Giving games and puzzles as Christmas gifts is a time-honored tradition in our family. This is why I’ve found the best new games for 2021 that my kids and yours will love to play.
From card games to board games and dice games, you’ll also discover the best games from years past that you don’t want to miss. Because you don’t have to be new to be good.
The Best Games Gifts for Kids and Families 2021
Story Time Chess
Learn to play chess with chess pieces that have unique stories and 30 mini-games, all of which teach children the rules of the chess game.
Ladybug Memory Game
SO adorable — and great for fine motor skills, memory, and visual discrimination. Lift the chunky ladybugs two at a time to find a match!
Hape Robot Factor Domino
This cool STEM toy from Hape lets kids build with ball tracks, dominos, and catapults plus a tunnel, car, spinning arm, and more!
Pokémon Trading Card Game Battle Academy
Love Pokemon? This game at the Battle Academy will teach you everything Pokemon. It gives you 60 cards, a board, damage counters, and a coin plus codes for online play.
Abandon All Artichokes
From our friends at Gamewright, this new veggie power game’s goal is to ditch all the artichoke cards (to the compost) in favor of other vegetables.
Hone your strategy and math skills and learn basic economics, all in a fun card game for 2 to 4 players. You’ll buy and sell magical potion-making ingredients to make sets then make the potions and trade them to earn points! Plus, aren’t the potion vials fantastic?
A building strategy game from Gamewright where players earn money to build their own cities with buildings and people — and the happiest city wins.
Peaceable Kingdom Fire Truck Pups Floor Puzzle
Preschoolers love fitting together these sturdy, large shapes into a large floor puzzle.
Ravensburger Friends of a Feather
A quick game for two to five players and perfect for preschoolers!
You’ll love this beautiful two-sided Sudoku wooden game board with smooth, wooden titles of numbers and shapes! Use the booklet with 60 challenges to get children started playing. The booklet gives starting positions for the tiles in three levels of difficulty and on two game boards, 4×4 and 6×6. Not only is this a FUN game for one player, but it’s also great for critical thinking, pattern recognition, problem-solving, visual/spatial thinking, and deductive reasoning. (Win-win!)
MudPuppy Double-Sided Puzzle 100 Pieces
Get a 2 for 1 puzzle with colorful animals on one side and black and white animals on the other. So cute, right!?
MudPuppy Map of the World 78 Piece Puzzle
Learn world geography with this beautiful world puzzle!
Brain Waves: The Astute Goose
Put your thinking caps on for this unique award-winning memory game which asks players to recall what the burglary suspect was wearing, the color, and the animal he is holding. An added bonus to the thinking fun is that it can be for 1 to 5 players!
Brain Games: The Wise Whale
Memorize the sea creatures, then try to match the creature or color without looking! Another fantastic thinking game from Kosmos for 1 to 4 players.
Think fast and spot identical pairs. Grab the match. But don’t get tricked by similar patterns– because they can get stolen if a third match appears.
Hi Lo Flip
Easy to learn and fun to play with the entire family– this is a numbers card game with visual discrimination and probability elements.
Play up to five different games, have fun, and practice cognitive flexibility, speed, working memory, and more. Created by the game Tenzi, Pairzi is a fast-paced card and dice game with cute critter cards.
Another game from the makers of Tenzi! This game asks players to study the picture on the card and build it. LOVE it!
I love this game — it reminds me of Tetris and it works for 1 to 4 players. Fit your shapes into the puzzle, win gems, and the player with the most gems wins the game. Geometry fun!
More Essential Games to Give as Gifts
Roll and Play
ages 18 months+
Honestly, you don’t find many games for this age group and this is the best interactive card game for toddlers and preschoolers I’ve seen. Roll the big colored dice, pick the matching color card, and do the action. There are 48 game cards in six age-appropriate categories.
Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game!
Preschoolers love to play this award-winning game. Parents and teachers love it because it builds color recognition and counting practice as well as fine motor practice. Use the squirrel Squeezers to put the colored acorns into their logs. The first person to fill up their log wins. (Full review here.) A best game for kids under five.
