So, right about now you’re probably thinking about what you’re going to do for Thanksgiving. Or maybe you aren’t! Maybe you’re thinking about what to do for Friendsgiving.
I won’t be visiting family for Thanksgiving, so I’m left with the question of what to do with this holiday! My roommate, like me, doesn’t have any family in the area.
But you know what we do have? Pretty china, a nice-sized dining room, and a general enjoyment of feeding other people.
So we’re hosting our own Friendsgiving this year. However, whether it’s friends or family, what matters is there’s going to be good food and great memories. And board games, of course.
Which got me thinking — what would be a good Thanksgiving board game? Naturally, the proper choice of game for any holiday involving unity, gratitude, and togetherness is something that’s going to pit everyone against each other and possibly end a friendship or two.
Yeah, I have a twisted sense of humor.
So I did some thinking, went through my board game collection, and poked around online to come up with some great suggestions of what to play. Here’s what I came up with:
Top 5 Thanksgiving Board Games
1. Risk: Game of Thrones
Winter is coming…
Literally and figuratively. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) But that means this particular variant of Risk is perfect for a Thanksgiving Game Night! For one, Risk is your classic rage-quit game. Two, with this variation, it’s not going to come down to a long, drawn-out battle between whoever holds Asia and Australia, because the game is set in Westeros and Essos. Yeah, there’s actually two game boards here, and rules designed specifically for a two-player variant (which you probably won’t need now, but definitely later).
Just be sure to block off a few hours. It’s probably best to play this one after dinner.
Players: 2-7 | Playtime: 2-4 hours | Ages: 18+
2. Risk Legacy
While we’re on the topic of Risk… Risk Legacy is another great alternative. In my experience, the odds are still somewhat likely it could wind up as a battle between Asia and Australia…. but there’s unlockable content and rules that only apply after certain events occur. Plus, the players get to modify the board to their advantage, so there’s potential to completely annihilate one or the other. The games also play more quickly than traditional Risk.
The one problem with Risk Legacy is that you really need to have a group of regular players. Otherwise, some of the bonuses become a moot point. But still, if you generally get together with the same people on a holiday, this could become a tradition.
Players: 3-5 | Playtime: 1 hour | Ages: 13+
There’s nothing to get everyone’s blood boiling like a game of bluffing and deduction — enter [redacted], a spy game set in the Cold War era. The mission is simple: Infiltrate the embassy, find the intel, and escape. Or, blow up the other player’s helicopter so they can’t. Along the way you’ll search rooms to find the dossier and try to figure out everyone else’s allegiances — covertly, of course. Even combat takes place in secret.
So choose your alliances carefully, make sure the other players don’t blow up your escape route, and don’t forget the martini. (Shaken, not stirred, right?)
Players: 2-6 | Playtime: 45 minutes | Ages: 12+
Dixit is a bit different than most game night fare because it features storytelling as a main component. Everyone has a hand of illustrated cards. On their turn, a player becomes the Storyteller — and they have to tell a story about their card. It could be pretty much anything you want: an impromptu poem, a song, a short story, even a sound. Then everyone plays a card from their own hand that matches the storyteller’s tale as close as possible. The point of the game is to guess which card is the storyteller’s. So you get points for guessing correctly — but you also get points when people vote for your card.
This is one of those cerebral games where it definitely helps to know your friends pretty well, but it’s sure to spark some debate and plenty of controversy!
Players: 3-6 | Playtime: 30 minutes | Ages: 8+
I’ve mentioned Timeline as a top pick for other game nights, too, but it’s not really something to stand alone. It’s more of a filler game, something you play between other games (or while waiting for dessert). Everyone has a hand of cards with different historical moments on them, and the goal is to lay out all the events in chronological order, in a single shared timeline. The first person to lay down all their cards in the correct order wins. If you place a card wrongly, you draw another card.
What I like about Timeline is there are several variations catering to all types of interests. American History would be quite appropriate here, but there’s also Music & Cinema, Historical Events, Discoveries, and Diversity.
This certainly isn’t a table-flipping game, but it’s sure to get everyone talking (smack).
Players: 2-8 | Playtime: 15 minutes | Ages: 15+
Other Thanksgiving Board Games to Consider
The honorable mentions here aren’t honorable mentions because they’re not quite enough, but more because they’re classics, or I’ve talked about them at length already. Don’t worry, they’re sure to get people fired up.
Settlers of Catan
Wood for sheep, anyone? This classic gateway game is a great way to introduce someone new to gaming, and it’s a staple in most people’s collections. With the expansion, you can accommodate up to 6 players.
