Top 10 Games to Play with Your Family This Christmas

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Matt: Hello! My name is Matt from Shut Up & Sit Down, and maybe you want to play a game with your family in the not too distant future.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Today we’re going to go through a bunch of games, most of which are available almost all of the time, because we appreciate it’s a pain in the *** when we say “hey, we love these games” and then you go on the internet and they’ve all gone.

Not only that, we are going to be giving you two options for each of our suggestions – we’re going to go with like “Yes! This is a great suggestion, everyone will love this. You cannot go wrong.” And we’re also going to give you a side suggestion for each game that’s a dash more spicy! And what do we mean by that? The second options will be the sort of thing where you start playing with your dad and then halfway through he says “I don’t understand the rules. I don’t like this. I want to go home.” “Dad, you can’t go home. This is your home. We’ve talked about this. And secondly, I love you, but gosh if you don’t understand how the game works just tell us before we get to the end?”

We got a big stack of games here and we’ve categorized them into all the different types of games that you might want to play. So feel free to just watch it all and pick a favorite, or scrub and jump around like an absolute maniac.

Let’s go!

Just One

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Matt: Ha ha ha ha!

Sorry, I was just having a lovely time with my four friends here at this game, and if you’re going to choose just one of these games to buy then maybe it’s this one: Just One.

This game is incredibly simple. You all have these little plastic placards in front of you, and one player is going to have a face-out card in front of them with a word that they haven’t seen.

Now in this case it’s going to be Aladdin, and everyone else is going to write a clue on their bit of plastic that’s going to hopefully guide me towards guessing that correct answer. But before I get to see the clues, they all have to show them to each other and if there are any duplicate clues – in this instance we’ve got Carpet, Disney, Genie, and Genie?! Mmm, both of the Genies disappear, and I then have to guess the word looking purely at Disney and Carpet.

So…. Toy Story 4.

That’s basically the whole game. It’s flipping great.

You can play it with up to seven people, or more if you’re comfortable with people sitting on your lap, and it’s just simple, immediate, and dramatically fun. Try and be clever, but not too clever, otherwise you’ll be frequently saying “I’m going to level with you folks. I don’t know what you mean.”

So Clover!

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Matt: But let’s just say you want something a touch more “ooo!” A little spicier?

So Clover! This game is not dramatically more complicated than Just One, but it is slightly more complicated. I might prefer it a little bit more? But that’s for you to decide.

This is a game where all of you are going to get this big plastic clover, you’re going to put four cards onto it – quickly and randomly without thinking about it too much – and then based on those cards, on your own, you’re going to take a couple of minutes to come up with clever clues that are going to link the two words on the edge of each of these four leaves, er, clovers.

Tom: Clover Clues!

Matt: Clover Clues! So the clue I’ve gone with matching Revolver and Mushroom is “The Beetles.” Revolver, obviously the name of an album. Mushroom, some of their haircuts look like a mushroom. Truck and Labyrinth? The connecting word for me is Warehouse. Really, I’m hinging all of this on Snacks: my word that combines Party and Appetite. Because once you’ve got one really good clue-combo, you’ll lock those cards into those positions which will give people fewer opportunities to be wrong elsewhere. Because then what happens is these four cards all get taken off, another one gets added to it randomly, they all get shuffled up, and then the rest of the people around the table have to try and identify not just which card goes on which little square nodule, but also in which orientation. Queuing lots of discussions, and you going “eeeeeargh.” But fundamentally, often, people getting it right and you feeling really clever, and they feel really clever, and everyone feels: really clever.

Tom: Soooo Clover.

Matt: So Very Clover indeed Mr. Bond.

That bit at the start where you come up with clues, you all do that at the same time and then you go around in a circle, and you all try to solve each other’s puzzles. It’s really fun. It has a few more rules than Just One, a little bit fiddlier, and a little bit of that dangerous “ooooh,” which makes games great, but also, oooh, maybe your nan can’t do it.


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Matt: Next up we’ve got some suggestions of games you play as teams, and if you’ve not yet heard of Codenames, then you’re in the right place. It’s an incredibly popular game, and for good reason: everybody loves it.

