Best New Family Board Games

Filed under: Kids' Games

 Family Board Games

Lego enters the board game arena with games including Harry Potter Hogwarts. Credit:

Maybe it's just too dang cold to play outside. Maybe you've had about all you can take of the latest SpongeBob marathon on TV. Or maybe you're just looking for a good, old-fashioned way to bond with the kids during the holiday season and winter vacations.

It's time to pull out the board games. And, while we fully condone a few rounds of classics like "Candyland," "Sorry!" or "Chutes and Ladders," we also think you should roll the dice and check out some of the new games released since last winter, just begging to be played with now.

Diana Nelson, president of Kazoo & Company, says hot games for 2010 include new takes on test your luck games, strategy games and even dominoes.

"Dizios is dominoes with a twist," she tells ParentDish. "Tiles are placed one by one to create a flowing piece with all edges matching. Points are earned according to pieces your tile touches."

 Family Board Games

Guess Who? Mix 'n Mash edition lets players create funny characters. Credit:

Nelson also likes the award-winning Pentago, a fast-paced strategy game with a simple object.

"Create a row of five game markers anywhere on the board," Nelson says. "The blocks are moved on each turn, so your move is always moving."

Also new this year is Hasbro's line of U-Build games that allow players to customize things each time they play. Look for twists on classics including Connect 4, Monopoly, Battleship, Sorry! and Mouse Trap.

Whichever games you choose, adding a few family game nights to your holiday plans will not only promote a little good cheer, but won't cost much, either. Most games run less than $20.

So, in the spirit of the holiday classic "The 12 Days of Christmas," here's ParentDish's top dozen board games to keep you busy -- and bonded -- all winter long.

1. Wits & Wagers Family by North Star Games
Why it's fun: In this test your luck game, one player asks a question, everyone writes down the answer and you see who answers correctly.
Ages: 8 and up, for three to 10 players
Get it: $19.99,

2. U-Build Monopoly by Hasbro
Why it's fun: Use hexagonal property spaces that snap together to build a game track that customizes the board and determines how long the game will be played. The Starter Track allows for a 30-minute game, while the Classic Track allows for at least an hour of fun. Want even more? Pro and Freestyle Tracks will keep the game going even longer.
Ages: 8 and up, for two to six players
Get it: $19.99, mass retailers and

3. Harry Potter Hogwarts by Lego
Why it's fun:
It's high time Lego entered the board game world, and, with the excitement surrounding the latest Potter movie's premiere, we're guessing kids will clamor for this one. Instructions show you how to build your board with Legos, then it's up to you to find your way through the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry castle, collect your homework items and get back to your common room.
Ages: 8 and up, for two to four players
Get it: $29.99,

4. Sorry! Spin by Hasbro
Why it's fun:
The classic game of sweet revenge takes on a new spin for 2010, with a rotating game board that makes getting "home" trickier than ever.
Ages: 6 and up, for two to four players
Get it: $24.99, mass retailers and

5. Pentago Multiplayer by Mindtwister
Why it's fun: As with chess, in the family version of the popular Pentago, you must think ahead several moves and use spatial orientation techniques to win. And, just when you think you have a strategy figured out, someone moves where you least suspected.
Ages: 6 and up, for two to four players
Get it: $29.99,

6. Zip-It by Bananagrams
Why it's fun:
This crossword race can be played in as little as 20 seconds. Each player takes 12 letter cubes and hurries to form a crossword grid using any side of the cubes. The first player to use all of his or her own cubes calls "Zip!" and scores a point by moving his or her zipper up the included pouch. The game also comes with the new Bananagrams mini-dictionary featuring "weird words that win word games." Bonus: Zip-It is so compact, it's perfect to play on an airplane or train tray when you're on your holiday travels.
Ages: 7 and up, for two players
Get it: $14.95,

7. Dizios by MindWare
Why it's fun: Dominoes take a swirly twist in this fun game where players take turns placing tiles with matching edges. The game includes 71 glossy, thick tiles.
Ages: 6 and up, two or more players
Get it: $19.99,

8. Glee CD Board Game by Cardinal Games
Why it's fun:
If you're a fan of Sue Sylvester, Mr. Shu, Rachel, Finn and the rest of the McKinley High gang, you'll love showing off your knowledge of the hit show. Your teammates must act, sing and dance to try to get you to guess the character they're portraying.
Ages: 4 and up, two or more players
Get it: $14.99,

9. Guess Who? Mix n' Mash by Hasbro
Why it's fun: Players select separate heads, eyes and mouths to create characters without looking at the pictures. The characters are placed on a pedestal base and they then ask ask questions to try to guess the identity of their character -- more than 3,000 combinations are possible.
Ages: 8 and up, for two to four players
Get it: $19.99, at mass retailers and

10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Cheese Touch Board Game by Pressman Toy
Why it's fun:
Love the books and the movie? Make room for the game. Playing as either Greg, Rowley, Fregley, Rodrick, Holly Hills or Manny, you'll move your piece around the board answering questions secretly, including stuff like, "If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?" Guess who said what. But if you're wrong? You get the dreaded cheese.
Ages: 8 and up, for three to six players
Get it: $24,

11. Cranium Scribblish
Why it's fun: Cranium's new game mixes "Telephone" with drawing. Players interpret drawings to create a story line sequence. At the end of the round, players decide which story is the funniest. Earn points by trying to guess what other players have drawn.
Ages: 8 and up, for four to six players
Get it: $19.99, mass retailers and

12. Dinosaur Train All Aboard by Pressman Toy
Why it's fun:
The popular PBS Kids show gets the board game treatment, as players move through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, with Mr. Conductor telling them how many spaces to move. Great for families with preschoolers who don't want to be left out of game night fun.
Ages: 4 and up, for two to six players
Get it: $13.50,

 Family Board Games

Dinosaur Train All Aboard is great for preschoolers. Credit:

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.