Who else is looking for the best video games to play as a family this holiday? To me, these family-friendly games make the best gifts for the holidays, since they provide some safe indoor fun at a time we all really need it. Plus, they pack a lot more play longevity than some other items kids put on their lists (ahem, unicorn slime).
So if you’re buying for a family who you can’t see this Christmas but still want to treat, or just shopping for a gift everyone can enjoy, check these out.
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Related: 7 more family video games we love
Just Dance 2021
If you’re looking for a game that keeps you active while you stay indoors, this is a great choice, and one that Kristen’s family has been loving. There’s plenty for everyone, by the way, not just new songs that some of us (ahem) might not have heard of, ever.
Console: Switch, XBox, Playstation
Mario Kart Deluxe
Nostalgia alert! Decades later this is still one of the most popular — and yes, fun — games out there. Check out their most recent update, Mario Kart Deluxe, which offers the same concept with much faster processing, better graphics, and cooler tracks than Moo Moo Farm.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Sometimes you just need to hit something. And thankfully, this game lets you take out all your aggression on other avatars and not your IRL family members. This one’s been around forever, too, but the ultimate version takes it up a few levels with faster play and new characters, including what appears to be a carnivorous plant (you do you, Smash). This game works well for brand new players and more seasoned ones alike.
Related: Are my kids spending too much time playing video games? We asked an expert
Overcooked: All You Can Eat
If you’ve been lucky enough to grab a PS5 already — psst, tell the rest of us your secret! — check out Overcooked: All You Can Eat. You can also play on XBox or Switch, or play the slightly older edition, Overcooked 2, if you’re still on PS4. Overcooked is a collaborative “couch cooking” game that has you prepare dishes under pressure. This one’s designed to create a little chaos — and a lot of laughter — so maybe not the best for technical players who take their games super seriously.
Console: Playstation, XBox, Switch
I love that this game feels as educational as it does silly. It’s a collaborative puzzle game in which you each play a slip of paper (stay with me here) working together to overcome obstacles, sometimes by snipping each other. It’s more fun than it sounds, trust me.
Animal Crossing has become extremely popular thanks in part to its accessibility: it’s easy to learn and play, even for younger kids. If somehow you haven’t heard about this game yet, know that you live on an island with cute animals while you cultivate your piece of land. Families can both work collaboratively and compete in this one; just be aware that you get only one island per Switch, which means you’ll be stuck together sharing limited resources. That sounds a little too 2020 for my taste, but I’m told this game is totally addictive.
If you love soccer, but have always wanted their to be more vehicles and explosions involved, this is the game for you! It’s simple to learn but tough to master, meaning families will probably derive plenty of use for the price. Just watch out, Rocket League has turned into a legit esport so you might have an aspiring professional gamer on your hands after you introduce this one.
Console: Switch, Playstation, XBox