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Best Board Games of 2021

During the holidays, games aren't just for reindeer. With long vacation days stretching ahead either at home or at grandma's, stocking up on board games can help keep the winter blues and kid boredom at bay. Here, EW's Parental Guidance recommends our five favorites for families with kids of all ages:

AGES 3+

Best Board Games of 2021
Credit: Funko Games

Disney Hidden Mickeys by Funko

When my daughter was old enough for board games but not yet able to read, I struggled to find things that didn't involve chutes, ladders, or plodding mindlessly through Licorice Lagoon. I love that Hidden Mickeys engages children mentally and physically as they hunt for the Markers or search for Mickey on the cards. Bonus: If you have more than one child playing, they can practice teamwork by finding Mickey together.

Buy it! $15 at amazon.com

AGES 6+

Best Board Games of 2021
Credit: Zygomatic

Rory's Story Cubes: Harry Potter

If you're traveling this holiday and want something you and the family can easily pack up and play en route, Rory's Story Cubes is the way to go. With a quick roll of the Harry Potter-themed dice, children unleash their imagination as they weave a tale that could very well be greater than the source material. As a parent, I love that Story Cubes encourages kids to create their own stories without them needing to know how to read or write. If your family is less into Hogwarts and more into galaxies far, far away, there is also a Star Wars version.

Buy it! $15 at asmodee.com

AGES 7+

Best Board Games of 2021
Credit: Ravensburger

Pokémon Labyrinth by Ravensburger

It's almost as hard to believe that Ravensburger's Labyrinth turned 35 this year as it is to believe that Pokémon turned 25. And now the two storied franchises have been brought together in one epic game! Whether your kids have a passing interest in Pokémon or are like mine and currently sleeping on Pikachu sheets, it's hard not to enjoy finding adorable monsters as you maneuver the constantly shifting board. With relatively quick gameplay (20-30 minutes), plan for this to stay a family favorite long after they've stopped trying to catch 'em all.

Buy it! $35 at amazon.com

AGES 10+

Best Board Games of 2021
Credit: Big G Creative

Ghosted

I know, I know, this isn't a pop culture-themed game, but it's so much fun for my family to play, I had to add it. Think Clue but edgier. Instead of the haughty Mrs. Peacock and stuffy Professor Plum, suspects in this "game of boo-dunnit" include Mr. Redacted and Margo Meanders. And, instead of a candlestick or a revolver, murder weapons include things like a pickleball paddle and a selfie stick. But the best part is figuring out the motive of your death. Did you leave a one-star review or maybe you hoarded toilet paper? My 6-year-old couldn't stop laughing, even though she didn't fully understand how smooth jazz could conceivably lead to someone's demise.

Buy it! $20 at target.com

Best Board Games of 2021
Credit: Buffalo Games

The Golden Ticket game

This is the game Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory-obsessed me would've wanted as a child. From the Wonka Bars and their wrappers to the Golden Tickets themselves, the game pieces are such fantastic replicas it'll be hard not to lose pieces to your kids as they abscond with them to recreate their own Willy Wonka narrative. You'll also find a "board" with scenes true to the Gene Wilder masterpiece that will lead players to a scrumdidilyumptious time as they all clamor to get as many Wonka Bars as they can, thereby increasing their chances of finding a Golden Ticket and winning the game.

Buy it! $20 at target.com

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