Christmas Gift Ideas (spoiler alert: they’re all games!!)

Christmas is a time for getting together – eating, drinking and being merry. Whether you’re looking for a way of getting the family communicating this Christmas; trying to find common ground between a 5 year old, a 14 year old and a 90 year old or just fancy a change from your usual Christmas activities – these games will be just the ticket.
A couple for all the family.
Geistes Blitz
One of the greatest things about Geistes Blitz is that it is a very levelling game -just because you are an adult, you do not have the upper hand here. This appeals to the truly competitive as you can beat your 5 year old with a clear conscience and the less competitive who often ‘adjust things’ to avoid younger family members losing heart.
The name literally translates to spirit lightning and you need lightning reflexes to win at this one. Be the first person to grab the right object to win the card, get the most cards to win. If the object is shown exactly on the card then it’s easy you just grab the green bottle, the blue book – whichever the card depicts. However, the majority of the cards are not so straightforward. Instead you must grab the object which is not represented on the card either by object or colour. E.g. in the cards shown above, reading left to right – it is the grey mouse, blue book and grey mouse again. After a while bizarrely it is the cards that show the object in the correct colour that people stumble over.
It’s a pleasingly tactile game and as you are grabbing the objects rather than the cards, as you might in similar games, it promises to remain in good playable condition for a long time.
Plays 2-8 people
Time 10-15 minutes Age 8+ (we have played it with ages 5+ successfully)
Price £13.99
This game is also about reactions but it is your ability to accurately solve a challenge first that is tested. This is another leveller as I have found that different people favour different challenges. Cortex claims to challenge each part of your brain and that certainly seems true. It’ll get those little grey cells moving again after you’ve had too much Christmas dinner.
The Challenges
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This guy
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Colour challenge – identify the word written in matching colour
Maze – Find the way out
Dexterity – Touch the right part of your face with the fingers shown (this is my personal nemesis)
Duplicates – Spot the duplicate image
Memory – as soon as you can confidently recite the five items shown, cover the card and go for it!
Spatial Awareness – work out which shape fits in the gap (some of these are 3d shapes!)
Frequency – spot the image which features most
Touch – relying on touch alone, identify the card. This is worth two brain pieces – even the games designers admit this is a tough one!
When you win two of any challenge type you swap the two cards for a brain piece. The first to complete their four piece ‘brain jigsaw’ wins! *If you dispensed with the brain pieces and used pen and paper instead there is no reason this game can’t play up to 8.
Plays 2-4*
Time 15-20 minutes
Age 8+
Price £13.99
Outfoxed – One for the little legs.
Work together to solve the clues, reveal suspects and deduce which dastardly fox stole Mrs Plumpert’s Pie. As a team you need to decide whether to roll for clues or suspects and if you don’t roll the required symbols the fox starts to make their escape! This is a fun introduction to co-operative board games or just to board games in general.
Co-operative games are good for every age but particularly for players who may struggle with waiting for their turn or find losing difficult. Your team unites against a common enemy or challenge, in this case – the wily fox. While there is turn taking with the dice, movement of pieces and use of the Evidence Scanner (which everyone wants to use!), because everyone is involved each turn there is no waiting around. So you can reinforce important skills in patience and team work without the frustration. It should offer a calm time in an otherwise chaotic day. Especially if you’ve just played Geistes Blitz!
It’s a beautiful looking game with nice, quirky components. Everybody wants to move the fox and check the Evidence Scanner – especially the adults who are just helping and making sure it’s done right. After all it’s good for grown ups to practice team work and turn taking too!
Plays 4
Time 15mins
Ages 5+
Price £17.99
The Logo Game – One for the Grown Ups
I finally caved in and got a copy of this because whenever I went into a board games cafe someone was playing it and in some cases queuing for it. Since I added it to the Cards or Die Menu it’s been a popular choice at games nights.
I think the quiz element of it appeals to lots of people and the mixture of question types based on a topic we are all surrounded by makes it fun and accessible. Younger children struggle as some of the logos are older or for products they’re not familiar with. Having said that as you can play in teams not just as individuals some children may enjoy being part of a team. On the whole though – it’s one to save for the grown ups. A lot of my board games are popular because of their nostalgic value and I suspect The Logo game plays into that too. You can spread the Christmas Cheer by telling the children how chocolate bars used to be bigger!
Plays 2- 16
Time 40 minutes
Ages 12+
A Retro Classic – Outburst!
It wouldn’t be Cards or Die if there wasn’t some element of retro. Even though, it sticks in my craw a bit to call a game made in the 80s retro even I have to accept that it was a long time ago now. Despite my advancing years I struggle on some of the categories – the political figure ones and things like men’s names. It gives us a glimpse back to life in the 80s and a chance to beat the youngsters! Oh God I am old aren’t I? When did this happen? (These are rhetorical questions – under no circumstances should you answer them in the comments).
You can tell that Outburst! is an enduring classic because Hasbro re-issued it and as far as I can tell it’s the same game but with more up to date categories. But if you can get an original from the charity shop then so much the better. The age on the Hasbro version says 16+ In the version I have it is mainly that the categories are suggestive rather than that the answers are rude. However, there are some cards I remove if younger players are present – things you can buy from a vending machine for instance. Outburst challenges each team to name up to 10 ‘things’ in a category – foods served at a dinner party, things made of elastic… But the tricky part is – you have to name the exact things on the card or you don’t score. Roll the dice to determine bonus answers and the number of spaces to move if you hit the bonus answer. It’s all wonderfully arbitrary. You may well be able to name 25 winter sports but if only 2 of them are on the card you score 2! It is frustrating and entertaining. In many ways it encapsulates the essence of Christmas as it is best enjoyed whilst ‘in drink’!
Plays 4 – 10
Time 20 minutes
Ages 16+
If you’re looking for a unique gift experience for family or friends, why not treat them to a Cards or Die board games night. Get in touch for details.

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