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20 Family Friendly Board Games, all Under $20

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If you know me, even at all, you know that I LOVE to play games.  I love the competition, I love the laughs, and I love spending an evening with my favorite people……while not having to spend any money.

Our little family has Family Game Night every Sunday evening.  I brought this tradition with me from my childhood and I have loved sharing it with my children.  I will usually pop some popcorn and cut up some fruit while my kids pick out a pile of fun games.  Everyone has their favorites and we try to play as many as we can.

I also love to get together with friends and family members for game nights.  The great things about games is that their is always something for everyone.  With hundreds and hundreds of games to choose from, every personality and preference can find a favorite.

Games are easy to share with others, making it so cheap for everyone involved.  Think about it!  If everyone bought just one game, and then gets together to share the games, you get to enjoy multiple games for the price of one!

Thrift stores are also loaded with games.  I can almost always find a high quality game for just a couple of bucks at my local thrift store.  They may not be the “new on the market” games, but they are always big favorites!

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I wanted to share a few of my families favorites game so that you can start your own regular game nights.  Each of these games are under $20 and family friendly!

Strategy Games

Citadels

Citadels is a quick game to play and easy to learn.  It has the perfect mix of strategy and lightheartedness.

Citadels Classic

Sheriff of Nottingham

If you are a good bluffer you will probably be great at Sheriff of Nottingham.  I am personally not a good bluffer, so this game is a little stressful for me!  But, I do really enjoy playing it.  It requires some strategy, the ability to bluff, and a little bit of skill.

Arcane Wonders Sheriff of Nottingham

Bohnanza

Bohnanza is a great game for older kids/teens.  It is a game of trading “beans” to plant in your bean fields.  It takes a little practice to learn the game, but once understood it is very addicting and has a fun strategy involved.

Rio Grande Games Bohnanza

CodeNames

Codenames is a very popular game, and for good reason.  You play on teams and use word association to try to get your teammates to guess which words you are thinking of.  It feels a little complicated when you first open the box, but it is actually really easy to learn.

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island is interesting because you do not compete against each other.  It’s a strategy game, but everyone is on the same team.  Together, as a team you try to “save” the island before it sinks.  It can get a little stressful, but I love when our little family is forced (encouraged???) to work together.

Forbidden Island Card Game

 

Party Games

Watch Ya Mouth

Watch Ya Mouth is such a fun party game.  It is impossible to play without laughing the entire time.  Promise.  It is probably one of the funniest games I have ever played.

Mad Gab

It’s easy for all ages to play Mad Gab.  The game play involves scrambled words that you sound out to try to guess the correct phrase.  It’s so funny to listen to your teammates trying to guess the phrase while they sound the words out over and over.

Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples Junior is one of our families very favorite games.  It’s so easy to play and the rounds go very quickly.  Even my 4 year old enjoyed playing his cards and trying to keep up with the game.  I love that it is a game for everyone, even people who don’t like games!

Catch Phrase

My favorite party game is Catch Phrase.  The game is played in teams and you use word association to try to get your team to guess the word on the game unit.  The game goes fast and is easy for all ages.  The cool little Catch Phrase Unit even keeps score for you!  Yay!

Pit is fast paced and interactive.  You try to convince others to trade crops with you while they are trying to convince others to trade with them.  It is a race to be the first to collect all of your crops.  My kids love playing this game and it’s a great way to bring others out of their shell.

Telestrations

Telestrations is a mix between Pictionary and Telephone.  Everyone draws a word, then passes their drawing to the next person who guesses what you drew, this continues through everyone.  It’s so funny to see what the end product is!

Easy to Play Games

Cover Your Assets

The game Cover your Assets is fast, easy to learn and seriously addicting.  I’ve always loved money games and the ability to feel like a “quick millionaire.”  This is a great game for families!

Anomia

Anomia is a fun group game and works well for all personalities, even those normally quiet will start shouting and laughing while playing.  You do need to be able to read, so it is more fit for older kids.  It is small and compact which makes it easy to carry around on trips or over to someones home.

