here.

Signed, board game lover and former child in a large conservative religious family.
posted by charmedimsure at 9:03 AM on December 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

Tabletop Family has a ton of great suggestions, broken out by preschoolers, kids, family, adult etc. They review each game quite thoroughly!
posted by Ftsqg at 9:20 AM on December 7, 2020

Tenzies is not a board game but is dice in different colors. You announce the goal at the start of the roll and then everyone rolls as fast as possible. A simple goal: all sixes. You roll, any sixes get put to the side and you keep rolling until you get them all and shout “Tenzies!” There are dice sets of various sizes. Just make sure if you get multiples that they are all different colors. You can add Tenzies cards for more fun. Those give you prompts for rolling. Some are simple, some harder. Harder: “all dice add up to 54!”
posted by amanda at 10:12 AM on December 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

I came in to say Dixit also. Dixit Odyssey goes up to 12 players. Also a second vote for Sushi Go Party. We also really love Decrypto.
posted by cmm at 10:30 AM on December 7, 2020

All great suggestions. I am friends with a religious, fairly conservative family of six, who help others by shopping at Costco, and range from teen to .... kindergartener. I swear as I was reading I was sure that you were talking about my friend!

The entire family likes Ticket to Ride, and if you are worried that they might already have there are other versions/expansions you could consider. And they really love Tenzies, there has even been talk of us playing together over video chat!

We personally like Sushi Go and I feel like it covers a fairly wide age range. They likely already have Uno, but do they have Uno Attack? I swear, it seems silly since we already own regular Uno, but it has been the game we have taken on trips and I can drag even teens and adults into playing.

Good luck - no matter what you do I know it will be appreciated.
posted by dawg-proud at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would recommend the Busytown Mysteries Eye Found It game, it skews younger but it's essentially co-op and everyone can play. You don't need any knowledge of the Busytown Mysteries show. There's also a Disney Eye Found It but the Busytown one is a better game.
posted by sleeping bear at 11:42 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Some good suggestions above. Apples to Apples is the PG version (and predecessor) of Cards Against Humanity, and Codenames is safe for all (except for Codenames: After Dark, which is vaguely suggestive without being R-rated, as best I know). Both these games are aimed at maybe ten and up, but there are kids’ versions of both.

Another game I like a lot (and which again has a kids’ version) is Geek Out, especially the Pop Culture version. It’s a bit like Trivial Pursuit in its appearance, with a card with trivia questions in different categories. Each question includes a number, so it might be something like, “Name four cartoon dogs,” or “Name three TV shows that take place in a hospital.” The player who drew the card has first bid, and declares that yes, they can name four cartoon dogs or whatever. The player to their left can bid to name five, then someone else might declare they can name six, or people can drop out of the bidding if they so choose. Eventually someone is the last bidder and is on the hook to name nine cartoon dogs. Name them and get a point; miss out and lose two points.

The genius of the game is that everyone can use their own knowledge. I have played it in a family gathering with three generations — for the teenagers of the group, the TV shows set in a hospital are Grey’s Anatomy and House; for their grandparents it might be Marcus Welby or The Nurses.

Also there are plenty of engaging abstract games — Splendor, Azul, Tsuro. I’d add the proviso that the first two accommodate four players only but the last one up to eight.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:01 PM on December 7, 2020

Zingo, Apples to Apples, Hedbanz, Uno. They're all mainstream games and you should be able to find them at a Target or similar, if you don't have a game store in your town. Uno comes in all kinds of themes these days.

(I think some of the people responding here haven't noticed how young the kids are in the family.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:49 PM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Good recs above. You might lean away from Camel Up, as it is pretty literally a betting game (camels, rather than horses, and you have some ability to affect the outcome, but that's the framing and basic mechanism), and that may not be acceptable for a religious family.
posted by DebetEsse at 1:32 PM on December 7, 2020

My 6 y.o. son just got Super Mario Jenga as an early Christmas present and we've had fun with it. It isn't the type of game that you'll play for hours at a time but he'll want to play it and it's fun enough that the rest of us will play for a few rounds.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:02 PM on December 7, 2020

I heartily endorse Apples to Apples for multi-generational groups. Since putting down cards and choosing the winner of each round is so subjective, there's room for everyone to play it their own way without messing up the game for everyone else (and in fact, this is part of the fun.) You can be literal-minded, you can be weird, you can be a comedian, you can try to strategize in a manner of speaking, you can be only half-paying attention while holding a newborn.
posted by desuetude at 2:04 PM on December 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Encore is a great game for a mixed-age group! It doesn't have a million pieces, so not a big risk with small children, and is played on teams. The game-play is simple and easy to follow - teams take turns rolling the dice, and drawing a card from the deck. They are assigned the word on the card that matches the color circle they landed on. The two teams take turns singing at least six words (must include the target word) from a song until one team is stumped. This game is great for families, and it's fairly inexpensive.
posted by panther of the pyrenees at 2:35 PM on December 7, 2020

Lots of great suggestions, I need to add Wits and Wagers: Family Edition to the list.
posted by meinvt at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Related to puzzles, what about a portable puzzle table? This big one is a bit over your budget, but there are likely some smaller versions available. This way they can have a days-long puzzle going without having to take up space at their kitchen or dining room table.
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2020

Feed the Kitty
Any of the “Spot It” games

PlayMonster SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception (It’s like advanced Spot It, there are no monsters)
posted by tilde at 3:26 PM on December 7, 2020

Ooh, I always like to recommend Cranium for these kinds of situations. You need an even number of people to play (at least 4) so you can make two teams. It's totally family friendly. It's also great because it calls on a lot of different skills--there's drawing, sculpting, charades, trivia and so forth--so even if you're not good at one aspect there's probably something where you excel.
posted by zeusianfog at 4:54 PM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

We are big fans of the Peaceable Kingdom cooperative games for our preschooler.
posted by notjustthefish at 5:29 PM on December 7, 2020

Sloth in a hurry!

It’s an improv game and people of all ages love it. The little kids lose their minds over watching the older people be a little silly and it’s good clean fun.

It says 2-4 players but we’ve done it with a lot more than that and it’s still fun. We don’t usually even bother with the scoring system.
posted by missjenny at 5:35 PM on December 10, 2020

Response by poster: Thank you all so much, I loved all of these answers, and this will be a good resource to come back and check whenever we buy a boardgame for gifting.

As to what we actually purchased, we went with Battlesheep, and Busytown Eye Mysteries, which seemed to be great for the very young, while also nostalgic to me as a Gen-X'er with fond memories of Richard Scary in my own long ago youth.

But we would have been just as happy with any of your excellent suggestions. Thank you all!
posted by seasparrow at 6:42 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]

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