Now that Season 3 of the pandemic is here and the chilly temps have arrived, there’s no better way to spend your time at home than with some new board games and puzzles. So we rounded up the ones that’ll give your classic faves (though there’s no shame in Monopoly and Catan) a run for their money. We’ve got strategy games, card games, memory games, ones you can play over dinner and drinks, and some you can even play solo. Come one, come all, the fun is here.
Codenames for the win (IYKYK). Just like in the regular version, you’ll use one-word clues to guide your team to victory — except this time everything’s magic-themed. The more Hogwarts references, the better. Accio, winners trophy, please. ($23.66, Amazon)
A fun card sesh all about “The Office”? It’s a match made in heaven. Your group will be in tears — the happy kind, of course — as you get your crew to match the show’s famous one-liners with meme-able snapshots of the Dunder Mifflin crew. ($29.99, Amazon)
*Olivia Rodrigo voice* Do you get déjà vu? In this one, teamwork makes the dream work. There are four diseases that are threatening to take over your board game world (casual), and your team must find the cure and work together before it’s too late. Each person will have a different set of unique skills that’ll benefit your group’s mission. Put ’em to the test and save the world. It can be played with two to four players total, and the average game takes around 45 mins. So it makes the perfect post-dinner game sesh. ($34.88, Amazon)
The Chameleon’s great for big groups and fast play. In it, everyone knows the secret word — except for the one with the Chameleon card. You’ll use hidden codes, words, and literal finger pointing (it’s part of the game, people) to figure out who’s guilty and lying. The goal is to blend in and coast by without getting caught. You can play with up to eight players and it goes pretty quick, so you can do round after round. The game includes 40 topic cards, 14 code cards, dice, stickers, and everything you’ll need to play successfully. ($18.50, Amazon)
Okay, it’s not technically a board game in the classic sense, but you’ll get erasable sketch books, dry erase markers, and a clean-up cloth to play. Here’s how it works: You draw a version of a word or phrase and then pass your board on to the next person and they’ll have to guess what word you drew. They’ll next get a stab to draw and it keeps on going. Aka Telephone sans the whispering in people’s ears. It’s a super fun way to break the ice or channel inside jokes with your nearest and dearest. 1-800-yes-please. ($28.99, Amazon)
Wordwise requires you to think fast on your feet. Simply roll your dice (you’ll get lettered dice and numbered dice) and create as many words as you can in one minute. The person who comes up with the most wins. It includes a scorepad, mini pencil, sand timer, instructions, and a portable storage tin that makes it convenient to bring on the road, in the car, or wherever. Andddd go. ($16.35, Amazon)
Living solo? No problemo. In this one, you start with printed cards face down in a grid. The set comes with 52 cards (so 26 distinctive pairs), which you aim to match up by flipping cards over one by one. Once you do, you’ll start to memorize where they are on your table so you can match the pairs up. It’s mostly a game against yourself or the clock. See how fast your brain works and can pick up on where all the matches are. Challenge = accepted. ($17.06, Amazon)
This classic is a race against everyone (up to eight people) to build crossword grids made up of words, similar to Scrabble. It’s easy to play but pretty addicting once you get going. Plus all the pieces fit into a small (and fun) banana bag, which makes transporting it around simple and mess-free. PS: You can play this one alone too, so if no one’s around and you’re looking for a tech-free way to spend your time, look no further. ($14.99, Amazon)
Steer clear of tiny tables when doing this extra-large puzzle. Real ones know to start with the border first then work your way through the middle. We love this one because each piece is cut differently from the rest (more about their random-cut piece process here). And if you need a break from this challenging one that features vintage matchbooks, check out the back of the puzzle box for some added fun. PS: For every puzzle sold, the co will donate $1 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Do it, do it. ($38, Le Puzz)
Once you solve one side, take it apart, flip all the pieces, and start over to do the other. Each 500-piece puzzle is an aerial pic of a Hawaiian beach from popular photographer Gray Malin. The pieces are printed with no-glare, nontoxic inks and should come without all that yucky, loose puzzle dust that sometimes accompanies newly manufactured puzzles. ($20.39, Amazon)
Two truths and a whole lot of lies. In Balderdash, someone selects a word from the deck of cards. And each player has to write what they think the definition of the word is. You can write the actual answer, silly answers, an inside joke everyone will get — whatever you desire — and you call people’s bluffs along the way. You can play on and on, and the more the drinks flow, the wilder the answers will get. ($14.97, Amazon)
For anyone not in the know, it’s basically an IRL version of Mad Libs where guests throw down funny or ironic answers to a selected card with a fill-in-the-blank on it. This version is free of adult content and safe to play with kiddos ages 8+. Featuring 600 laugh-out-loud-worthy cards, it makes the perfect addition to any family gathering. ($24.86, Amazon)
This lucite cube holds 135 clever questions that’ll prompt some thought-provoking chats. Whether you use it to break the ice with people you don’t know that well, bring it to your next girls' night in, or keep it out on your own dinner table to use with your S.O., you’ll never have to experience awkward silence again. ($25, Uncommon Goods)
Because working your brain requires brain food. It’s as simple as that. This double-duty board acts as a vessel for your fave snacks (think: cheese, olives, dates) and as a playing ground for your game of backgammon or chess. You’ll get the laser-etched serving tray — on one side there are 64 squares for chess, and on the other, 24 triangles for backgammon — 15 red and 15 blue cheese picks, 34 chess-piece-like picks (17 black, 17 white), three backgammon dice, and instructions cards. Cheese to F4 please. ($39.99, Uncommon Goods)
This set comes in a canvas bag so it makes for easy storage and travel (whether from room to room or for stashing in your suitcase). If you’ve never played before, Rummikub involves using little tiles to create runs or sets based on the numbers and colors of the tiles you get. Like Uno, the goal is to get rid of your tiles first. You’ll get more strategic the more you play — and trust us when we say it can get super competitive. ($19.99, Amazon)
Friendly competition, coming right up. This modern set comes with 60 colored marbles, a playing board, and 100% recycled packaging. It’s the type of set that’ll make your friends and fam ask where you got it. Plus it makes a wonderful housewarming gift. ($25, Free People)
This classic game can be played with those ages 3+ and doesn’t require a whole lot of brain power. It’s simple: Once your sticks are all mixed together on a table or floor, your goal is to remove them one by one without making any others move (sort of like Jenga). The wooden sticks come in bright, aesthetically pleasing colors that you won’t mind leaving out. ($16.50, Nordstrom)
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