Everest Toys Anomia Card Game

Bananagrams

I absolutely love Bananagrams, or as my family likes to call it, Speed Scrabble.  It has the same strategy as scrabble, use your letter tiles to connect a words together in a grid.  But, it is fast paced and has an extra element of stress (in a good way).  If you are a fan of word games, you will love bananagrams!

Bananagrams Party Edition

Farkle

Farkle, or The Dice Game as I grew up calling it, is a game of luck and risk. The more you risk, the more lucky you might get.  It’s very easy to play, just simple rolling the dice and keeping score.  Farkle can turn into a lengthy game or played as a quick time filler.

Spot It

There is really no game like Spot It!  It is easy for all ages to play, has many different game play options, and each round goes quickly.  My kids can seriously play Spot It for hours!  We absolutely love it and I recommend it to everyone!

Spot It!

Clue

Clue is a classic, and for good reason!  It’s a good old fashioned mystery game as you make guesses trying to guess who committed the crime.  My kids love getting to go from room to room and write their suspicious in their “clue notebook.”

Kids love Exploding Kittens!  It’s simple to learn and so much fun to play.  The idea behind the game is so unique and original.  There is a little bit of strategy involved, but not necessary to enjoy the game.

Sequence

I grew up playing Sequence and it’s been fun to introduce it to my kids again.  It’s a very simple strategy, easy enough for young kids to follow.

Sequence Game

For Sale

For Sale is a game of buying properties and then selling properties.  It requires a little bit of strategy and a little bit of luck.  It’s easy for kids to understand and fun enough for adults to enjoy.  This travel version is cheaper than the original version, and more compact!

For Sale - Travel Edition

 

I’m always looking for new games to play with my family.  Comment below with YOUR favorite games!

 

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Christmas Hard Candy Recipe

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

I was introduced to Christmas Hard Candy when I married my husband.  It is a Christmas staple in his family.  It’s also so easy to make, and even more fun to eat! 😉

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I made Cinnamon version.  But, you can also make a peppermint version (tinted green) which is equally as good!  It’s fun to make both and have both red and green candy to give to neighbors.

You will need cinnamon oil or peppermint oil.  These are not usually found at a grocery store.  I buy mine at a craft store in the cake decorating section.  I also found them for you on Amazon.  Do not use cinnamon or peppermint extract, it won’t turn out as good!  (I promise, I tried!)

Christmas Hard Candy Recipe

3 1/2 cup sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup water

1/2 tsp cinnamon or peppermint oil

1 tsp red (for cinnamon) or green (for peppermint) food coloring

In a large heavy saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water.  Cook on medium to high heat until candy thermometer reads 300 degrees (hard crack stage), stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in oil and food coloring, keeping face away from mixture as odor is very strong.  Immediately pour onto an oiled cookie sheet.  Cool and break into pieces.  Store in air tight container.

 

 

Let me know if you try it and like it!  It puts a big smile on my husbands face every year!

Check out my other Christmas Recipes:

Christmas Tree Cookie Recipe

Easy Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe

Christmas · Family · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Gift Ideas · Good Ideas · Holidays · Homemade · Recipes

Easy Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe

Hot cocoa is such a fun staple to have in your home during these cold winter months.  My kids will spend hours playing outside in the snow and the first thing they ask for when they come inside is some hot chocolate!

Back in my “spender” days I use to buy hot chocolate mix at the store like it was nobody’s business!  Once I started learning how to save and live a frugal life I learned how to make hot chocolate mix from scratch and I have never looked back!

Not only does making your own hot cocoa save you money, it is also so quick and easy to do.  It also tastes much better than what you will buy from the store!

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Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe

2 cups nonfat dry milk powder

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 cup powdered creamer

1/8 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Store in a tightly covered container.

To make hot chocolate:  Stir 1/4 cup mix with 3/4 cup boiling water.  Enjoy!

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We usually make this mix for our family to enjoy all winter, but it would also be a really frugal christmas gift for friends and neighbors.  Whip up a large batch, portion it into cute jars and tie a bow around it. Done!

