Number Five Top Ten Best Game to Save Christmas – Sushi Go
One of the things that most games on this list have in common is minimal down-time. It’s not fun to wait for your turn unless you get to spend the intervening time thinking and scheming. Sushi Go, and its big brother Sushi Go Party, exemplify the benefits of that. Much like in a Sushi restaurant, everyone is picking from a buffet of options as they pass before them. You’re constantly keeping an eye on the people downstream to see if their menu choices are going to put limits your own in the future. Oh, you want the sashimi Granddad? I’ll die before I let you have anything other than a dumpling, and you know it.
Intuitive gameplay, simple scoring, and cut-throat but cutesy competition mean that Sushi Go is almost always an instant hit that will leave everyone hungry for more. The perfect appetizer for the Christmas dinner that’s heading its way to your guts.
Number Four Top Ten Best Game to Save Christmas – Funemployed
I recommend Funemployed over Cards Against Humanity in every scenario, because in my experience it’s a much safer choice. Not because of its content matter but because of its design. Cards Against Humanity relies on you getting funny cards. Funemployed relies on you being a funny person. In a family setting, where you all have decades of experience from which to draw, there are usually rich comedy veins ripe for exploitation in a game like this.
For those that haven’t encountered Funemployed, you take control of the world’s worst CV and then use it try and explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the world’s weirdest jobs in an interview conducted by the world’s least competent recruiter. It’s frequently hilarious, and almost infinitely malleable to fit the needs of any group. And you’ll never have to explain to an elderly relative what cottaging means. So that’s also a bonus.
Number Three Top Ten Best Game to Save Christmas – Rhino Hero: Super Battle
Building games are all about skill, grace under pressure, and the ability to place delicate pieces in dangerous places. Except, not really. Building games are all about creating the circumstances of the fall, and Rhino Hero Super Battle is my favourite of these for a Christmas scenario. Simpler in its rules and its scoring than any of its many competitors (Meeple Circus and Junk Art for example), it’s also the game most likely to look spectacular on the dinner table. Structures in Rhino Hero Super Battle grow very large and very complicated before they collapse in a satisfying clatter of falling cardboard and boozy cheers.
One of the criteria for games on this list is that they get better as people become more inebriated, and this is certainly over-qualified on that count. Skillful play is possible, but it’s hardly the real goal of the exercise. It’s Russian Roulette where the bullet only ever hits your funny bone.
Number Two Top Ten Best Game to Save Christmas – Telestrations
Telestrations offers one of the shortest distances between ‘opening the box’ to ‘having fun’. It’s appeared on a number of our top ten lists because it is such a reliable game to have in the bank. You open it up, you give people their pads, and you give them a thing to draw. From that point onwards it’s comedy gold. The worse people are at drawing, the better it will be. Everyone is alternately drawing and guessing on the basis of what the person before them did, and the low-grade sniggering of the table is a reliable predictor of the entertainment in store for the reveal.
Honestly, we have played Telestrations so many times that we’ve run through multiple sets of pens. It’s the only game I own with an ongoing maintenance cost. It’s worth every penny and you will certainly have no cause to regret having it to hand when the party mood turns towards play.
Number One Top Ten Best Game to Save Christmas – The Jackbox Party Pack Series
Yeah, I’m cheating here but notice I never actually said this was a list of board games. The Jackbox Series aren’t board games, or even hybrid board games. This is straight up a series of video games but each and every one of them has a cardboard soul. If you really want to get the party going, you can do far, far worse than hooking a laptop up to your TV and firing up a Jackbox game. Almost everyone is already going to have a smartphone, and that’s all they need. Type in the special code for the current game into the series website, and you create a massive couch co-op experience of hilarious minigames. The exact games you will have depend on which entry in the series you have available but they’re all pretty good. Maybe you’re trying to get people to pick your lie out of a pack of other lies. Maybe you’re creating advertising slogans or designing t-shirts. Maybe you’re doing a quiz, or trying to guess what The Internet thinks about a particular issue. The range is considerable, but the fun is reliable.
Often when I bring games around now, rather than worrying about a rules explanation or having a big enough table I just hook up my Nintendo Switch and start one of these up. You don’t have to do a thing more – the game takes over. If you’re going to have everyone in a room staring at their phones anyway, why not leverage that to make sure that the screen-time brings you together instead of pushing you apart?