Each of the two teams will determine a spy master, and both spy masters for the blue team and the red team will see this little secret Grid of Secrets. This 5×5 grid represents the 5×5 grid of words on the table, and what you need to do is get all of the ones that match the color of your team to be revealed. You do that on your turn as a spy master by choosing a clue and then giving a number which is the number of words on the table currently that can be connected to that word in a way that is unanimously correct and obvious. So for example, if I wanted people to go for Foot, Centaur, and Horseshoe, I could just give the clue “Hoof. Three.” And then people would inevitably go “oh yeah, it could be this one, could be this one” and then someone will go “Wait! No, you can hoof something, to mean like throwing it! So maybe it’s Arm and Wave, which you do with your arm.” Whilst you sit there silently going “What is wrong with with humans?”

The key thing here is that it’s not just your team saying a word that gets it activated, which means sometimes when your team gets it wrong, well maybe they’re going to cover up a word for the other team! And worse than that, each of these little grid setups – and there’s a whole deck of different cards with different ones – has a black square on it. The black square is the unknown stranger man. If at any point point a team hits that word that team immediately loses. Meaning whatever you’re doing you have to make sure in any game – in this game the word Organ – is not touched. So no Pipes and no Organs, kids.

Tom: Jeeez… How many times does he have to tell you?

Matt: The first team to have every single one of their words revealed on the table with tiles, wins. But you’re racing against the other team, which means that on your turn you maybe want to play it safe and just give clues that have one or two connected words, but if you want to win you might have to be dangerous and say “Science. Five.”

Tom: “Science?”

Matt: “Science.”

Tom: “Organ!”

Matt: “Euuughhh, not Organ!!”

The great thing about Codenames is everyone can play and only two people each game have the responsibility of being the clever spy masters, but it means you’ll want to play it again and again so that everyone has a go at that. Because once you get going you think “ooh this is quite easy and fun.”

But! It’s not my favorite team based code cracking game….


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Matt: The Spicy one here is Decrypto!

I don’t have a copy of here because I’ve given it to someone else. Because I keep lending it to people so frequently that I just don’t know where it is.

Do you have my copy of Decrypto?

Tom: I’ve got my copy of Decrypto.

Matt: Have you got my copy of Decrypto.

Tom: No, I’ve got mine.

Matt: If you’ve got it, please let us know.

I’m not going to go into big detail about Decrypto cuz we talked about it a lot on previous guides for games to play with big groups.

Your team is constantly trying to misdirect the other team, whilst you’re both collecting clues and trying to crack the other team’s code before they crack yours.

Decrypto is, I think, much better. But it’s also a lot more complicated, and it’s really hard to teach people.

If I was going to describe the two in comparison I think Codenames is a fun game where you crack puzzles, whereas Decrypto is that, but it’s also a game where you are inventing the puzzles as you play.

It is next level brain, clever, superb stuff – but it’s not for everyone. It’s a little bit…

Tom: Zesty.

Matt: Zesty, yeah!

Quacks of Quedlinburg

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Matt: For the next category we have “hang on… that looks like an actual board game.” Most of these other things are little boxes you can just very slightly shuffle onto a table and people know what’s going on. You cannot do that with something this big without people going “Wait, what? You want us to learn THAT now?”

Quacks of Quedlinburg is my go-to suggestion for people just taking their first steps into bigger box games, and I don’t even know if it’s the right suggestion, but I don’t care: It’s great.

This is a game of everyone simultaneously pulling things out of their bag and placing them onto their cauldron track; trying to get further and further around these bubbly cyclones of opportunity in order to get more money to buy new ingredients to put into their potion bags, and points to win the game. But forget about that, it’s all about the money. All of these different types of ingredients do different things, and allow you to spice up your own game in a way that feels personalized, but mainly it’s a case of pushing your luck with people you love and having lots of folks around the table shouting obscenities at the same time.

It’s slightly more complicated to teach and play than it should be, but I love it so much.

Wandering Towers

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Matt: If you like the sound of that but you want something different, and apparently not actually much harder, just different, we’ve got a second backup suggestion for you called Wandering Towers. I haven’t played this game yet, though, so I need to become somebody else to tell you about it.

Tom: I’m somebody else, and I think that Wandering Towers is… better. I think it’s a more fun for the family game.

Matt: Fair enough!

