Family Games for the Easter Holidays

Gird your loins. Batten down the hatches. For two full weeks, the nation’s young will be released into the wild, allowed to roam freely, gather in high streets and skulk in fast food outlets. (Shout out to the table upstairs at the back of McDonald’s in Maidstone, which was my friends’ haunt…)

As a childless Londoner, the school holidays are the time of year I find myself grumpiest, squeezing onto a train behind a gaggle of tourists who are going a single stop that would have been far easier and quicker for them to simply walk, after being held up behind a legion of the slowest walking people possible who refuse to stand on the right and have decided that, yes, actually, the bottom of the stairs is indeed the perfect place to abruptly stop and stare dumbfounded at a map.

While my campaign for a secret second Tube that is only accessible to those of us with a London postcode has yet to find any momentum whatsoever, my OTHER campaign – to make these holidays far more entertaining for the families who find themselves either on some form of vacation or indeed staying at home but desperately needing to fill several hours of the day – continues apace.

I could use a bunch of buzzwords and pop psychology to suggest that board gaming is a great way to bring families together, cross generational divides and allow organic ways for siblings at tricky ages to connect. But honestly?? They’re just fun.

Whether the table you’re gathered around is in a cottagecore AirBnB on the coast, or simply in your dining room, here are our recommendations for games that are, to use a cliché, fun for all the family!

Herd Mentality

A new classic in the party game field, it’s a very simple concept: question and answer! But with one crucial catch,

The question you’re asked will be something like “Name the best takeaway.” BUT WAIT! While you might feel very strongly, as I do, that the correct answer is “Indian, mate,” have a quick look around the table. Because the object of the game is to give the same answer as the majority of people around the table. So if you go full steam ahead with your answer but know that the rest of your family are likely to say “Chinese,” you’ll end up being the odd one out.

It’s a fun guessing game where the thing you’re guessing is what everyone else is likely to guess that you’re guessing, Not only that, but the odd one out is given an adorable, tiny little pink cow. While you’re in possession of the adorable cow, even if you gain the most points, you cannot win. So your second objective becomes trying to engineer a scenario where someone else becomes the odd one out.

Unless you’re me, in which case you actively try and keep it. Turns out the cure to my competitiveness is a twee little toy.

Colour Brain

A quiz game that sort of operates as the Great Equalizer of quizzes. Specialist knowledge is not necessary, because every question ends up being multiple choice, and every answer is simply a colour!

You each have a hand of colour cards. A player draws a question card – “What colour are the taxis in New York?” – and you each place your answer selected from the colour cards in your hand. It couldn’t be more simple, which makes it something that everyone can get involved with regardless of how much of the world they’ve seen.

There’s also a Disney edition of the game that’s been licensed, so if you’re one of the lucky gang that gets to go off to the Happiest Place On Earth, then you can take that for something to do at the airport on the way! Not that I’d know. I’ve never been. And I’m not at all bitter.

3D Labyrinth 

Most of the games that fall under the “Family Classics” variety won’t find a place on this list – not because they’re not good, but because they’re so baked into the consciousness that they’re somewhat resigned to the box in the attic marked “In Case of Christmas Conversation Emergency”.

Labyrinth, though, is a blast and deserves to be on your radar all year round. Very simply, you’re trying to navigate the maze in front of you while gathering treasure. But, as is the way with a maze, your path may take twists, turns and dead ends. There’s one tile outside the board, which you can use to slide into the maze, changing the path of said maze to help in your journey to the treasure.

The 3D version of the game…well, I mean it takes the concept and makes it 3D. You’re going up and down levels, but you can’t go up more than one level, meaning that not only will your treasure be blocked by a wall of the maze, it might be too high or too low for you to access, creating a nice additional challenge.

Port Royal

In case I haven’t made it abundantly clear elsewhere on this website and in the general day to day of my life, I bloody love anything even vaguely pirate themed. So this had to have a place on the list.

Port Royal is an engine-building card game that plays with a push-your-luck mechanic. You’re trying to build the best port by using cards of different values to recruit crew, trade with other players and gain the most influence. It’s one of those games that’s far more simple to play than explain.

By virtue of it being a card game, it also requires very little in the way of table space and is a nice, quick one to bust out when you’ve got a bit of time to kill, making it absolutely perfect for a family getaway.

Poetry for Neanderthals

A brilliant bit of silly nonsense that’ll have everyone laughing in no time.

Split yourselves into two teams, and you’re going to take it in turns to try and help your team guess words on a card – not unlike Articulate, another fantastic family board game.

But the key difference here is that you can only use single syllable words. If they dare use any word longer than that single syllable, then they are to be quite rightly bonked on the head with the supplied inflatable club, and the team loses points.

It’s such a simple concept, as all the best party games are. Have a gander at us playing the game here!

 

Telestrations

A beloved favourite on the island of NRB, Telestrations is an excellent one that doesn’t require a great deal of thought or rules explanation.

It blends the classic children’s game of Telephone, whispered words passed from one to the other to see if they can make it round the circle unchanged, with illustrations, adding an extra layer of interpretation and confusion!

You’re given a word. You have to express that word in art on a little whiteboard. Then you pass that board to your neighbour, who has to interpret what word that drawing represents, and pass it on, to someone who must draw the word they’ve been given, and so and and so forth until the circle is complete.

You then all have a good giggle together as you reveal just how appalling Great Aunt Mabel’s drawing of “Fanmail” was and the trail of disaster it set off around the circle.

(And of course you can watch us play the game here!)

 

Ten Bone Bowling

And an extra bonus here, too – one that’s for quite literally every member of the family, as you bring the dog into the game too!

You set up 10 bone-shaped bowling pins, and then throw the ball for the dog to go and pick up. You play the game by taking a guess at how many of the pins your dog will knock over while they’re fetching!

So really, how chaotic is your pooch?

If you want to pick up any of these games, check if they’re in stock at Zatu. Buying them there supports No Rolls Barred via our affiliate partnership. Read more here.