8 Unexpected Games Real Simple Staffers Swear By

Stuck inside (or staying in by choice)? Try one of these family-friendly, editor-approved boredom busters.


The Settlers of Catan

Photo by catan.com

“Uno is our family’s longstanding go-to game, but this board game—which challenges you to conquer different parts of an unnamed fictional countryside—takes hours to play and is the newest obsession of both my 20-year-old and my 8-year-old. Go figure.” —Kristin van Ogtrop, editor in chief

To buy: $43, amazon.com.



Photo by amazon.com

“My brother-in-law is a giant computer nerd and discovered this smartphone and tablet game that brings everyone together to work as a team to fly an imaginary spaceship. Each person has a different panel on their screen, and each person gets a different instruction—all at the same time. The instruction might pertain to your own controls or to someone else’s, so you have to yell it out and get that person to do it while everyone else is also yelling out instructions, and trying to pay attention to any directed to them. If you miss too many, your ship crashes. It’s ridiculous.” —Rebecca Daly, senior fashion editor

To buy: Free, itunes.apple.com.


Ticket To Ride

Photo by amazon.com

“Our Modern Manners columnist, Catherine Newman, is a board game expert, and I first read about this game on her blog. We gave it to our 6-year-old for Christmas, and it's the kind of game that the whole family can enjoy. There are little wins throughout—like completing a route from Vancouver to El Paso!—so it keeps the energy up. You aren't just slogging along for one big victory. A round takes about an hour, which is the perfect length for a younger kid.” —Elizabeth Pasarella, contributing editor

To buy: $50, amazon.com.


Sheriff of Nottingham

Photo by amazon.com

“This game is really easy to learn and tons of fun. It’s a social game (great for small parties) that involves bluffing, bribery, and storytelling to get contraband past the “Sheriff.” Every player gets a turn as the “Sheriff” so everyone gets a chance to read the other players, accept (or decline!) bribes, and search other players’ goods.” —Christina Nava, art and photo assistant

To buy: $35, amazon.com.



Photo by jet.com

“This is the best game ever for a group of people. It’s an artsy version of the old-school kid’s game “Telephone”—you have to draw what you think is being whispered to you. It’s silly and makes you laugh nonstop. The more players, the better.”—Emily Kinni, photo editor

To buy: $27, jet.com.


Pie Face

Photo by amazon.com

"In this game, you have to put your face in a mask and risk getting splattered with whipped cream. When we first played it at our friends’ house, I was a little worried about messing up my makeup (duh), but we had such a blast, it was worth it. It’s the perfect icebreaker for awkward family gatherings because it makes everyone crack up. The key: using chocolate whipped cream!” —Heather Muir, beauty director

To buy: $20, amazon.com.



Photo by target.com

“For years, my family has been playing this strategy game on rainy Saturdays. It’s good for groups large or small since you can play with any amount of players, from two to 12. The goal is to be the first to get a line of five chips in a row on the board, using a big pile of cards that includes one- and two-eyed Jacks.” —Stephanie Sisco, home editor

To buy: $19, target.com.


Chinese Checkers

Photo by sears.com

“I love this marble game. My great-grandmother, who lived to be 104, had a beautiful version of it in her house, and we played together every time I went to visit—from the time I was in elementary school all the way through mid-college.” —Brigitt Earley, senior editor, RealSimple.com

To buy: $25, amazon.com.