We all know the story. Baby Jesus popped out on to some hay and three wise men appeared, shoving an iPod and two DVD box sets of Breaking Bad into his tiny hands. They left pretty quickly, relieved of their present-bringing duties and not wanting to stick around to clear up the wrapping paper. No? Is that not 100% correct? Don't sweat it - if you're under pressure to grab a gift, we're recommending these 3 little gems for you to choose from!
2-5 players, 30 minutes, age 8+
A Great Time To Play Is: between Christmas and New Year's Eve. You'll be seeing real fireworks at some point, but your card arrangement will put them all to shame!
For a fireworks display that won't terrify the dog, try Hanabi! Players place brightly-coloured firework cards numbered from 1 - 5 in front of them. Other players' cards will fill any gaps in yours and vice versa, until you've all worked together to put on the most spark-tacular (thank you) fireworks show on earth! Except... you can't see your own cards, just everyone else's. You're working blind, which is, coincidentally, the worst thing to be if you're lighting real fireworks. Give each other hints and clues, spending counters to do so, but be wary of these running out. After 30 minutes of cooperation and good timing, you could be putting on the greatest show anyone's ever seen! Or the worst. But hey, it beats frankincense!
2-5 players, 15 minutes, age 8+
A Great Time To Play Is: when you're hungry and waiting for Christmas Eve nibbles/Christmas dinner/Boxing Day leftovers. Whenever food's too far away, basically!
Now I'm already a sucker for tiny faces drawn on to inanimate objects, so for me, this one's a winner! The aim is to nab the best bits and bobs of sushi dishes as they whizz past on a conveyor belt, their little faces smiling up at you with glee. There's a 'draft and pass' element to the cards, and quick thinking's vital - you're gonna need to make decisions about which type of sushi to go for and which ones to try and steal away from your mates! You get a chance to decide which cards to keep and which to pass back into the sushi pile, ready to make the rounds again. The player with the most points is the grandmaster general of sushi. Give someone Sushi Go and they'll never ask you for myrrh again!
(Chopsticks not included. They'd never fit in the tin.)
2-8 players, 30 minutes, age 8+
A Great Time To Play Is: during some pre-party drinks. Fast and easy to play, before everyone passes out from the eggnog!
Now, what else did you think I'd use as a substitute for 'gold'?! Players, pick up your dice! You'll each have 6, of a single colour. In front of you are three b-e-a-uuutifully drawn cards in the Calliope Games style. Match your rolling dice to the ones shown on a card and you can take it as your own! Replace the successful card with a new one each time and marvel - marvel, I tell you! - at the gorgeous artwork. Horses, dragons, mythological goddesses, all stretching out from swirling clouds. Each card has a point value, and the first to 40 points is the winner! The Deluxe Edition allows up to 8 players, comes in a beautifully embossed tin with a crushed velvet bag for dice of all colours with a marbled effect. Yep. Eat your heart out, Baby Jesus.