It’s never easy finding toys and games that will please everyone from tiny tots to taciturn teens, but we’ve donned our elf costumes and are here to lend Santa a hand. Here’s our selection of toys and board games that’ll make you wish you were a child again…
Wooden toys, particularly those which encourage creativity and role play, are great for pre-schoolers. Hape’s Baby Einstein range is so much fun, it’s easy to overlook that it’s educational. Our tiny tester was very taken with the well-made and designed MagicTouch Drums. There are two modes, so your little drummer can play along with the machine’s melodies or create their own music, always assuming you don’t hog it yourself. Find it on Amazon for £16.
Should toys be gender-neutral? There’s no denying that many girls go through a pink princess phase, so indulge it with the Pony Rider Plush Ride On Unicorn. It’s pink, it’s plush, it’s a unicorn and you can ride on it. It’s a seven year old’s dream come true! £199.99 from John Lewis.
When it comes to presents for primary school aged kids, you can’t go far wrong with Lego and there are thousands of kits to choose from. At £40.50, this Lego Star Wars 75242Black Ace Tie Interceptor could prove popular with Dads and Grandpas too. You’ll find Lego stocking fillers from around £6, all the way up to a Millennium Falcon at £135. All the toyshops have a wide selection.
Older children and teenagers can be more difficult to buy for, but a board game can bring the family together – at least till the arguments over the rules or who’s been stealing Monopoly money from the bank start.
Where is Moldova? Geography teachers have an unfair advantage with this one, but it’s a quick game that takes under an hour to play and is fun for anyone over eight. You’ll need general knowledge, strategy and luck to connect the five countries you need to win on the map. Meanwhile, opponents can challenge for or even steal countries from you. £30 from John Lewis
Disease outbreaks might not seem the most cheerful choice for a festive family game, but Pandemic involves cooperating as you try to save humanity. Either everyone wins or gets wiped out. It takes a while to get a handle on the rules and working with, rather than against, the other players, but Pandemic is rightly regarded as a modern classic. Suitable for those aged ten or over. £37.99 from John Lewis.
The Crystal Maze is based on the cult TV programme and is great fun even for those without a clue about the programme. There are four zones with a selection of mental, mystery, skill and physical games that will have team members all over the house before the game’s frantic finale. £34.99 from John Lewis.
Adults and older children, especially those with a developing social conscience, will enjoy playing Trump Cards. It’s suitable for those over twelve, but best for those a little older. The premise is simple, all you have to do is work out if the Trump quote on the cards is real or fake news. The reality of play is rather more complicated thanks to the President’s tangential grip on both facts and the English language. £14.79 from Amazon.
Board games aren’t just for older kids. Try Buy It Right, which is suitable for those aged 5-11 and is a fun way to learn about shopping and counting the change. John Lewis have it for £16.50.
Shopping sorted, now you just need to work out how to wrap a unicorn!