Best Kids Christmas Gifts 2019 with Emotional Well-being in Mind

As Play Therapists we often hear parents bemoan the amount of time kids spend playing online games and being on devices of one kind or another. We understand the challenge, but when was the last time you sat down with them and supported them to explore some fun alternatives?
With our busy lives we are often constantly present in our children’s lives, but not always emotionally attuned. It’s hard, we get it! We are parents ourselves. Sometimes it seems like a 24 hour a day job and you can never do enough. What we are suggesting is sometimes a more intense connection – just 30 minutes a week, can be more important that being constantly ‘available’. Sometimes this deep connection actually frees up some time in your busy schedule as the constant demand for your attention will dissipate as emotional needs are met in this space of togetherness.
We can tell you from our own experience in the therapy room – kids LOVE playing board games. They love the emotional connection that comes with playing a game and, best of all, board games are important for a child’s mental and social development. From improved concentration to creative development, children are enriched with various skills while playing board games. These games help develop skills like decision making, social interaction, and critical thinking.
So, this Christmas, although it is easy to get caught up in spending large amounts of money and exhausting ourselves hunting down the ‘perfect’ gift, press pause and take a moment to reflect on your childhood. Did you ever play a board game? Can you remember the happiness and warmth attached to that memory? That sense of connection?
You can purchase most of these board games for between $20 -$30. Spend some time tuning into each other. We promise you and your kids will find it an absolutely priceless experience.
Here is a list of our favourites…


Sequence offers your child a chance to learn about the importance of strategic thinking. And it’s pretty easy to pick up on the rules: When you’ve got five chips in a row, that’s a Sequence.

Guess Who?

An easy game for anyone to pick up, Guess Who? asks players to try to figure out each other’s mystery characters. With bright colours and fun, cartoonish illustrations, it’s a solid choice for any youngster.

The Game of Life

For over 40 years, Life has delighted parents and children alike. Kids seem to love exploring ‘future’ paths and feeling a sense of empowerment to control their destiny in the process. We think you’ll love making this a game night fixture for your own family. We love this game, there is a Junior version for younger kids.

Trivial Pursuit Family Edition

This new version of Trivial Pursuit encourages kids to learn, read, and engage more with the world around them. It also actually gives them a chance at winning with a separate stack of “cards for kids.”


Mouse Trap

Mouse Trap invites kids to get their “mouse” around the board without getting trapped in one of the many obstacles floating around. Adorable, miniature cheese slices abound. Recommended by Mensa to support learning valuable skills in Construction, Cause and Effect and Decision making.


It’s a classic board game for a reason. And while there’s a Cluedo Jr. available now, we think kids can take on the challenge of participating in the nostalgia-inducing. After all, deductive reasoning will get them far in life.  Team up with younger kids to help them join in.

Twister Ultimate

The best summer party game, Twister’s like a life-size board game where the players are the pieces. Best of all, it can be played outdoors or indoors. And this new and improved version features a mat that’s twice the size of the original, with many more dots too, making it the perfect option for huge families.


Sorry! Is easy to play. Find out who is a good (or bad) loser. Support kids to work out how to master regulation skills, maybe learn some yourself in the process. Kids learn that there are ways to handle winning – and losing!



It’s beloved for a reason. Catan (or Settlers, as it’s known among fans) is the game your kids will want to play over and over again. Once they learn the rules, that is. You will love it too. A great way to spend the Summer holidays.


Gnomes at Night

In this game players work together to move their gnomes around the board and collect treasure before time runs out. Feeling like you are not communicating well with your child? Give this game a go.
Christine Harkin
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