The Best Family Games Gift Guide for Teens and Tweens

One of our holiday traditions, especially as the kids have gotten older, is opening family games on Christmas Eve.

Sometimes these are from us, other times marked from the dog, but we try to find the best, fun games that we can enjoy that evening and on Christmas morning too.  I asked the kids to help me make a list of their favorite games that they would recommend for your holiday shopping, and we compiled a Family Game Gift Guide for Teens and Tweens.

Tabletop Games:
  • Settlers of Catan - Settlers was the very first family tabletop game that Santa brought a few Chrismases ago.  It quickly became a favorite and was definitely our gateway game into needing to buy others.  In this game, players compete to settle the island of Catan, building cities and roads, utilizing resources, and ultimately accruing enough points by growing their settlements to win.

  • Takenoko - After our first Christmas with Settlers, we expanded our collection to Takenoko.  In this game, you compete to cultivate and irrigate land, grow bamboo, and feed the Emperor's panda.  It even comes with a cute little panda piece and we really think you can't go wrong with pandas.

  • Ticket to Ride - This is one that our friends insisted we needed to try.  Players try build railroads across North America (other versions include Europe) and connect their cities to each other in a competition to visit the most places in seven days, loosely based on the concept of Around the World in 80 Days.  

  • Evolution - This was a fun spin on tabletop gaming for us.  Players create their own dinosaur based on card traits and see how long they can keep their species alive--adapting it to the environment, dealing with food scarcity, predators, and climate issues.  

Other Board Games:
  • Pictureka - We received this as a gift from a friend years ago when the kids were younger and we still love it.  It is almost a big "Find the picture" type puzzle.  Players draw cards and look for the items described on them within the time limit.  The winner is the person who collects the most successful cards.

  • Disney Pictopia - This one was a last minute Black Friday grab at a great price a couple of years ago in Washington, but we ended up loving it--identifying characters, props, scenes, etc, from the movies, shows, parks, and more!

  • Jumanji - Did you love the original movie with Robin Williams or the new one with The Rock and Kevin Hart?  Either way, the game is a must have, even though there was a decided lack of real monkeys and elephants.
  • Stratego - This one isn't new.  Ben played this at my aunt and uncle's house and loved it.  My husband remembers playing it as a kid.  We had to buy it.  Use your army to capture your enemy's flag, all while planning battle strategy.

  • Watch Ya' Mouth Throwdown Edition - We received a copy of this game last year in exchange for a blog review (read it here) and the kids thought it was a lot of fun.  My girl had her high school friends over this past Halloween and they all had to play.  Even better, you can run the pieces through the dishwasher!

Card Games:
  • Sushi Go - I kind of wondered about a card game based on a video game, but Sushi Go is super fun.  Pass the cards from player to player, drawing the best cards you can to make the highest point sushi plates.

  • Exploding Kittens - This has been a favorite for both of my kids since we got it.  The base set is great for tweens and teens, just avoid the set marked "not safe for work".  Try to match different cats, blow up your opponents, all while not getting blown up yourself. 

  • Oregon Trail and Oregon Trail Card Game Expansion Pack - Oregon Trail was such a quintessential 80s kid experience and I am so excited to share it with my kids. I couldn't resist adding on the expansion pack, with extra ways to die.

  • Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? card game - Do you remember the video games?  I hoped the card game would keep us as intrigued as the Oregon Trail one did, and it didn't disappoint.  Can you figure out where Carmen is hiding?
We haven't figured out this year's Christmas game yet, but I have some ideas bookmarked.  What are your favorite family games for teens and tweens?