2023 Holiday Gift Guide

2023 Holiday Gift Guide

Giving the gift of gaming is something that lasts far past the holiday season. Like last year, I’m breaking down my Holiday Gift Guide into 4 different categories.

Stocking Stuffers – Looking for an inexpensive gaming gift? Here are a couple games in the under $20 price point that will fit into a stocking for your loved one.

Gaming for 2 – We love our 2 player focused games. We’ve got some suggestions for gaming with a lower player count.

Family Gaming – Gaming with kids can be awesome, but finding the right game can be tough. We have some suggestions for multi-generational game nights.

Game Night Ready – Looking for a bigger game that you can bring to your next game night? These games have plenty of strategy and style to impress at your next game session.

Throughout this article, you’ll find Amazon affiliate links. We are given a commission based on qualifying purchases.


Sea Salt & Paper

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games
Number of Players: 2 – 4
MSRP: $15
Review of Sea Salt & Paper

Sea Salt & Paper - under sea life

One of our most played card games of the Fall has been Sea Salt & Paper. This gorgeous card game is filled with origami photography from Lucien Derainne and Pierre-Yves Gallard. After the first couple games, you start to realize how clever the card play of Sea Salt & Paper is. Players work to make card sets for points or pairs that give special actions during multiple rounds.

Catching your opponents off guard is a big part of this game as you work your way to more than 7 points. Once you have the points you need, you can end the round or give your opponents one last turn. There’s a lot of strategy packed into this tiny box. It’s one of our favorite card games of the year and an excellent game to find in any stocking this Christmas.

Purchase Sea Salt & Paper through the Pandasaurus webstore or online through Amazon today.

Star Wars Rivals

Publisher: Funko Games
Number of Players: 2
MSRP: $19 ($5 boosters)

Star Wars Rivals from Funko Games

This Summer, my Star Wars loving son and I started collecting Star Wars Rivals, a new collectable game from Funko Games. A starter set comes with everything you need to have a light vs dark side battle. Players fight over 3 locations that are in the center of the table. Players deploy pre-painted miniatures to the different locations and then a die roll determines where the fights take place.

Star Wars Rivals uses cards to modify attack values and shift strategies during the game. Each character has a unique set of cards and can be mixed and matched with other fighters. Classic Star Wars characters from the original trilogy through modern series are available in boost boxes. Unlike a collectable card games, Star Wars Rivals doesn’t feel like a money pit. With the starter set and a couple boosters, there is a ton of gameplay that we’ve had a lot of fun with.

Purchase a Star Wars: Rivals starter set and booster boxes at Wal-Mart stores nation-wide.

Inside Job

Publisher: KOSMOS
Number of Players: 3 – 5
MSRP: $20
Review of Inside Job

Inside Job - player cards

Inside Job has to be one of my favorite trick-taking games on the market. One player at the table is an insider, working against the agents at the table. Each round has a mission card that players want to complete. The insider wants to mess that up and collect intel tokens by winning tricks before a number of missions are completed.

Fans of trick-taking games will feel at home with Inside Job. Adding in this deception mechanic works so well and triggers lots of accusations around the table. There are more than half a dozen variant cards that tweak the goal of the insider, giving this game loads of replayability. If you’re looking for a classic card game with modern mechanics, Inside Job is a great gift to give this holiday season.

Purchase Inside Job from your local game store or online through Amazon today.

Holiday Hijinks Series

Publisher: Grand Gamers Build
Number of Players: 1+
MSRP: $10.99
Review of The Kringle Caper

The Kringle Caper review

I’m a fan of escape rooms and puzzle games. It’s surprising how much game is packed into the 18 cards of each Holiday Hijinks game. Currently there are 7 games in this escape room series. I’ve only played 3 of them but have loved every minute. Whether playing solo or with a friend, players solve puzzles on cards, unlocking new cards. You’ll interact with a mobile website from time to time as it keeps track of the amount of time it takes for you to finish the game.

Each game is themed after a different holiday and offers a variety of challenging puzzles. The size and cost of these games make it a fantastic stocking stuffer for the puzzle lover in your life. Grand Gamers Guild sells these games in 3-pack bundles which a great if you’re buying for a couple different people this season.

Purchase a game or a bundle of 3 on the Grand Gamers Guild webstore.


Sobek 2 Players

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games
Number of Players: 2
MSRP: $25
Review of Sobek 2 Players

Sobek: 2 Players Review

Sobek 2 Players is the tile collection game based on the classic card game from Bruno Cathala. Players are looking for just the right items in the market to complete collections to earn big points. The golden Ankh pawn moves around the market, shifting players strategies as the game moves along.