Players: 3-6 | Playtime: 1-2 hours | Ages: 10+
It’s the original rage-quitting, friendship ending game. Boardwalk, Park Place, Jail, and plenty of underhanded deals and betrayals. And of course, the eternal question of who gets to play as the car.
Players: 2-8 | Playtime: 3 hours | Ages: 8+
Professor Plum in the Library with the candlestick. Right? Only one way to find out. But even if you manage to play the game civilly, there’s the inevitable fight over who gets to be Miss Scarlet.
Players: 3-6 | Playtime: 45 minutes | Ages: 8+
Munchkin is the ultimate game of lying, cheating, and screwing over your friends. There are a tons of variations of Munchkin, and you can actually mix and match them for a fun take on a classic. How long it drags on really depends on how mean you and your friends want to be.
Players: 3-6 | Playtime: 1-3 hours | Ages: 10+
Thanksgiving Survival Tips
Deciding what game (or games) to play is the easy part of Friendsgiving. Fortunately, I’ve got some survival tips for you.
First, plan ahead. I don’t just mean the menu and who’s bringing what. Figure out how you’re going to keep food warm (or cold) as needed, or what time something needs to go in the oven. If you’re working with limited kitchen space, think about how to work around that, too. For example, you can stick coolers outside to keep things cold — especially drinks!
Second, I suggest you get a kitchen buddy, someone you trust to help you out. I normally recommend recipes that require minimal kitchen time but frankly, that’s not going to happen here. Have someone who knows their way around a kitchen, someone who generally keeps a level head. If others are willing, you can put them to work with specific tasks — salad prep, making drinks, keeping the appetizers stocked, etc.
Finally, figure out ahead of time where you plan on playing games. Will you clear the dining table after dinner, or gravitate toward the living room? That’ll partly be determined by how many people you have coming over and how much space you have — not to mention which games you’re playing!
Setting a Table
Like any 20-something woman with a Pinterest account, I love the idea of elaborate holiday tablescapes. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at them. They’re also time consuming, and potentially expensive. And then you have to figure out where to store everything when you’re done, assuming you plan to reuse the setting. That’s time, money, and effort I’d much rather spend on games and food!
So go ahead and create a tablescape if you want. Otherwise, just focus on setting the table. Today’s Creative Life has a great guide for that:
Some suggestions: A tablecloth will add some festivity to the setting and make cleanup easier — especially one that you can just wipe down. Be sure there’s enough room for everyone to sit comfortably at the table with place settings and everything! A small folding table appended to your dining table can help with seating if you’re low on space.
Your Thanksgiving Board Game Menu
I don’t have Thanksgiving recipe recommendations, for once. There are too many family recipes to compete with, and frankly, new recipes on holidays are dangerous business. Stick to what you know best!
Or, go potluck. Have everyone plan on bringing a dish, and coordinate with them, because no one really wants 5 green bean casseroles. Be aware of what you need for oven space, what you can reheat in the microwave, etc.
To Serve Appetizers or Not
Frankly, the decision to serve appetizers kind of depends on when people are coming over and when you’ll be serving dinner. If this is an all-day event with dinner later in the evening, plan on having some sort of munchies for people to graze. Keep it simple with options you can make ahead of time, or don’t require any cook time at all.
I’m always a fan of cracker and cheese plates. They’re easy enough: a couple types of crackers, some cheese, some sort of cured meat, and you’re all good. You can also set out some grapes and even some nuts, and they’ll complement it well. (For suggestions on choosing a mix of cheeses, I like this guide.)
How Much Food to Serve
This is the hard part. Leftovers are to be expected, but you don’t want so much that You don’t know what to do with them. So consider asking friends to bring their own Tupperware to take home with them.
Chickabug has a really good suggestions for how much food to serve at a party (or in this case, Friendsgiving), so check out her handy infographic!
Something important to consider is what dietary restrictions your guests have, if any. It can be difficult to work around a bunch of special requests, so having your friends bring a guaranteed safe dish for themselves will help alleviate the stress and worry.
Breaking the Ice
The thing about hosting these parties is you’re very likely to bring together a couple of people who don’t know each other. So if you’re hosting a group of friends who don’t know each other well, break out the alcohol to ease some of the tension. Wine, beer, or cocktail — your choice!
Encourage people to mingle, too! Set the mood with some background music. The nice thing is, games are a great way help break the ice and encourage people to talk without the awkwardness of getting to know each other. Whatever you do, make sure you and your friends have fun!
What are your plans for Friendsgiving? What games are you planning to play? Leave us a comment and let us know!