Tom: Yeah!

Matt: I respect that.

Tom: I respect that too. (cuz it’s me.)

I think if you’re looking for a slightly bigger, silly game for your family to play then Wandering Towers is a really good little suggestion.

Essentially what you’re trying to do is get your wizards into this here tower. If you do that, then you win the game. How did you do that? You do it by playing cards. Cards will move your wizards clockwise around this big ring of spaces, and you’re trying to eventually dunk them into the tower, which will move it to the next available Raven space all the way over here, which then might scupper someone else’s plans. Here’s the spice though, some of these cards will let you move the towers themselves instead! Picking up a tower from any level and shuffling it forward that many spaces, which might get you closer to your target, but might also cover up someone’s wizard, locking them away, and turning the game into a bit of a memory game.

And to make things a little meaner, and a little spicier, every time you cover up someone else’s wizard you get to fill up one of your little potions. You can then spend these potions to do annoying things on your turn, like moving other people’s wizards backwards, pushing towers forwards, and just generally being a little git.

It’s quick. It’s breezy. It’s very simple to teach, and very simple to learn, and once you’ve played it once you’ll want to play it again, because there’s a little bit more strategy than you might think. Also, sometimes you just want to make a Giant-Mega-Tower, cuz it’s really satisfying to stack them. And then you’re just trying to look for where your guys are the whole game. “Are they here? Are they? Are they? Please? Where’s my guy?! Where’s my little wizard?!”

Quacks of Quedlinburg is where you get annoyed at yourself and the concept of luck, whereas Wandering Towers is more directly spiteful. You’ll be annoyed at each other all the time.

Cockroach Poker

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Matt: Next up we’ve got games where you get to be a little bit mean.

Now, you might be thinking “Hey, board games. They always devolve into fights, don’t they?”

I’ve got some bad news for you. No. They don’t have to. But in these instances they do, and it’s fine, and it’s intentional!

Cockroach Poker, probably one of my favorite games in the world, is a game where you effectively want to lie to people about what bugs and creepy crawlies and toads that you’re giving them.

There are barely any rules so I’ll tell you them all. If it’s your turn to start you’re going to choose a card from your hand and make a claim about what it is whilst sliding it to somebody else. “This is a toad.” “This is a scorpion.” “That? That card? That’s a bat.”

When you are faced with receiving a card you’ve got two choices: you can either take a little peek at it, at which point you then slide it to somebody else to make another claim. Perhaps the same claim: “He’s right. It is a bat.” Or, instead of looking at it, you can look the other person in the eye and say “I think you’re telling the truth,” or “I think you’re lying,” at which point you flip the card over, and if you were right in your assumption then that card goes in front of that person. But if you’re wrong in your assertion then that card goes in front of you.

You can have lots of different types of things in front of you, that’s fine, but four of a kind and you’re done, and also if you ever run out of cards you’re done.

Crucially, and perhaps the best thing about Cockroach Poker, is nobody wins Cockroach Poker. Each game simply has one person who loses.

It’s horrible. The art is horrible. It knows it’s horrible. I love it.


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Matt: If you’re looking for a card game that’s a little bit fiddlier, and actually not quite as mean, but still in some ways has the potential to be more mean, because you’re not supposed to be mean: Bohnanza is a beloved card game, and for good reason.

The delicious pulsey core of Bonanza is based on making deals. On your turn you’re going to be drawing some cards from the deck and then deciding whether you want them or whether you want to try and give them to somebody else in exchange for a little something-something from someone else. And by something-something I mean: beans.

One of the key rules in Bohnanza is the fact you’re never allowed to rearrange the cards in your hand, and every time you draw new ones they have to go to the back. And every time you want to plant your own cards they have to come from the front. It’s a horrible conveyor belt that you can only really control by getting rid of beans you don’t want by giving them to other people, who must immediately plant them.

Tom: In sweet deals!

Matt: Sweet Bean Deals!

Tom: Woooo!

Matt: We’ve got a full review of this, obviously, it’s the the premier Bean Game. But it’s a game where you’re constantly playing, even when it’s not your turn. You’re always looking for ways to offload beans you don’t want. Everyone’s always talking at each other and maybe shouting at each other a little bit every now and then. And making deals, bad deals, and getting miffed about deals of Christmas Past.

