Another fun section for me, because I had the chance to play the games here! You may be surprised by the list, as some of these games are different from the original versions--or just completely new!
I'm starting with a personal favorite, Kubit2Me. There are several different Kubit2Me games, for all different age groups, so you will want to check out the Kubit2Me website to pick the perfect one for your family.
My pick was Kubit2Me: Now You're Talkin', because as a Mom of boys, anything I can do to get them to open up and talk to me is a priority in my life.
And this game did it! You know why? It was developed by a Mom of four. ; )
Here's how Kubit2Me: Now You're Talkin' works: your game gear consists of a soft, foam-filled cube covered in "fur" like a shag carpet, which is totally huggable. On the cube are four pockets around the side and one on the top. The pockets are for the 40 game cards, which are split up and placed in the four side pockets (the top pocket is for discarded cards). The foam center of the cube also has an opening, inside which you can tuck the fun stickers that come with it. The stickers have lots of different sayings on them, everything from, "You crack me up!" and "darn tootin'!" to "You warm my heart."
To play, simply toss the the soft cube and we're off! The player who catches it picks a card from one of the pockets and reads the question off of the card, which might be, "Name the four most important things in your life," or "What would you do if you won $2 million dollars?" Then he or she answers the question. That's it! The next player can ask the first a question about the answer given (a great way to start a conversation going) or choose a new card to answer. At any time during the game, you can reach inside the cube and award someone one of the stickers for their answer. I gave the Rhino a sticker which said, "You're a peach!" and had him laughing.
Kubit2Me: Now You're Talkin' is a fantastic family game, which recently won the 2008 “Game of the Year” award from Creative Child Magazine, and there's no mess, because all the game gear stores right inside the soft fuzzy cube (Kubit2Me games, 24.99).
If Chess is a staple at your house, as it is at ours--the Engineer and I used to play chess for kisses when we were dating--then you will want to try out this new twist on an old classic, New Wave Chess and Checkers.
The unique design keeps all the pieces stuck to the chess board no matter how hard you try to shake them out (I tested it!), so it is perfect for on-the-go games. Stay-in-place Checkers are also included in this low-priced Chess set, so you can take both of the classic games with you on your holiday travel and never have to worry about missing pieces (New Wave Chess, paradoxy products, 12.00).
Xeko has a new trading card game (there's also adorable plush toys) based on China, stemming from all the excitement of the Beijing Olympic games.
Unlike other Trading Card games, Xeko: Mission China contains educational content that is also good for the planet--taking its cues from nature and science, Xeko: Mission China casts endangered species as the heroes, including the Giant Panda and Snow Leopard.
Xeko cards and packaging are made with recycled materials and soy-based inks, and the company donates 4% of net sales to Conservation International (CI) a non-profit organization whose work inspires the game.
In addition, the plush toys that complement the game consist of the same endangered animals, all made with earth-friendly soy fabric and filling ( Xeko Mission: China Card Game (1 Starter Deck) (2 Booster Packs) 30.00 and Xeko Hairy Eared Dwarf Lemur Plush
Okay, technically this isn't a game, but Ravensburger has a really cool twist on the classic jigsaw puzzle that the whole family can enjoy assembling together.
Ravensburger puzzle balls are 360 degree puzzles, spheres in beautiful designs that piece together perfectly, no glue required, and are attractive enough, when assembled, to keep in your child's room or your den. One offering, the Astronomy set, actually includes eight puzzleballs representing the planets in our solar system (made you stop and think, didn't it? Me too, but remember Pluto isn't a planet now). All in all, there are 18 different designs, some with specially designed stands for displaying your completed creation. Sets range in size from 60 to 540 pieces.
Pictured here is the Wildlife puzzle ball (24.99 with display stand), which is available, as are all the Ravensburger puzzle balls, from the Ravensburger website (Ravensburger Puzzle Balls, also available in specialty toy shops, range from 14.99-39.99).