An award-winning cooperative game that includes many types of play: dramatic, communication, creative, interpretive, competitive, teamwork. It’s FUN and silly!
ThinkFun Heads Talk Tails Walk
Can you walk like a chicken while meowing like a cat? Match bodies with heads! But if you make a mismatch, everyone makes the mismatched animal’s sounds and motions! Hilarious! This is one of the best games I’ve seen for preschoolers.
Two players, deductive reasoning, communication, and fun! Try to guess your opponent’s mystery player. This game will be a favorite choice for YEARS to come.
Yeti in My Spaghetti
What a blast! Start out with the noodles across the top of the bowl with the Yeti on top. Players take turns removing the noodles one-by-one without letting Yeti fall. If it falls, you’re out.
Have you played this addictive card game yet? It’s a blast, easy to play, and just right for your purse or suitcase. Your goal is to match any of the images on your cards to the card in the middle. The winner is the player who is out of cards first.
Race to recreate the pattern on the challenge card by bouncing balls into the grid. The first color to complete the pattern wins the card. Earn 3 cards to win the game. This game is one of the best family games for kids and parents to do together!! Review here.
A fun avocado twist on the game of Snap for kids! It’s simple to learn and quick to play. Switch and smash quickly to win this fun game.
Each player chooses the funniest caption from his or her cards. The judge picks the winner and that winner keeps the funny card. Take turns being the judge. HILARIOUS!
Tenzi is a SUPER FUN yet simple dice game that works for almost all ages (except the ages 0 – 3) which is why it’s one of our top recommendations (aka. the BEST) family night game. Be the first player to get all ten of your dice to show the same number. Full review here.
Help the Sleeping Queens wake up by waking them up with the Kings and be the first player to reach 50 points. We ADORE this game and play it all the time. (My 14-year-old has loved this game since she was little!) It’s easy to play, fun, and great for family game night.
Blue Orange Maki Stack
Aren’t these wooden sushi pieces the best? Pick a card and race to build a matching stack using the sushi, soy sauce, and mat. My daughter and I often play this before bedtime and love it. We like that it takes about 10 – 15 minutes and makes us laugh. A great gift option for 2019. (Full review here.)
Scrambled States of America
This card game gets regular play in our house. Not only is it fun to play but it gets kids more familiar with the United States.
RushHour Traffic Jam Logic Game
Not only does this game provide hours of strategy and problem solving but it’s FUN to accomplish these tricky puzzles. We are big fans.
We laugh so much during this game as we totally butcher words trying to figure them out. In fact, my daughter has started writing down the funny words we invent on accident.) To win a card, you correctly read the word around one of the colored circles. The player with the most cards wins.
This is my personal favorite family strategy game — mostly because occasionally I can beat my kids. They love this game, too — and let me win sometimes. Isn’t that nice?
My kids (and husband) like this game so much. To play, turn over one of the challenge cards. Try to match the formula in one of your 3 test tubes using the 6 colored balls. Move the molecule balls from tube to tube –but don’t touch! Read my full review here.
Qwixx – A Fast Family Dice Game
ages 8 +
Qwixx is a simple but fun strategy dice game where the more numbers you cross off, the more points you score. With no downtime between turns, you’ll have a chance to gain from each and every roll.
Playoff Soccer Table
This quality built, action-packed foosball table is constructed from CARB certified MDF. Soccer balls glide easily across the smooth, life-like green grass playing surface. The table features dual manual slide scoring systems, goal boxes with built-in automatic end ball return, 1/2 in. chrome-plated tubular steel rods, ergonomic handles, and ABS molded durable players. Also see: Compact foosball table.
The Settlers of Catan
Players must roll and trade for resources to build roads, settlements, and cities for points. The first to ten points wins. It’s easy to learn but the strategy requires some practice –it’s a very popular game for families and friend groups!
If you like cooperative card games, give this 2019 choice a whirl. You’ll be working on a team to complete a series of goals matching colors or numbers during a timed session of play.
Word clues, spies, an assassin, and some deductive reasoning, this game is the total package — and one of the best games to play with a larger group of people.
Want more awesome gift ideas?