This article is going to get physical, Olivia Newton-John fans. No offense to any Steam gift-code givers out there, but things have to get physical. They just do.
When it comes to gifts, something needs to be wrapped. Something physical needs to be handed over. The recipient has to unwrap the thing. There is a whole wholesome tradition of thing-ness that goes with gift giving.
For all the wonderful good that technology has brought, it’s also really wrecked gift giving. It wasn’t that long ago that a couple CDs were a solid gift, pun certainly intended. Although it must sound (again, the puns!) nutty to the youngsters, the idea of physically giving someone a chunk of polycarbonate plastic with music on it was a joyous thing. (It gets even weirder, whippersnappers: That circular chunk of plastic came in its own durable plastic case that included a little paper pamphlet inside where all the metadata was printed!)
Such Christmases probably seem distant to Kids These Days®. But music, movies, books — these were go-to gift categories, and they served humanity well throughout history. We used to receive gifts that were physically printed out on paper and bound, like how the neanderthals used to read.
Now what? Your dad picks a book out for you and you just notice it already on a phone app or some such nonsense. Nothing to unwrap. Zoom has killed our offices, so now the digital gremlins are coming for our gift exchanges. It’s bull malarkey.
Here’s how we fix this: It’s boardgames.
Christmastime is a great opportunity to gift board games. It could be a gift for a family member, a co-worker, or maybe even a treat for yourself. C’mon, treat yourself.
Note: Wrapping paper not included.
7 Great Board Game Christmas Gifts
There is nothing square about Marvel United. The play follows a circle, in fact.
You’re all in it together. Players select a Marvel hero. The game controls the villain. Guided by cards that are laid out in a circular pattern, players work together to thwart the villain.
The instructions are easy-to-follow. It’s a nice price point. What more needs to be said?
This game is fun for the whole family but the target audience is young teens or older elementary-aged kids.
Get Marvel United here. Bonus: The latest and greatest is a X-Men edition!
First, Everdell is a beautiful game, and if you are giving something as a gift, presentation matters, so I’m just tossing it out there that you may want to buy this one for a loved one. But most importantly, it’s an adorable game that is also a lot of fun to play. My wife and I love it. It’s a good family game if your kids are teenagers or young adults. It might be over the heads of little kids, even though they will love the artwork.
The game features a big cardboard tree that gives the game a big presence and the artwork of the woodland creatures is incredible. It’s the wonderful combination of A+ presentation mixed with legitimately good gameplay. That’s why it pops in on my list of favorite board games of all time.
Wingspan has been the runaway hit the past few years in board gaming, so you may be familiar. But if you aren’t, and you are a living human being who enjoys good things, Wingspan is a great board game to consider.
Designed by Elizabeth Hargrave, Wingspan showcases the immense variety of birds through engaging gameplay, all wrapped up in a stunning package. Even though I never had any desire to become an ornithologist, I can definitely see that as a possibility after playing this game.
The basics of the game involve taking one of four actions:
- Playing a bird card into one of the three habitats of your aviary
- Gaining food tokens from the bird-feeder, allowing you to pay the cost of playing other birds
- Laying eggs and dispersing them across the birds in your aviary
- Drawing bird cards from the deck or face-up bird tray
It’s wonderfully thematic as well as being engaging and strategic.
To: Wingspan is possibly the most gorgeous board game you’ll own. It works almost as an “art piece” collectible, so get it for someone you might want to impress with your good taste.
The theme obviously makes it perfect for nature lovers or ornithologists. Plus, it’s absolutely a solid game, meaning it works well for folks who may have Catan and Ticket to Ride, but are open to trying a board game that’s a step above those.
After huge sellouts early in its release, Wingspan is available again. Get it here, direct from the publisher, or at your FLGS.
Marvel Champions is the game for a loved one that loves super-heroic fun. It’s also my absolute favorite board game, so although I will point you to our review, I plan to continue blathering about the thing.
It works great as a solo game or as a co-op. The base game gives you a wonderful selection of superheroes and the gameplay is wonderful. And new superheroes are released each month as expansions, so it’s the game that will allow the gift recipient to drop down into a rabbit hole, if that’s what they enjoy.
Also, the latest expansions are X-Men themed, which is great. But, trust me, the core game is more than enough and that alone will make for a wonderful Christmas gift. To: It’s not necessarily for beginners, this is a game best for someone with some board gaming experience.
Get Marvel Champions here. You won’t regret it.
Sushi Go is a card game that has players trying to make sushi for points. If you think you read that sentence wrong, you didn’t. But boy does this card game make sushi making fun.
Each player gets a handful of cards that you need to string together in order to add up the most points. But after you lay down your card, each player passes their hands of cards to the player next to them. So while you might have thought you had the perfect strategy going, you’re now looking at a whole new hand of cards.
To: It’s a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone. Like the game listed below, Sushi Go is a game that works in all settings. I play it with my young girls. Their granddad gets in on the action occasionally. It’s simple and fun, so it’s also a game that works well as an introduction to new players. Besides, it’s super affordable, so it’s a no-brainer purchase.
Get it here as a steal for under $10.
Azul is an abstract tile game. It’s fun, thoughtful, and beautiful to look at.
The great thing about going first into an abstract game is it doesn’t require any sort of genre familiarity to enjoy the game. Plus, abstract games are good brain builders that can be enjoyed by pretty much anybody, young and old alike.
My nephew got it for his birthday this year and it was a big hit with the entire family.
Villainous Star Wars
Villainous is produced by Ravensburger, who outsourced the original Villainous design to Prospero Hall, a firm that specializes in light strategy games for big box retailers. While that doesn’t sound like something that would interest a hipster, I need to tell you: Prospero Hall makes great games!
Prospero Hall doesn’t make the deepest games you’ll play, but they’re quick and always fun. And the components aren’t the highest quality because they are produced for a big box price point, but you’ll always get good artwork. Best, you’ll always get solid gameplay.
So, don’t sleep on Prospero Hall designed games! Whether it’s Villainous, or some of Prospero Hall’s other games like Horrified, Jaws, or Back to the Future, they make the type of games that make great gifts.
Prospero Hall designs pretty accessible games so the target audience is pretty broad. Anyone probably 8+ can get into it. And a Star Wars themed Villainous game is sure to be a hit, as it builds upon an excellent original.
Get Star Wars Villainous here.
So these are only a few board game recommendations if you are looking for Christmas gifts. But if you take away anything, take away the fact that board games are in a really great spot right now and there is absolutely a game for anyone you can think of.
If you want further recommendations, feel free to jump over to The Boarderlands, our Facebook group dedicated to board games. We’d be happy to help you find the perfect gift game.