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  • Writer's pictureInstant Game Night

My Kids’ Christmas 2021 Board Game Haul

Check out the games my kids received for Christmas and my thoughts on them so far

My kids had a great Christmas in terms of board games. This year, I did a ton of research into kid’s games that would be appropriate for my 5 and 3 year olds. I am happy to share these picks with you and give you my thoughts on them thus far.

Without further ado, here are the games:


Robot Turtles

Designer Dan Shapiro

Publisher ThinkFun

Players 2-5

Age Range 4+

Playing Time 15 Minutes

This little programming game is adorable. I’m not sure how I had never heard of it before but I recently saw it on one of Tom Vasel’s Top 10 lists on the Dice Tower and noticed some comments about Tom’s emotional review of it. After watching his review and seeing how big of an impact this game had on Tom’s relationship with some of his children, it was a must buy.

So far I have played this game with both of my children twice and they have really enjoyed it. We started out with just the basic rules, which were quite light for my 5 year old but perfect for the three year old. We have since “unlocked” several new features of the game and both my kids have enjoyed the game and keep asking the play again. This game really makes kids think and it is very rewarding as a parent to see that thought process working its way through your children’s brains.

The one negative I can think of is that one one adult can really participate in the game, as the “game master” or “turtle mover”. Other than this though, I highly recommend this game for children between the ages of 3 and 5, and it would probably work for older children as well.

Ticket to Ride: First Journey

Designer Alan R. Moon

Artist Cyrille Daujean, Jean-Baptiste Reynaud

Publisher Days of Wonder

Players 2-4

Age Range 6+

Playing Time 15-30 Minutes

I have only managed to play this with my 5 year old once, and he really enjoyed it. He beat me too, of course. This one is too complex for my 3 year old, but my son really enjoyed building routes, collecting cards, and playing with the chunky trains. My son got a little frustrated with not drawing the color of train cards he needed, so I actually changed the rules for drawing cards to match the normal Ticket to Ride rules, where you can see the top 4 cards from the deck. He enjoyed this much more, and I’d recommend adding that to the rules if your children feel similarly to mine.

Overall, this is a great children’s game. My son always wants to play with my Ticket to Ride games so he is thrilled to have his very own train game!


Designer Jürgen P. Grunau

Artist Haralds Klavinius

Publisher HABA

Players 2-6

Age Range 5+

Playing Time 10 Minutes

This classic HABA racing game has been a real hit with kids, especially my 3 year old. She loves rolling all the dice and moving her car along the track. My son really enjoys playing Downforce with modified rules, so he also enjoys this watered-down racing game. I have to say though – adults won’t particularly enjoy playing this one. There really isn’t any strategy to the game and is all a function of luck of the die rolls. And I have terrible luck! However, I am happy to have made the purchase, and I believe my kids will be able to play this one on their own without any adults. Talk about a win-win!


Designer Walter Schneider

Artist Charlie Bink, Robert Islas, Vincent Kim

Publisher Korea Boardgames Co., Ltd.

Players 2-4

Age Range 6+

Playing Time 20 Minutes

This dexterity game is exactly what it sounds like. You each control a monkey who is trying to flip rubber coconuts into cups. It was actually really difficult for my kids to get the hang of this, especially my 3 year old. Be ready to chase coconuts all over your house. Overall, I thought the game was ok but I think I am more partial to games like Animal upon Animal, Looping Louis, or Rhino Hero when it comes to dexterity.

The Game of Life: Super Mario Edition

Designer Hasbro Studios

Artist Not Credited

Publisher Hasbro

Players 2-4

Age Range 8+

Playing Time 30-60 Minutes

This was a bit of a surprise for me. Tom Vasel reviewed this one and it was one of the only Hasbro games from this yea he actually gave a positive review to. My kids recently fell in love with Mario world so I thought why not give it a try.

This game is actually nothing like Life except that it has the same spinner. It is essentially a roll and move game but it has a lot of cards and actions players can collect, including sidekicks which give you different benefits when players spin a certain number. There actually is some good strategy in this game as you race around to collect enough stars to go and battle Bowser.

The game is too much for my 3 year old but my 5 year old loves it. And honestly….I kind of do it. It is just silly fun and I certainly recommend it if you have a 5+ year old who loves Mario.

Ice Cool

Designer Brian Gomez

Artist Reinis Pētersons

Publisher Brain Games

Players 2-4

Age Range 6+

Playing Time 30 Minutes

Ice Cool is a hilariously fun dexterity game where one player is a hall monitor and the other players are penguin students trying to skip class to do what penguins fish. This game has all the simplicity of a dexterity game but the variable point scoring system with the games combined with the ability to "spend" two low value cards to take another turn adds just enough to elevate this game to possibly my favorite dexterity game of them all!

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, my kids' Christmas 2021 game haul. What is your favorite game from Christmas this year? Let me know in the comments. Happy gaming!

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