It’s really good.

Wits & Wagers

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Wits & Wagers: Vegas: In USA: Amazon

Matt: Our final category is Raucous Games. Games where you can really just let it all hang out with your dad. I haven’t actually got the main game I’m talking about here. I can’t find it, but it’s great: Wits & Wages.

Put simply, this is a quiz game where you are going to be asking questions that have a numerical answer, and everyone’s going to be trying to guess what they think is the closest to it, without going over. You don’t want to go bust.

Tom: How many Mario Brothers are there?

Matt: If I said one and no one else said two, I would win.

Tom: That’s just silly.

Matt: But it’s true.

What makes it extra fun though is the fact that it’s not just about knowing things. In this game you are going to be betting on other players, thinking that they’re more likely than you are to have got it right once you’ve seen everyone’s answers, and before the real answer gets revealed. Or bet heavily on yourself if you think you’re right!

We played some livestream games of this during the old lockdowns and it’s just glorious.

I’ve got the version with the full massive playmat and uses real poker chips, which is really ostentatious and you don’t need it, but I love it. But even if you don’t have the full decadent version that I do, this is just a really great evening in. Especially because you can basically run the game, so if you understand how to play no one else needs to know what’s going on really, you can just run it like you’re running a little game show in your house!

Long Shot: The Dice Game

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Matt: And on that same note we also have Long Shot: The Dice Game.

Long Shot: The Dice Game is equally raucous, but it is a lot fiddlier. You can kind of guide everyone through Wits & Wages without anyone really knowing what’s happening – like taking someone very elderly through a maze – however, people will need to have some idea of what’s happening here. And if you look at this and you’re immediately terrified by the prospect, then yeah, maybe not.

Each round the dice are going to be rolled and then you’re going to move the horse rolled that many spaces. I.e. Purple number eight moves 3 spaces: boom boom boom, uh-oh, not good if you don’t have bets on purple, but maybe you could still be in it to win it! Because the rest of the time you’re going to be using other players’ dice results to mark off things on your sheet which can increase the number of bids you’re making, and all sorts of other gambling adjacent bets and powers.

The core of it though is you are going to be going big on say, green horse number five, and then halfway through the game discovering “gaahh, that’s a bad idea” and immediately jumping on a different bandwagon. Other players are going to be doing the same thing, opposite things, you’re going to be chanting, wishing that yellow horse number two mysteriously dies. It’s very silly. Especially silly when some of these special powers allow you to physically move horses forwards or backwards meaning that the end of the race becomes this sort of strange rubber band of everyone trying to will their horse into first place.

It’s daft. It’s fun. It’s loud. It’s effectively like bringing the horse races into your house — Do you want horses in your house? If you do, great. If not, don’t do it.

Rats: High Tea at Sea

Matt: And a little extra bonus now – if you aren’t able to spend your holiday with the people you love but still want a splash of that raucous fun, we helped in the creation of a free play-by-zoom/facetime/discord/hologram roll ‘n’ write that we think is a pretty great way to see folks again when you can’t be together. I’m of course talking about RATS: High Tea at Sea, which you can download right here! Send it to your family, put on some silly hats, and have a remote banquet at sea.

That’s all the suggestions we have for some games that you could play. With people. But if you want more games, and more suggestions, including detailed descriptions of some of the games we glossed over today, we have other videos in a similar vein: go and watch them!

There’s so many games that you could buy and play, and arguably should buy, and should play. Here’s our list from last year!


Finally, it is coming up to our Donation Drive time – it’s always awkward when we do this – so do keep your eyes on the channel. If we’ve given you a good recommendation here and you think “Oh! That’s good. I’ll get that for the rellies this year!” Then please consider chucking us a couple of quid.

The affiliate links above and on our game pages also help, or adding ?tag=shupsido02-20 to the end of the URL bar and pressing Enter to refresh the page before you make your Amazon purchases. It works for all your non-boardgame Amazon purchases as well, and doesn’t cost you a thing! Yay Bezos Bucks! If you have Amazon Prime you can also subscribe to our Twitch to give us more free Bezos Bucks. How To.

That’s my shamelessness gone. For now. Goodbye!