Let’s be honest the majority of us eat too much, drink too much and spend too much over the festive period. So finding good, affordable gifts can be tricky. Especially when some of us are also hoping that Father Christmas will not fill up the stockings hung by the fire with too much single use flashing plastic that will be lucky to last past boxing day. I want my children to receive stocking fillers that will be played with and enjoyed well beyond New Year’s Eve, as well as the usual traditional gifts.
With a growing population around the world I know that Christmas is getting more expensive for Santa Claus. His elves are struggling to keep up with demand! So, I have come up with a list of stocking fillers that are available on Zatu for under £15. Having written it for the man in the red suit I thought I would share it with you too!
Dobble should need no introduction, yet many families I know have never heard of it! For me, this is a game for all ages. My youngest son was playing Dobble at the age of 4. We adapted the rules so that we would count to 3 seconds in our heads before finding a pair to level the playing field (much to the disgruntlement of my eldest child). He was playing, having fun and winning cards. So I am confident you can ignore the recommended age of 7+ and get it for anyone over the age of 4. All ages will enjoy it too and that is what makes it an excellent family game.
There are also some different versions. Popular at the moment is the Harry Potter Dobble, but Dobble Animals is another good option. There is even a waterproof version which is handy if you like playing board games in the rain! Obviously it is also for camping or the beach (or in the bath, if that's what you're in to).
UNO has been a family favourite since it was created in 1971. Gaining more popularity when it was released with Mattel in 1992. I am baffled how the first time I had ever played it was after it arrived in a stocking last year. The game is simple, quick, engaging and efficient. What’s more it is a little vindictive – but not enough to create an Eastenders-style Christmas!
At under £9 it is a snip for the hours of gaming this stocking filler will give. Zatu currently have a Toy Story 4 version and a rather exciting Uno-Corns version. I must confess I have not played either, but the box of the latter suggests there is rainbow unicorn cards! Enough said. These variants are still under £10 on Zatu.
UNO carries a recommended age of 6+ and this is quite realistic in my opinion, although the Board Game Geek community rate it as suitable for 5+. So what do you do if you already have UNO and love it? Have you considered the follow up game Uno Dos as a stocking filler this year? It might be worth investigating too.
Catch a Roo
In my recent review for Zatu I admitted that Catch a Roo is my board-gaming guilty pleasure. I enjoy playing it more than I know I should. Subsequently, I have bought it as a Christmas gift for other people. In doing so, I have discovered the box has shrunk a bit - this means it now makes an excellent stocking filler! At under £7 this is a great family game which in my opinion is fine for anyone over the age of 5. It is bright, colourful, simple and lots of fun. I play it at the end of most game nights in a very tongue-in-cheek way.
This game was actually given to my middle son by Father Christmas when visiting him at Paulton’s Park and so I put it on this list just to reassure Santa he got it right and to keep giving it this year.
Pit was brought to my attention when I read Nathan Coombs's Zatu review. He gave it 80% and I can see why. Apparently it dates back to the Victorian times. I cannot imagine they had as bright, colourful and fun cards that the current edition issued by Hasbro offers.
Pit is as fast and furious as Vin Diesel in a car. The game provides plenty of noisy fun as cards are traded around the table. With players trying to collect sets of commodities before ringing the provided bell to halt trading. It plays from 3 to 8 players, somewhere in the middle is the best player count in my opinion. It is suggested for players 6+ but interestingly the Board Game Geek community suggests an age a little bit higher. I kind of agree as holding 10 cards can be tricky for smaller hands regardless of keeping up with the fast paced trading going on. That said, house rules can be created to be inclusive of younger family members. With an RRP of £9.99 this is a great stocking filler.
Slightly older children generally want some small bit of tech that costs a small fortune. I always feel a bit sorry for Santa trying to come up with ideas that the pre-teen will like. It must also be hard to keep the stockings hanging by the fire an equal size with those of younger siblings. My top tip for this age group is a game of bluffing called Skull. Carrying a recommended age of 14+ I can safely say this can be ignored. I have been beaten fair and square by a ten year old on more than one occasion!
The Day of the Dead style calaveras artwork is pretty awesome. The game is simple, but the bluffing element makes it interesting and entertaining. Especially if you add a big dollop of banter. Skull will get plenty of use over the festive period and more importantly beyond. With an RRP of £17.99 it shouldn’t be on the list, but Zatu currently have it on offer bringing it in under £15 and therefore within budget!
Love Letter is my final stocking filler game and has an RRP of £11.99. This game appeals to the 10+ age range. The title makes it a sweet gift for a loved one too. The latest Z-Man Games version also increases the player count and so it can be played with 2-6 players. The game takes around 20 minutes to play.
This card game requires players to get their love letter into the Princess’s hands while repelling the interests of other suitors. This is achieved through deduction and bluffing trying to persuade others that your hand might be better or worse than it actually is.
I hope the list has given you a bit of inspiration. I realise some of these games are deemed as classics and you’ve possibly heard of them before. However, if you haven’t yet acquired them, they are all brilliant and worthy of being one of Father Christmas’s stocking fillers. It is also worth noting that as these are small games they won’t take up much space in Santa’s sleigh, or your luggage if you go on holiday!