Ryan’s Holiday Buyers Guide

It’s that time of year again and you don’t want to find yourself at a local CVS picking a gift card off the wall of plastic for your loved one. Whether you’re the gamer in your family or you’re shopping for a gamer, this list can help. This is a list of games that are worth spending your hard earned cash on this holiday season. Hopefully this will help you in your shopping endeavor and keep you away from the wall of plastic at the local drug store.

For the Party Animal

Concept – Repos Production


We all have someone in our life that loves bringing together groups of people. The game Concept from Repos Production is a great fit for a table full of people. The game is far less embarrassing than charades and will have people wracking their brains to get the right answer. Players use markers and tokens to indicate themes, ideas, colors and shapes that point to the concept they picked on the card. Each card has three difficulty levels and the game is great with teams. Concept is perfect for families or groups with kids and adults.

Buy Concept on Amazon

LINKEE – Big Potato Games

LINKEE - courtesy of Board Game Geek

Another great game to check out is LINKEE from Big Potato Games. This is a trivia game that has teams guessing the common link between 4 different trivia questions. Having the correct answer gives the team a card with a letter on the back. When a team completes the word “LINKEE”, that team wins! The game is very simple to learn, challenging to play and you’ll be having a good time in just a couple minutes.

Buy LINKEE on Amazon | Buy LINKEE at Target

Codenames / Codenames Pictures


You can’t go wrong with a copy of Codenames or Codenames Pictures. This is a game that comes out when we have groups of people over to the house. The game is great whether you have 4 people or 10 people playing. All these games are really family friendly choices for the person that usually has a full house.

Buy Codenames on AmazonRead our Codenames Review

One for the Kids

There are tons of kids games available online and at your local big box store. But which of these are actually good? For us, the games the kids really enjoy are the ones that they can teach and beat the adults at.

Dr. Eureka – Blue Orange Games

Dr. Eureka game components

The game Dr. Eureka from Blue Orange Games hits the table regularly at our house. This dexterity game has players arranging molecules in test tubes to get the right combination before the rest of the players. The game plays up to 4 players at a time, is fast-paced and easy to learn. It’s a great fit for kids 7+ and really fun for adults too! This is one that will be traveling with us this holiday season.

Buy Dr. Eureka on Amazon | Read our Dr. Eureka Review

Happy Salmon – North Star Games

Happy Salmon

Need a ridiculous game that gets kids and parents out of their seats? Happy Salmon might be a great gift this Christmas. The game is simple, inexpensive and comes in a fish shaped pouch for storage. The game is for 3 to 6 players and each player gets a deck of cards. Each card instructs the player to do one of 4 actions. These are high 5’s, fist bumps, switch places with another player or do a handshake called “Happy Salmon”. Players flip their top card, yell out the action and find another person that has the same card. The first player to play through their entire deck wins. The game is fun chaos with 5 or 6 kids and the game brings plenty of laughs.

Buy Happy Salmon on Amazon

My Happy Farm – Portal Games

My Happy Farm - Courtesy of Board Game Geek

A game that I’ve heard about multiple times this month is My Happy Farm from Portal Games. Up to 4 players own individual farms with 4 animals that need to be cared for. Feeding your cute little barnyard friends will cause them to grow in length similar to a wiener dog. Players get bonuses for the healthiest animals and not feeding your animal will cause them to leave the farm. The artwork is colorful and the game can be played by kids 8+ without much help from an adult. The game has a European gameplay style which still makes it engaging for an adult to jump into with their little ones.

Buy My Happy Farm on Amazon

For the Casual Gamer

Machi Koro – IDW

Machi Koro - Courtesy of Board Game Geek

One of my favorite “types” of games has to be city building. In Machi Koro, players are working to build the best city possible and finish developing their landmarks be for the other players. The artwork is beautiful, the game plays in 30 to 45 minutes and can play up to 5 players. Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City is the newest version of the game and contains more balanced cards, some rule changes and the 5th player option which is different than the original. The game is a great entry level game that is accessible to even the newest gamer. You can find it right now at Target stores nationwide or online.

Buy Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City at Target



Some great friends of ours bought a copy of Qwirkle for us last Christmas. Since then, we’ve played it at least 30 times! This game has been around since 2006 and holds up even after lots of play. Up to 4 players score points by matching colors, shapes and completing sets on the scrabble-like play area. The game is easy to teach but tough to master. Our only word of warning would be that this game is a poor choice for anyone that is colorblind. The game is a lot of fun and easy to find in a lot of big box stores.

Buy Qwirkle on Amazon

Potion Explosion – Cool Mini or Not

Potion Explosion

If you’ve ever played Candy Crush or one of those free-to-play bubble popping games on your phone, you’re halfway to understanding the game Potion Explosion by Cool Mini or Not. The game is a lot of fun and it has enough strategy to bring gamers and non-gamers together. Players strategically pull marbles from a dispenser to fill their potion recipes. Filling a potion will get you victory points and a special ability that will help you get better marble combos. The player with the most points win the game! This game is fantastic and worth picking up for the casual gamer in your life.

Buy Potion Explosion on Amazon

Do you have a game that would make an amazing gift this holiday season?  Post your favorites in the comments below and help our readers buy the perfect game for their loved one.

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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Aaron James

I want one of these lists regularly! Thank you for an awesome quick intro into a bunch of really cool looking games.

Ryan Gutowski

You’re welcome Aaron! One of our other writers is doing another list that publishes next week with his suggestions.

Leo Crosby

Great list! Should also try Flick ’em Up. The new release is only $35 and plays 2-10 players. Great for family gatherings over the holidays.

Ryan Gutowski

You’re right Leo! Flick ‘Em Up is a great one. We bought the version you mentioned and our family loves it.

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