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11 Games That Deliver Fun for All Ages

Make holiday get-togethers merry with entertainment that reaches across generations

Monopoly
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When it comes to holiday hilarity, pit the generations against each other with playing cards or board games that appeal to a wide range of ages. If you pick the right games, grandparents, parents, grandchildren, cousins and extended family can all laugh and compete together, making memories.

When one or more of her grandchildren comes for a visit, Lois Spatcher, 69,  of Jacksonville, Florida, reaches for Skip-Bo, Sequence or another favorite game. “We play so many games — even some we’ve made up ourselves,” she says. “It’s a wonderful way to spend time together.”

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While family game time has always been popular, interest in board games, in particular, has surged over the last five years, spurred on by the pandemic and prolonged time spent at home, according to Trent Howell, founder of board game review site TheBoardGameFamily.com.

“There are about 5,000 new board games published every year, so demand has just exploded,” says Howell, who has been publishing online game reviews with his wife and four children since 2009.

With so many options on the market, from brand-new releases to classic favorites, the biggest challenge for family game time may simply be choosing what to play. Start by considering the interests of the people who will likely join in.

 “When you’re looking for the ideal game, it’s good to know the tastes of the people you’re playing with. Some people want a game they can learn in 30 seconds, and others enjoy games that involve much more strategy,” says W. Eric Martin, news editor at BoardGameGeek, an online forum for board game fans.

Consider games that appeal to all ages — from young children to older kids, teens and adults — so multiple generations can play together.

“Games offer a way to relate and have fun with my grandkids, as opposed to immediately interrogating them with questions like ‘How’s school?’ ” says Mary Simons, 73, of Philadelphia, whose grandchildren range in age from 11 to 18.

You might be surprised how much fun it can be to watch your grown children and grandkids lose themselves in merriment around a game board. “You can hear the howls of laughter from our house when we play,” Simons says.

Ready to roll the dice or shuffle the deck? Here are a few classic games and new ones sure to bring smiles to your next family get-together.

Games to play with young children

1. Memory

The classic matching game appeals to preschoolers as well as older kids and adults as a way to challenge recall skills. Start with a small grid of just four or five matched pairs for very young children, and then work up to using the full box of matched tiles to truly test your memory. For two or more players. Amazon: $13.99

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 2. Hedbanz

Easy enough for preschoolers but fun even for teens and adults, this game offers a creative spin on Twenty Questions, as each player attempts to figure out what object they’re wearing in their headband by asking yes or no questions, like “Am I a food?” or “Am I an animal?” For two to six players. Target: $10.99

 3. The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game!

This colorful spinning game of chance helps preschoolers learn their colors, early counting skills and how to accept setbacks with grace — such as losing stored acorns to a windstorm. It’s engaging enough to charm even older kids and adults. For two to four players. Walmart: $16.49

Playing with older kids, teens and adults

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4. Scrabble

You could follow traditional rules for the beloved word-building game — or you could adopt anything-goes rules to encourage even the most game-leery teens to play. When Simons plays Scrabble with her grandkids, she lets any letter combo count, so long as it’s Google-able. “It’s hysterical and so much fun,” she says. For two to four players. Amazon: $11.99

For Scrabble purists who don’t want to veer from traditional rules, consider Junior Scrabble for an easier version. Amazon: $16.99

 5. Sequence

In this classic strategy game using cards and poker chips, players attempt to score a five-in-a-row series on the game board before their opponents do. Play with just two people, or up to 12 — with three groups of four players each — making it a great choice for large family gatherings. Walmart: $14.14

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 6. Phase 10

Similar to rummy, Phase 10 requires laying down cards in runs and sets — but in a particular order of over 10 different rounds, or phases. The colorful numbered cards make it easy even for kids as young as 7 to learn, but because the game involves both luck and strategy, it’s entertaining for all ages. For two to six players. Target: $6.49

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 7. Telestrations

A family night with Telestrations — a game for up to 12 players that combines the mixed-up message mayhem of the telephone game with a Pictionary-type drawing component — is a sure recipe for laughter, according to both Simons and Howell, whose families call it one of their go-to games. “You don’t have to be good at drawing, because the more messed up the message gets, the more fun it is,” Howell says. Amazon: $29.99 (original four-to-eight player version), or $39.99 for 12-player version

 8. The Mind

If you’re looking for a unique card game, consider The Mind, suggests Martin. In this cooperative game, players work together to lay down their cards in numeric sequence, from low to high, but — and here’s the catch — they must do so without talking or signaling to one another in any way. For two to four players. Amazon: $12.95

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 9. Uno Flip!

Liven up your classic Uno game with this new version that has dual-sided playing cards. Play follows traditional Uno rules until — surprise! — someone plays a card that requires everyone to flip their hands over and play with the opposite side. For two to 10 players. Walmart: $5.99

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 10. Ticket to Ride

Winner of multiple international game awards, with more than 8 million copies sold, Ticket to Ride is a bona fide hit — and a favorite of both serious board game aficionados and more casual players alike. Participants collect cards to claim railway routes in order to complete journeys from one U.S. train station to another on the playing board. The longer the route, the more points earned. For two to five players. Target: $30

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 11. Monopoly

This classic board game has been a mainstay of American families’ game nights since 1935. If it’s been a while since you passed Go or vied for ownership of Boardwalk or Park Place, it may be time to play again, especially if you have children or grandchildren who will delight in learning the game for the first time. For two to six players. Amazon: $13.99

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