When I was a kid my brothers and I received a new board game each Christmas that we played hours on end. It was usually the best gift we received because it forced us to bond by spending time with one another. In this post I’ll review the board games that are most popular for this year. Only a few of these were actually released in 2011, but it usually takes a couple of years for most board games to get on the bestseller’s list.
Tip for Buying Board Games Online: I recommend that you purchase your board games on Amazon. Individual retailer sites and stores usually set a premium. Amazon is great because it forces all of the retailers, including Amazon, to compete with each other and you can usually get the cheapest price.
Top 10 List of the Best Rated Board Games for Kids Christmas 2011
1. Rory’s Story Cubes – Encourages Creativity
This game is perfect for encouraging artistic expression in young children. The rules are simple. Roll the 9 dice and then have your child create a story based off of what the dice say. Either arrange the dice in a predetermined order and make them use their problem solving skills or have them pick which ones they want to use at which time. It’s recommended for kids ages 8-12 but my 4 year old girl and 6 year old boy love using them as well. You can also play a game where you make it a short story or take it out as long as you want. My son liked one of them he made up so much that he’s written down on paper.
Overall this is a great game at a great price – under $10. See Rory’s Story Cubes on Amazon or hover over the link for today’s price.
2. Hedbanz Game – Best New Family Party Game
Hedbanz has really caught on since it’s release in late 2010. It’s recommended for ages 8-12 but my wife and I enjoy playing this with our family, friends, and it’s even a success at parties. One of the reason’s is that it’s super simple to understand. Simply place one of the headbands on your head, draw a card, and then you try to figure out what’s on your head by asking other players questions. You start out with coins chips and every time you guess what’s on your head you get rid of one. The first one to get rid of their chips wins.
In summary, there’s a reason that this game is #2 on the bestseller’s list this year – it’s a really fun family game. If I had one complaint it’d be that it’s sometimes difficult to come up with the questions or answer them as another player but after you’ve played it a couple times this becomes easier. See Hedbanz on Amazon.
3. Perplexus Maze Game
I wish they had had this game in the Doctor’s office when I was a kid rather than those boring ones that you just move along the track. This maze game is fun because you can take several ways to your destination by flip twisting and shifting your way through it. It doesn’t get old because of the 100 challenging barriers that that PlaSmart added to it. It has small parts (a marble) so I wouldn’t really recommend it for children under 3.
This is a great game which helps them to improve their motor skills and hand eye coordination. It’s a hit with our six year old boy and I find myself playing it all too often as well! See more about and read customer reviews for the Perplexus Maze Game.
4. Qwirkle – Encourages Critical Thinking and Math Skills
Qwirkle received the parents “gold” award and although it was released a few years ago is still hanging in on the top 5 bestsellers list for board games. You start by drawing 6 different pieces each and then trying to match them up by color and shape. You get a point for each color and shape before you and like Scrabble you can get multiple points by adding a piece that fits to both a row and a column. Additional points can be scored by making a “Qwirkle” which is made by having 6 of the same shape or color.
Overall this is a great game for kids and adults. It’s been perfect for logical reasoning skills with our kids and quick math/addition skills. This is why Mensa named it their “Mind Game Award Winner”. You can get it new at Amazon for under $15. See Qwirkle on Amazon.
5. Spot It – An All-Around Fun Board Game
Spot it is a great new game that takes matching, a relatively simple concept, and makes it into a competitive madhouse! The game comes with 55 cards and each card comes with 8 images with only 1 matching. Whoever shouts out the symbol first wins. There are four different variations of how you can play the game; The Tower, The Well, Poison Gift, and Hot Potatoes so it never really gets boring.
Overall this is another really fun game for families. It’s small enough that we can take it on trips with us and play it in the car and it doesn’t get old fast. See Spot It on Amazon.
6. Richard Scarry Busy Town
8. Blokus Classics Game
9. Monopoly Junior Edition
10. MindWare Imaginets