It’s that time of year. Jingle bells are jingling. Christmas lights are twinkling. Carols are blaring from every speaker imaginable. And you’re trying to figure out what to get you cousin for Christmas, while avoiding the family you’ve spent WAY too much time with over the past few weeks.

Luckily, your friends at Win Condition Games are here to make your life a bunch easier. We’ve put together a selection of five, family-friendly games that will help you check all the names off your shopping list AND give you a way to have spending all that additional time with uncle Charlie.

Buying gifts for non-gamers is always a bit of a challenge. You might geek out over a marathon session of Lords of Waterdeep or Dead of Winter, but it’s going to be tough to get the whole family excited for that. When gifting for non-gamers, keep the following four points in mind:

  1. The game should be easy to set up and teach. If it takes an hour to allocating all the different pieces, and then another hour to read through the rules tome, you’ll never get people away from the 6th showing of A Christmas Story.
  2. The game should be quick to play. If it is fun, people will want to play again and again. If it is long, people will give up halfway through.
  3. It should have an accessible theme. You might be way into the Tolkien or Lovecraft mythologies, but don’t expect your second cousin to be.
  4. It should be cheap. Do double duty by giving these games as gifts, but don’t stress out about dropping $80 on a hard-core strategy game. A fun, inexpensive, lightweight game will probably give your non-gaming family more joy over the year than the most expensive euro game.

With that in mind, onto the list:

#1 Love Letter – Perfect for Meeting Your Girlfriend’s Parents

Love Letter is practically the perfect party game for small gatherings (3-6 people). It’s a microgame, with only 16 cards. The rules are simple. Each turn you draw one card, and play one card. The goal is to end the game with the highest numbered card. While each game only takes a few minutes, we guarantee you’re family will wwant to play for hours.

For under $15, you can give Love Letter to everyone on your list. There are dozens of themes and variations to choose from including Batman, Adventure Time, Munchkin, and Archer.


#2 Forbidden Island – For When Your Parents Just Want All the Kids to Get Along

There comes a time every holiday season where you are just tired of fighting your way through the crowds – especially those in your own house. It’s times like this when we want to bust out a cooperative game. Some people default to Pandemic, but I think a better option for non-gamers is Forbidden Island.

In Forbidden Island, each player takes on the role of an explorer trying to find a hidden treasure. Your team crash lands on an island made up of a random assortment of tiles. Each turn, you travel to a new location and try to uncover clues that will lead you to the treasure. But be careful, the island is flooding. Every turn, more and more of the board gets swallowed up by the ocean. Unless you can get the treasure and escape, your entire party is doomed.


#3 Pixel Tactics – For the Geeky Cousin You See Once a Year

Sometimes you don’t need a game for the whole family. You just need something that you and that one cousin can use to escape the insanity of the dreaded family gathering. Enter Pixel Tactics, the 8-bit tactical combat game that drops you right back into the old-school, turn-based RPGs like Final Fantasy and Shining Force.

Each turn, players play character cards to different spots on the battlefield. Each card has different abilities depending on where it is placed, if it used as a leader, or if it is used for a spell-like effect. Although a deck only has 25 cards, the vast number of options means you’ll never play the same game twice.

You can pick up any of the Pixel Tactics expansions for about $15. Each is a stand-alone game for two players. Or you can mix and match to form your perfect pixel team.


#4 Little Red Riding Hood – For Your Younger Nieces and Nephews

If your family is anything like mine, there’s a good chance you could end up in the role of babysitter while your siblings run out to the mall, or are taking a nap after the holiday feast. You could spend the entire afternoon watching another episode of a Disney Channel original, or you could spend the afternoon gaming.

This little game is divided into two games modes. In the first, players work together to reach Grandmother’s house before the Big Bad Wolf can. In the second, one player takes on the role of the Wolf, while the rest try to help Little Red arrive before the Wolf. While the setting is great for children, the game play is both accessible and interesting enough for adults.

Little Red Riding Hood is the fifth Tales and Games game from IELLO, and all of them make great stocking stuffers. We recommend Three Little Pigs and The Tortoise and The Hare for even more family fun.

#5 Munchkin Apocalypse – Perfect as a Gateway Game

Munchkin is a pretty well-known quantity within gaming circles. And love it or hate it, it makes a great way to introduce games to non-gamers. With simple mechanics (learn to count), off-beat humor, and a serious competitive streak, Munchkin is a great way to give your family their first taste of real table top gaming.

We recommend Munchkin Apocalypse as the best version to play with your family. The theme is accessible enough. People are much more likely to come to the table with experiences involving dystopian or apocalyptic theme than they would for traditional fantasy tropes. But even more important, Munchkin Apocalypse is mechanically better suited for new groups of players. Unlike other Munchkin variation, which often bog down in the late game, the Seal mechanic in Apocalypse adds a new end-game scenario.

If Munchkin Apocalypse isn’t the right flavor for your family, don’t worry. There are plenty of other great themes like Zombies, Super Heroes, the Wizard of Oz, Sci Fi, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and even Marvel Comics.

Win Condition Games in Kennesaw is here to help you this holiday season. Not only do we have events firing nearly every day in December (so you can avoid you family), we’ve got your holiday gifting needs covered too. So stop on by and let our expert staff help you find the perfect games for your family this Christmas.