During the summer I usually let my kids stay up late, but we ditch the screens and play board games together instead. So, each year I keep my eye on the Spiel des Jahres award-winning board games to find the best new board games that are guaranteed to be interesting for the whole family. Sorry, Chutes and Ladders.

This German-based award that literally means “game of the year” is basically the Pulitzer prize of board games. They consider games from all over the world, and we’re never disappointed with their choices. So, we wanted to share the winners that were announced today, because it just so happens we have loved playing them with our family too.

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Related: Clear the table for 11 of the best board games for older kids. (Hooray for outgrowing Candy Land!)

Codenames: Spiel des Jahre's Best Board Game of 2016. And we agree!

This year’s award for best board game went to Codenames, and let me just say, my family is obsessed with it. This fun, quick party game that you can squeeze in before bedtime, is great for both the kids (I’d say about 8 and up) and adults in our family. The object is to get your team to guess a word on a card; for example, if your card says turkey you might give the clue Thanksgiving.  But there’s all kinds of strategizing and twists that make it fun.

Also, the game setup is so simple that it’s easy to take with you on vacation or even to the pool for some fun during rest period. And hey, if you can’t find anyone to play with you, download the Codenames game app for some quick fun on the go.


Related: 8 of our favorite family board games for 6 or more players of all ages. Just in time for those big holiday gatherings.

The best kids' board game of the year: Stone Age Junior. We can't wait to play it!

Spiel des Jahres also gives an award for the best kids’ game, and this year the winner was Stone Age Junior. Unlike so many preschool games that are all about rolling a dice and doing what it tells you — all luck and no strategy — Stone Age Junior actually teaches planning, patience, and teamwork as kids collect resources (pots, berries, fish) which can be traded in for a house. The first person to build three houses wins.

If you outgrow Stone Age Junior, you can move on to Stone Age, the more advanced adult version of the game that kids should be able to pick up on pretty quickly.

Here’s to lots more fun on too-hot-for-outside summer days, rainy afternoons, and family game nights

You can see all the winners (in German so click that handy “translation” button) on the Spiel des Jarhes website.

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