 

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Christmas Tree Cookie Recipe

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

One of my favorite Christmas Traditions as a young girl was my mom making these delicious Christmas Tree Cookies!  I knew it was Christmastime when I came home to these delicious treats after school.

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My mom is no longer living, so I have continued on the tradition by making them for my kids.  They are SO easy and I love the hint of almond flavor!

One of the best parts of making Christmas Tree Cookies is getting to use this fun Wilton Cookie Press.  It’s really easy to use, and you can usually find one under $10!  It comes with a dozen different plates with fun shapes for cookies.  All you have to do is fill it with the cookie dough, turn it upside down and press the trigger!  Out comes a cute little tree.

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Christmas Tree Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp salt

2 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

green food coloring

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together in mixer.

Beat in egg and almond extract.

Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Gradually add to mixer.

Add a few drops of green food coloring.  Mix well.

Fill Cookie Press with dough and insert the tree plate.

Use Cookie Press to make cookies on ungreased cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with red sprinkles.

Bake in hot oven for 8 minutes.

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They are so easy!  Your kids will look forward to them every year, I promise!

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20 FREE or FRUGAL Family Christmas Traditions

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Christmas is just my very very favorite season.  I love the lights, the snow, planning that perfect gift for a loved one, and the joy I feel from everyone around me.  It truly is the most magical time of the year!

December is the perfect month for establishing family traditions.  My hope is that one day my little family will look back on their childhood and remember the sweet memories and traditions we made together.

You do not have to spend a lot of money to make these memories with your family.  A lot of activities can be done completely FREE!  Here are 20 FREE or FRUGAL Family Christmas Traditions!

family traditions

Free or Frugal Family Christmas Traditions

1.  Decorate the Christmas Tree

Each year our family hikes through the forest to cut down our Christmas Tree.  After finding that “perfect” tree we bring it home, turn on some Christmas music and spend a fun evening decorating it together.  Our Christmas tree is decorated with salt dough ornaments, candy canes, and all the things that bring sentimentality and love to my life.  The ornaments made by the hands of my sweet children are ones I will cherish forever!

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2.  Christmas Stories

Every night for the entire month of December we turn off the lights in our house, sit in front of the lit up Christmas tree, and read a Christmas Story.  Short stories can easily be found and printed from the internet, or you can usually find Christmas books at your local thrift store.

3.  Christmas Lights

Take a drive as a family and look at all of the Christmas lights around town.  We have found a few favorite neighborhoods that we enjoy visiting each year.  I always pop popcorn for the kids (and me!) to snack on during the drive and the kids bring a blanket and wear their pajamas.  Of course, we have our favorite holiday music on in the background.  It is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to enjoy the holidays

4.  Holiday Baking

I mean really, does it get any better than holiday baking??  I think NOT!  With hundreds of different recipes and treats to choose from, we could be baking all month long!

Holiday baking is a fun tradition to do with your kids.  My kids love to help in the kitchen, ESPECIALLY if they know treats are involved!  A few of our holiday favorites are gingerbread men, peanut brittle, pretzels dipped in chocolate, and homemade toffee.

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5.  Neighbor Gifts

After all the holiday baking it’s so fun to deliver those yummy goodies to friends and neighbors.  We like to get the kids involved in this.  We package up the plates together, make cute little cards and spend an evening bringing some joy to our little neighborhood.  I love this tradition and the way it brings a community together.

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6.  Advent Calendar

Years ago I made a Christmas Advent calendar.  It was quite a bit of work and honestly, there are so many cheaper and easier options out there.  But, my kids love this calendar.  It’s nothing fancy.  They don’t receive a treat or activity each day, they just put a little felt ornament up on our felt Christmas Tree.  When the tree is full, Christmas is here.  It makes the long wait a little bit easier for the excited kids!

7.  Christmas Movies

Have a Christmas Movie night.  I love snuggling up with my family and enjoying a feel good holiday movie.  We enjoy classics like; It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas; or a newer family favorite is Elf.  Netflix has a lot of great options, or check out a few from your local library.

