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Best board games to play with the family this Christmas

Done Monopoly and Uno to death? Mix up your festive afternoons with these family-friendly games from Norfolk biz Zatu. Sore losers need not apply.

Best for groups: Wavelength

This is a great pick for larger gatherings (you’ll need minimum six players) and is guaranteed to spark discussion. You’ll split into teams of two and spin the wheel under which is a hidden ‘target’, which will land somewhere on the wheel. One member of the first team takes a peek and then is given a card with two opposing ideas on it, e.g. hot/cold, good smell/bad smell, and they then have to give their team a clue to try and get them to place a marker in the right place on the wheel – points are awarded for accuracy. It’s a lot easier to play than explain (honest), and is recommended for slightly older kids aged 14 and up – the concept will be lost on littles.

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Best for simple fun: Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza

Kids will love the silliness of this game, and there are blessedly few rules to learn so you can easily pick it up. All you do is take turns putting down cards, each saying the words ‘taco,’ ‘cat’, ‘goat’, ‘cheese’, and (you guessed it) ‘pizza’. If at any point the word you say matches the card you put down, you all have to slap your hands down on the pile – last one to slap has to take all the cards played so far. Keep going until you’ve gotten rid of your pile – simples.

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Best for music lovers: Top of the Pops

If you always loved the singing rounds in Never Mind the Buzzcocks, then this is the game for you. Rounds include naming as many songs to fit a certain theme under a time limit (e.g. song titles with colours or food in), getting your team to guess an artist giving only one-word clues, and playing the included kazoo (really!) to get them to guess a song. Songs and artists range from the 1960s to 2000s, so it’s one a range of ages can enjoy.

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Best for total chaos: Throw Throw Burrito

Best played in a room without breakables, this crazy dodgeball card game sees you throwing foam burritos at other players to try and eliminate them. The rules are simple – everyone is trying to make a set of three animals in their hand by picking up and discarding cards at breakneck speed. If you pick up a burrito card, all hell breaks loose and you might end up in a brawl, war or duel (there are different rules for each!). Warning: this game WILL result in screaming.

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Best for wordsmiths: Codenames

This is a classic team game and one that doesn’t take too long to play (crucial when everyone’s on the brink of a carb coma). Split into two teams, with one person on each team acting as Spymaster. Each Spymaster is trying to get their team to guess correct locations on the board that correspond to a word, but they can only give one-word clues. If the rest of the team guesses the wrong location, they might give points to the other team – or worse, uncover a deadly assassin that spells an instant game over. There’s some brainwork involved here, so one for ages 14 and up.

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Best for simple and sweet: Go Nuts for Donuts

This one wins points for the cutest artwork ever, but it’s also a great option for ages 8 and up while still being engaging enough for adults. Between 2-6 players try to score points by collecting sets of donuts with different values – but if two or more players attempt to nab the same pastry, no-one gets it! It’s easy to learn and games can take less than ten minutes – the very definition of short and sweet.

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Best for teamwork: Pandemic

Perhaps too close to the bone for some, this co-op game sees you team up with other players to defeat a (what else?) global pandemic. Two to four players choose roles such as scientists, medics and quarantine experts, all with different skills, and try to find cures for and eventually eliminate four diseases ravaging the planet. Escapism it is not, but it IS a fun and immersive way to spend an hour or two on Boxing Day.

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