The game has lots of opportunities to earn bonus as and keep your opponent from the resources they need. Get too greedy and you’ll earn corruption which can benefit your opponent. Sobek 2 Players is a great head-to-head game that plays in around 30 minutes. If you’re buying for your favorite board game partner, consider Sobek 2 Players this season.

Purchase Sobek 2 Players at your local game store or online through Amazon today.

Wizards of the Grimoire

Publisher: Grimoire Games
Number of Players: 2
MSRP: $29
Full Playthrough of Wizards of the Grimoire

Wizards of the Grimoire

Wizards of the Grimoire puts two powerful wizards head-to-head with a catalogue of spells at their disposal. Players will draft spells from a central location into their tableau. Wizards uses a mana to trigger spells and has a cool down system that makes this game stand out.

Every time this game hits the table, I look for new synergies that come from card effects. There’s a depth to the game that keeps me coming back and keeps each game feeling fresh. Everything you need is in this one box and it’s one of my favorite head-to-head card games in our collection.

Purchase Wizards of the Grimoire at your local game store or through the Grimoire Games webstore.

Murder Mystery Party

Publisher: University Games
Number of Players: 1+
MSRP: $17 – $30
Review of Murder Mystery Party: The Night Hunter

The Night Hunter - files

The Murder Mystery Party line of games has apparently been around since the 80’s and I had no idea. This Fall, we checked out The Night Hunter, one of the latest cold case mysteries in this line of games. I was blown away by the quality of the physical component in the game and the story was really engaging.

If you have someone in your life that is into murder mystery cases, Murder Mystery Party has a nice line of games to check out. They have just about any theme you can think of with all different difficulty levels. For the price, Murder Mystery Party games are a fantastic gift for the amateur sleuth in your life.

Purchase a Murder Mystery Party case at your local game store or online through Amazon today.

Boop or BOOoop

Published: Smirk & Dagger
Number of Players: 2
MSRP: $35
Review of BOOoop

Boooop - cat victory

Boop is not only one of the cutest noises in the world, but it’s also the name of a strategic game about cats jumping on the bed. Players will take a set of 8 kittens and strategically place them on the bed in the center of the table. Placing a kitten next to another kitten will “boop” them one space away. The board is constantly shifting as they graduate kittens into adult cats. Once a player is able to successfully line up 3 adult cats in a row, they win the game.

Boop is deceptively strategic and so stinkin’ cute. This year, a Halloween version of the game hit the market with a new ghost cat mechanic. BOOoop is a great option for your Halloween loving friend. A single game plays in around 20 minutes and it’s hard not to play over and over. Boop is a game that is at the top of our 2-player games list in our house and would make a great gift this holiday season.

Purchase Boop at your local game store or purchase online through Amazon today.


Diced Veggies

Published: Kids Table Board Gaming
Number of Players: 2 – 4
MSRP: $20
Review of Diced Veggies

Diced Veggies - recipe cards

Looking for a game that is fun and will make you incredibly hungry? Diced Veggies is a new dice drafting game from the team at Kids Table Board Gaming. Players are drafting 5 different ingredients from a block in the center of the table. Recipe cards will tell you what ingredients you need to complete the dish. Hype cards are ways that you can increase your culinary score when completing a dish.

Diced Veggies is such a fun game that the whole family can enjoy. The components are bright, sturdy and delicious looking. The challenge in this game comes as you manage your dice and small hand limit, working to cook 7 dishes before your opponents. This is a game that will delight just about anyone this holiday season.

Purchase Diced Veggies at your local game store, through the KTBG webstore or online through Amazon today.

Disney Animated

Publisher: Funko Games
Number of Players: 2 – 4
MSRP: $35
Review of Disney Animated

Few things elicit childhood memories like a Disney cartoon. Disney Animated is a cooperative game from the team at Prospero Hall, published by Funko Games. Each player works on building their own animation cell before the game tracker hits the deadline. In the center of the table, players have 5 different actions they can select from before the active Disney Villain gets a turn.

Disney Animated is a fantastic game for families to enjoy. The game comes with scenes from Aladdin, Snow White, Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland and 101 Dalmatians. Each have there own unique special action, components and style. This game is impressive and is an excellent gift for anyone with a love for Disney.

Purchase Disney Animated at your local game store, through the Funko webstore or online through Amazon today.

Chicken

Publisher: Keymaster Games
Number of Players: 2 – 8
MSRP: $20

Chicken! preview

Press-your-luck dice games are a big hit with our friends and family. Chicken is one of the best games in that category. Players are rolling dice, trying to gain points with chicken head icons and busting when you roll 3 or more fox heads. What’s unique is that players can earn more dice by rolling egg icons. As more eggs are rolled, more dice are added to the active players roll.