8.  Christmas Crafts

There are hundreds of darling Christmas Craft ideas all over Pinterest.  I like to do a few of these during the school break with my kids.  You can always find some ideas using items you already have in your house.

9.  Paper Snowflakes

Cut out paper snowflakes and hang them around your house.  You can find many tutorials on YouTube.  These are usually easy enough for younger kids to enjoy.  I will usually fold the paper for my preschool kids and then let them be in charge of cutting out the fun shapes. It’s such a joy to see every snowflake with a different unique design.

 

10.  Christmas Eve Dinner

I like to have a big fancy dinner with my family on Christmas Eve.  When we have our big dinner on Christmas Eve, we are able to just relax and enjoy Christmas day stress free.  We invite over extended family and everyone brings a side dish to share.  When everyone helps contribute to the meal, it keeps the costs low.

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11.  Letters to Santa

My kids like to write letters to Santa Clause every year.  I am personally not a huge fan of the traditional letters to Santa, where the kids ask for all the things they want to be brought to them.  Instead, I have my kids write to tell Santa about all of the good and nice things they have done throughout the year.  I have told them this is how Santa decides if he will bring them a present or not.  My hope is this will encourage them to focus more on being kind and less on materialist things.

12.  Light the World

We have been participating in Light the World for the past few years.  Light the World is a campaign sponsored by my church.  It encourages families to look for ways to serve within their family, community and in the world.  It is absolutely open to EVERYONE!  The focus is less about religion, and more on service.

There are so many different ways to serve and love others.  Bake cookies for your local fire department, participate in Operation Shoe box, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or become “Secret Santa” for a family in need.  I love having my kids participate in this and have found it really brings the true spirit of Christmas into our home.

13.  Act out the Nativity

Every Christmas Eve, after our special dinner, my kids act out the nativity as an adult reads the story out of Luke 2.  The kids dress up as mary, joseph, donkey etc.  I love this tradition!

14.  Make a Ginger Bread House

Spend an afternoon making a ginger bread house with your family.  You can usually find fairly cheap kits at your local grocery store.  One year we just used graham crackers and homemade frosting.  For decorations we used items already in my pantry, like chocolate chips, marshmallows and almonds.  It really doesn’t matter how fancy of a house you build, all that matters is that you’re spending time with your loved ones.

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15.  Christmas Cookie Exchange

Invite some friends over for an annual Christmas Cookie Exchange.  Ask everyone to bring a dozen cookies and enjoy socializing and taste testing all of the different holiday cookies.  You might even find a new favorite recipe!

16.  Send out a Christmas Email

Ditch the traditional Christmas card and instead send out a Christmas e-mail.  You can include a few pictures and a short update of what your family has been up to over the past year.  I have even seen some free email card services you could look into!

17.  White Elephant Party

Host a White Elephant Party at your home.  Ask everyone to bring a wrapped gift (something they already have around their house).  Play a fun gift exchange game (these can be found on Pinterest) to decide who will open which present.

This is a fun way to exchange gifts with friends, without having to spend a lot of money on everyone.  It also brings a lot of laughs!!

18.  Hot Chocolate Bar

Set up a hot chocolate bar on Christmas Day.  Keep it simple to prevent overspending.  A few peppermint sticks, some marshmallows and whipped cream are all easy ideas.  Search Pinterest for easy homemade hot chocolate mix.

19.  Christmas Concerts/Events

Look to your community for free Christmas Concerts and Events happening around town.  Does your community put on a free nativity, light parade or other special concerts?  You can usually find at least a few Christmas Concerts at the local high school.

20.  Cookies for Santa and Reindeer Food

Set out milk and cookies for Santa Clause on Christmas Eve.  Go one step further and make Reindeer Food.  Mix together oats and glitter for magic reindeer food.  Sprinkle it out in your yard to help the reindeer find your house.

Christmas Traditions

I am always searching for fun new traditions!  What are some of your families favorite holiday traditions???  Let me know in the comments!