The Christmas and New Year's holidays may look a bit different for many this year, but we still want to create memories and provide fun entertainment for our small groups of family and friends! Since we're stuck indoors a bit more this holiday than in years past, one of our dear Cottonwood followers recommended that we share some of our favorite game ideas. She even took the time to compile her family's favorites to share with you all, too. Isn't that cool? We just love our Cottonwood circle of friends!

Enjoy our combined list of game favorites!





Rook (Hasbro Game Link; Amazon Product Link)

This is our absolute favorite card game and is the most-played game around here. The adults love it, but so do older kids/teenagers.

Friends and family members have been in healthy Rook competitions for decades. Winners crow while losers exclaim, “It’s only a game. We’re winners in life!” The game designers call this a fast-paced game, but our games are NOT fast paced! Many of us are competitive and take the game seriously, while others reminisce, try to visit with other groups, and generally have to be reminded that it’s their turn. For the serious competitors who like to strategize, bid, and work with a partner, this is a great (and addicting) game.



UNO (Mattel Game Link; Amazon Product Link)

This game is a crowd favorite! It is fast-paced and great for kids of all ages. The kids seem to the enjoy the simplicity of the game and relish the "draw four, skip, and reverse" plays. We even like some of the newer twists to the game, especially the UNO Attack version that shoots cards out at you!

"Players take turns matching a card in their hand with the current card shown on top of the deck either by color or number. Special action cards deliver game-changing moments as they help you defeat your opponents. These include Skips, Reverses, Draw Twos, Wild and Draw Four Wild cards. If you can’t make a match, you must draw from the central pile! And when you’re down to one card, don’t forget to shout 'UNO!' The first player to rid themselves of all the cards in their hand before their opponents wins."


Trouble (Hasbro Game Link; Amazon Product Link)

This game has been played so many times at my house that I've had to buy replacement pieces a few times now. This game is fun for smaller groups (up to 4), and it's very easy for the younger kids to join in the fun.

"Pop into the racing, chasing game where everyone's in Trouble! Set up your pegs and then hit the Pop-O-Matic die roller. Depending on what you roll, you can move your pegs to the Start space, move your pegs forward – or watch other players move while you can't! Each of your pegs has to go all the way around the board to the Finish space, but watch out – if another player's peg lands on the same space as yours, your peg has to start over. The player who gets all 4 pegs into the Finish space wins!"


Mexican Train Game (Amazon Product Link)

You'll need to sit on the floor or find a big table for this game! This is another game that is beloved by kids of all ages because it's easy and fun to play! The game is recommended for ages 8+, but we have taught kids as young as 4 to play.

"Mexican Train is a modern version of Dominoes, played with 91 double-12 dominoes. Because of its simplicity, it can be played by nearly anyone, anywhere. Depending on the type of game you play, it can last from a single, 20-minute game to a 12 round game lasting hours. It can also be played using double 6 or double 9 tiles for shorter games."



Yahtzee (Hasbro Game Link; Amazon Product Link)

This game is in my top 3 favorites! I played this game so many times in college with friends. I guess it's one of my favs because it doesn't require too much strategy. Just roll the dice and hope for the right combinations! :-)

"Yahtzee is the classic dice game with a unique combination of luck and strategy. Every game is an exciting challenge to rack up the highest score. Seriously high scores come from multiple Yahtzee bonus points, but your luck could change with every roll! Got 3 of a kind and feeling lucky? You might want to push your luck and risk it all for a Yahtzee. But don't forget, you have to fill in a score on every turn. So make it count, or you'll bust out!"



Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder Game Link; Amazon Product Link)

This game can have mixed reviews. Either you like it or you do not like it. But, if you like it, you REALLY like it! We have played it many times with family. It does take a little time to learn and is best for teenagers and adults.

"Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who can fulfill their Destination Tickets by connecting two distant cities, and to the player who builds the longest continuous railway."