When dice are passed to the next player, they take all the dice that have hatched, unless they chicken out. Chickening out means you loose a point but reset to the standard 4 dice that started the game. There is a lot of fun in the small cylinder. The game plays in under 20 minutes, supports 8 players and we rarely play just one game in a sitting. This is a family favorite that your family may fall in love with this holiday season.

Purchase Chicken at your local game store or online through Amazon today.

Junk Drawer

Publisher: 25th Century Games
Number of Players: 1 – 4
MSRP: $40

Junk Drawer - Holiday 2023

Organizing is not something I get excited about. But, the game Junk Drawer makes for a puzzley fun time for up to 4 players. Players are given a dual-layers board with 4 distinct sections. With each round, players have to place a specific item into each of these 4 sections only once during the round. This game is a challenge to your decision making as well as being a nice brain teaser.

Every single game is different because of the 4 unique scoring goals that are chosen at the start of the game. Junk Drawer can be easy and casual or brutally punishing based on the scoring goals that are picked. This makes the game just right for just about any age or experience at the game table. Junk Drawer is honestly the most fun you’ll have organizing anything this holiday season.

Purchase Junk Drawer at your local game store, through the 25th Century Games webstore or online through Amazon today.


Earth

Publisher: Inside Up Games
Number of Players: 1 – 5
MSRP: $50

Earth from Inside Up Games

I played Earth a couple times this year and have really enjoyed the depth of this engine-building game. This game has a simple gameplay loop with so many options available. Players spend resources to grow plants as they grow their individual ecosystems using cards. The shear variety of cards you’ll see during a game is wild. Earth is an engine-builder that has loads of replayability as you try new strategies each time.

One of my favorite parts of Earth is the amount of game that is squeezed into around an hour. The game has almost no down time because all players get to take an action even when they aren’t the active player. Fans of games like Wingspan and PARKS will find a lot to enjoy with Earth.

Purchase Earth from your local game store or online through Amazon today.

Heat: Pedal to the Metal

Publisher: Days of Wonder
Number of Players: 1 – 6
MSRP: $60

Heat: Pedal to the Metal

Heat was the game that I was most excited for at the end of 2022. Thankfully my wonderful wife found a copy for me and it was an amazing Christmas gift. Heat is a racing game that uses a deck building mechanic that is easy to teach, tough to master. This game comes with 4 different tracks, expansion modules in the box, solo rules and options for playing multi-race sessions. There is so much game in this box!

There’s a reason why this game has been sold out multiple times during this calendar year. Heat has quickly become our most played racing game because of how the game scales. The game has been a hit with new gamers and seasoned gamers alike in our home. If your loved one doesn’t already own Heat, this is a wonderful gift to receive this season.

Purchase Heat: Pedal to the Metal at your local game store or online through Amazon (when it’s in stock).

Unmatched Adventures: Tales to Amaze

Publisher: Restoration Games
Number of Players: 1 – 4
MSRP: $50

Unmatched Adventures - Tales to Amaze

Unmatched Adventures is a new big box Unmatched game from Restoration Games. Inside of this box are two unique cooperative battles and 4 characters that can be played against any of the previous fighters in the series. This box is packed to the brim with content! Mixing and matching the different cryptid minions to create unique battles keep games fresh and challenging.

I can’t think of a better way to jump into the Unmatched universe than Tales to Amaze. The pulp comic style and variety of fighters in the set is top-notch. The game plays 1 to 4 players flawlessly and is an excellent purchase even if your gamer doesn’t have any other Unmatched sets. This set should hit retail just in time to get it wrapped and under the tree this season.

Purchase Unmatched Adventures: Tales to Amaze from your local game store when it hits retail in late November.

RA

Publisher: 25th Century Games
Number of Players: 2 – 5
MSRP: $50 / $90

RA - Deluxe Edition

RA is a classic auction game that has been republished by 25th Century Games earlier this year. This is the absolute best version of the game that has ever been published. Players are bidding on tiles that are drawn out of a bag during a players turn. When a player is ready, they can force an auction by invoking RA. With some tiles scoring after each round and others at the end of the game, there is lots of strategy involved in RA.

The artwork from Ian O’Toole is stunning and adds so much to this game. We have the Deluxe Edition of the game and it’s a joy every time hits the table. If you’re looking for a game that will hit the table often and be a staple of game night, RA is an amazing gift to give this holiday season.

Purchase RA from your local game store, through the 25th Century Games webstore or online through Amazon today.

Ryan Gutowski

I'm a huge fan of strategy games and pretty much anything that involves "city building". My love of board games goes back to my childhood and passion for building relationships with others.

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