Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Gifty new and unusual pandemic-proof games for the holidays

NEW YORK — The pandemic has proven there's no shortage of games to keep families, couples and kids amused. The classics are ever-present, but a range of new or off-the-beaten-track gift entries are available.

NEW YORK — The pandemic has proven there's no shortage of games to keep families, couples and kids amused. The classics are ever-present, but a range of new or off-the-beaten-track gift entries are available.

A sampling:

TRAGOS: It's a party card game focused on Latino pop culture that comes in a variety of sets, including one out in November that's digital only and costs $3.99. It's the Tragos Stay Home Pack and includes such activities as showing off your best moves to Bad Bunny’s “Yo Perreo Sola” dance, and taking your best shot at duplicating Cardi B’s coronavirus howl. Half the proceeds go to The Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund. Available on Options in Spanish and English, both digital and in a box, are now widely available. Tragos is primarily a drinking game, but exactly what gets consumed is up to you.

DO YOU LOOK LIKE YOUR CAT?: What kind of cat are you? A magnificent Maine Coon? A sweet Scottish Fold? This card memory game matches cat cards with human cards. Collect the most pairs to win. A booklet is the final arbiter of which felines go with which humans. Widely available. And, yes, there's a dog version, too, now widely available. $16.99.

BOOM AGAIN: Designed for two players or two teams, this trivia quiz game speaks directly to the generations that grew up in the ’50s, ‘60s and ’70s. It features over 2,200 questions drawing from advertising slogans and jingles, politics and social movements, and movies, music and television. It covers the anti-war movement, the sexual revolution and the drug culture that were a huge part of the boomer experience. $45. Available exclusively at

THE FAIR PLAY DECK: Based on Eve Rodsky's bestselling book, “Fair Play,” these cards in a box are intended for couples looking to spark dialogue. There are task cards for deciding who does what, and “unicorn space cards” with ways to carve out time for learning new things that bring joy, whether that's a language or training for a marathon. The idea is to eke out priorities. $22. Out Oct. 27 and available for pre-order on the Penguin Random House site.

MTV, THE THROWBACK MUSIC PARTY GAME: It's a buzzer team game for MTV lovers of the ‘80s, ’90s and beyond. Various rounds require different tasks. There's the artist round, where each player can belt one out. A quick-fire round has one player per team trying to think up songs in different categories, like pop anthems, before 15 seconds is up. The first team to earn cards from eight categories gets to party like it's 1999. The price is, in fact, $19.99. Available at Walmart, Target and Amazon.

ANIMAL MAH-JONG: It's the classic tile game that originated in China, only with cards and animals. The set includes instructions for beginners. Rather than traditional line drawings of bamboo and Chinese characters, it features Ryuto Miyake’s stunning animal illustrations, with each suit featuring Asian land, sea and air animals. Give the gift of pongs and chows, only with pangolins, sea nettles and Mandarin ducks. $34.99. Widely available.

THE WINE GAME: For connoisseurs and wannabes. The weather's turning so why not put all that wine drinking to good use? There are two decks of cards, one for red wines and one for whites. The cards cover all major wine-producing regions and some unexpected gems, with a booklet offering brief descriptions of each and tips on labels to look for. Play is easy; whoever collects the most sets of four cards is the winner. $24.99. Widely available.

PANDO: What animal do I look like? Do I tend to embellish the truth? Would I snitch on my friends or family if I saw them commit a non-violent crime? Draw cards and read questions aloud to see who knows best. Nearly 1,000 questions. It's more smart than prepubescent but sometimes just semi-polite. $25. Available on, Amazon and elsewhere.

KIDS AGAINST MATURITY: A fill-in-the-blank game for ages 8 and up with some toilet humour for the so-inclined, along with entertaining innuendos for parents. Players get white answer cards and take turns asking questions from blue cards. Everyone answers each question with their funniest answer. The question reader chooses the winner to decide each round. The game includes 500 cards, with expansion packs available. $29.99. Available on Amazon and

THE #UPSIDEDOWNCHALLENGEGAME: Ever wonder what life would be like upside down? Put on the goggles included in this group game and have at it. The goggles make everything topsy-turvy. Somebody draws a challenge card and each player takes turns attempting the task with goggles in place. The first player to earn five points wins. The folks at Vango Toys include special holiday, birthday and two-person challenges on the company website. $19.99. Widely available.

SKETCHY TALES, DISNEY EDITION: Players take turns drawing classic Disney characters doing unusual things, such as Piglet mowing the lawn or Aladdin jumping out of a cake. Earn points for the best drawings and silliest guesses. The game is appropriate for ages 8 and up. It includes 60 Disney characters and 120 silly scenarios, along with dry-erase cards, Mickey Mouse clips and eight mini-markers. $19.99. Available at Target and Amazon.

MARVEL UNITED: This is a fast-moving co-operative game where players take control of Marvel superheroes and band together against the most dangerous villains in the Marvel Universe. Players draw villain cards and hero cards as they build storylines. There's Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow and Iron Man, along with bad guys Red Skull, Ultron and Taskmaster. Who doesn't want to be a hero these days? For ages 8 and up. $34.99. Available at Target, Walmart and Amazon.

Leanne Italie, The Associated Press