BANANAGRAMS (BANANAGRAMS Game Link; Amazon Product Link)

This game is great for 2 players or a medium-sized group. (Be sure to buy the Double BANANAGRAMS if you're playing with a larger group.) It's like Scrabble but is much quicker since it's simultaneously played. There's no complicated scoring either!

"BANANAGRAMS is the fast and frantic word game enjoyed by millions! Players and their opponents aim to use all of their letters to build a word grid in a race to the finish. The first player to use all of their tiles is crowned 'Top Banana'!"


Cranium (Amazon Product Link)

Cranium is like a variety show! It highlights different types of games - spelling cards, singing cards, acting cards, trivia cards, etc. It's definitely a favorite to play with boys against girls.

"Cranium is the award-winning board game that brings out surprising talents in people and gives everyone a chance to shine. Object of the game: To circle the board victoriously - sketching, sculpting, acting, humming, and puzzle-solving as you go."


Balderdash (Mattel Game Link; Amazon Product Link)

This game is so entertaining! We have many inside jokes that have originated from playing this game! (For the select few who have played this with us in the past few years...does Golila ring a bell with you...hahaha?!?!) You'll love this game!

"Balderdash™ game features interesting, unbelievably true content and categories about people, words, initials, and movies. Once a category is chosen and the question is read, each player writes down what they think the definition or answer to the question is. Everyone then votes on which card they believe to contain the true answer. The real fun begins when the phony definitions are read along with the legitimate ones! Points are earned by fooling other players into believing your bluff as well as choosing the real answer. You will laugh out loud as you hear the hilarious and creative definitions!"


Mancala (Amazon Product Link)

This is a quick-moving, 2 player game that is easy to learn. It does require a special board with stones/beads. You could also make your own if you're feeling creative.

Mancala is one of the oldest known games, with some evidence pointing to versions of the game played in ancient Egypt. This game is played with small stones, beans, or seeds and rows of holes and is a classic game of judgment, strategy, and patience. 


24 (Game Link)

24 is a quick-playing math game for all of the special competitive nerds out there wanting to keep up with their quick computing math skills.

There are nine editions of this game: Add/Subtract Primer, Multiply/Divide Primer, Factors/Multiples, "Original" Single Digits, Double Digits, Variables, Fractions/Decimals, Integers, and Algebra/Exponents. 



Rummy (Bicycle Game Link)

Have a deck of cards? You can play Rummy! It's super easy to learn, and there are many different variations of the game out there (like gin rummy, Liverpool rummy, etc.).



Scattergories (Hasbro Game Link; Amazon Product Link)

This game keeps your brain very active while searching for answers that all begin with the same letter. You might need some caffeine to keep you going with this game! This game often elicits hilarious conversations and disputes as players try to talk other players into accepting questionable answers.

"Team up in this fun, fast-paced game and rack your brain for items that fit the category. Can you think of articles of clothing, things you fold, or things at the beach that start with S? You score points when you come up with things that no one else does. But you've only got seconds to come up with them! The more creative your answers, the more points you score!"



Family Feud (Amazon Product Link)

Do you enjoy the Family Feud TV show? Bring the show right into your home! You'll need to select a moderator and divide into teams. This is guaranteed quick fun for a large group. It's fun to play family vs. family or boys vs. girls.


Dutch Blitz (Amazon Product Link)

You should definitely get your hands on this special deck of cards and play this fun and very fast-paced game with your friends. Beware of a player who slams down cards, making it impossible for others to concentrate! :-)

"Perfect for family game nights, or to play with a group of good friends, you'll enjoy spirited competition as you try to get rid of your 10-card Blitz pile before anybody else. Each player has her own deck of forty cards, with cards 1-10 in four colors; red and blue cards show a Pennsylvania Dutch boy, while yellow and green cards show a Pennsylvania Dutch girl. Each deck has a different symbol on the back to aid with card sorting between rounds."