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2023 Social Skills Gift-Giving Guide – Teach Social Skills through Game Play!

Nadine Briggs

It’s holiday gift giving time! Here is our annual blog about the favorite games that we play at Simply Social Kids. These games are great fun but they also work on friendship skills. It’s a perfect time to put down the electronics, get together with family and friends, and brush up on some social skills while having loads of fun!

New Game Tips: When learning new games, we prefer to find YouTube videos that explain how to play rather than reading directions. This tip might save families from feeling frustrated as you learn how to play new games. We will also sometimes modify complicated rules to make the game easier to understand. We tend to not use timers as they can cause unnecessary stress among our group participants.

What to Look for:

When we choose games to play with the kids/teens/young adults at our social skills center, we look for games where the players have to consider how the other players think. This helps to teach the ever-important skill of perspective taking. This skill requires someone to think about how another person might react to a situation rather than how they would react. It’s an extremely important skill to understand when trying to make friends. Our friends want us to consider their wants, needs and opinions.

We also look for games where another’s perspective needs to be respected, even if it’s different than the other players. For example, most are familiar with the game Apples to Apples. If the game card says “soft”, the other players are to find cards in their hand that refer to things that are soft. If someone plays the card that says “airplane”, there are kids who would argue (literally argue) that planes are made of machinery so can’t be soft. But if the player is nervous to fly, they might appreciate a “soft” landing. The other players are encouraged to respect how that person viewed the placement of their card.

Games where cooperation is required are great too! Cooperating with others means that players will need to take into consideration the role of the other players. They will need to be flexible in how they think about how to play the game and allow the ideas of the group rather than want to play only the way they think the game should be played.

Games that are intended for older kids can also sometimes be played by younger kids if the content is pre-screened to be sure that it is age appropriate.

Here are 5 of our favorites and why we like them.


Product Description: SUPERHEROES IN SUPER FIGHTS. Who would win: Abraham Lincoln with laser eyes or a velociraptor armed that can use the force? SUPERFIGHT is a classic party game from Skybound Games where you argue with your friends over RIDICULOUS fights between RIDICULOUS characters armed with RIDICULOUS attributes. It is up to the players to argue and plead their cases about why their fighters would beat the other!

Why we like it: This game uses a lot of imagination and it creates a fun scenario where kids essentially argue their point. It’s a great game to teach respectful disagreements and when to relinquish and acknowledge when you have lost a verbal spat. This game is hugely popular in our social skills groups.

Link to Buy:

Crappy Birthday Game:

Product Description: Here’s wishing you a Crappy Birthday, the frenetic card game where it’s fun to give Bad Gifts!

In Crappy Birthday, players are dealt five cards representing gifts. When it’s your turn, it’s your birthday, and everybody gives you a crappy “gift” from their hand. You shuffle the cards, turn them over one by one, and pick the gift you dislike the most, and the player who gave you that gift earns a point. The first player to three points wins!

Why We Like It: We prefer the Happy Birthday version of this game, but sadly, it has been discontinued. In this game, you give card that you think someone will like the least. Players have to think about another’s likes and dislikes to play this game. Games that encourage players to think about what others like builds the perspective taking skill. Most of the kids were work with have a great deal of difficulty considering another person’s view. We encourage players of this game to explain why they chose the gift that they selected so that we all learn more about their likes and dislikes. This game is very popular in our social skills groups.

Link to Buy:

Game of Things: 

Product Description: In this hilarious party game, read a funny topic such as “THINGS you wish grew on trees. THINGS people do when no one is looking. THINGS you wouldn’t do for all the money in the world.” The goal of The Game of THINGS. . . is to guess who provided which response. The player who scores the most points wins.

Why We Like It: This game practices perspective taking by challenging the players to figure out who wrote which answers.

Link to Buy:

Throw Throw Burrito:

Product Description: Throw throw Burrito is what you get when you cross a card game with dodgeball. Try to collect matching sets of cards faster than your opponents while simultaneously ducking, dodging, and throwing squishy airborne burritos. The cards you collect earn points, but getting hit by flying burritos loses them. So clear some space and put away the antiques, because you’ve never played a card game quite like this before.

How it works: place a pair of burritos on a table and draw cards. Keep your cards a secret. Rack up points by finding sets of three in the deck. Find matches before anyone else does. If someone plays Burrito cards, a battle ensues. Steal points from your opponents by hitting them with squishy toy burritos. Declare war on your friends. Some battles only involve a handful of players. Others force the entire table to engage in a burrito war. Duel to determine the winner. During a burrito duel, two players must stand back to back, walk three paces, and fire.

Why We Like It: The burritos in this game are super soft so even kids with sensory issues don’t mind being hit with one of these burritos. It’s a great game to be able to take a soft hit, be okay with it, and accept their “burrito bruise”. Kids LOVE this game at Simply Social Kids. It can get a little rowdy, but that creates valuable coaching moments.

Link to Buy:

Reverse Charades:

Product Description: Reverse Charades is a hilarious twist on the classic party game! The entire team uses 60-second rounds to act out as many words as one person can guess. It’s fast-paced, fiercely fun team competition that’s an absolute riot with families, work teams, school groups, party-goers or among a few close friends. You’re in for a big dose of fun! Perfect for family and adult party game night alike. Includes 300 word cards, timer and instructions. Suitable for 3 or more players, but let’s get serious, this is a seriously fun team game. The more the merrier! Ages 6+

Why We Like It: The goal for this game is for everyone to work together. The group needs to cooperate to create the charade. For example, they might select a card that says “marching band”. The group then has to decide who plays each role in a march band – band leader, drummer, trumpet, tuba, and trombone players, etc.. For kids with social challenges, this type of cooperation can be tricky and this game gives them a great way to practice.

Link to Buy:

 Bubble Talk

Product Description: Bubble Talk is a new fast-paced family board game that asks players to match hilarious captions with funny pictures. A game that is as much fun if you are 8 or 80. The game begins when each player draws seven random caption cards. The judge for that round draws a picture card and players must quickly try to match the funniest caption they have to the picture. The player who makes the judge laugh the most wins that round. Each round provides comical, clever and creative results, guaranteed to keep everyone in the group laughing. Perfect for a small group of three or as many as eight players. Each game includes 150 picture cards (4″x 6″) and 300 hilarious caption cards that allow for hours of gameplay. So let’s get started!

Why We Like It: The kids absolutely love this game. It always generates peals of laughter. The game has photos of rather odd scenarios with a wide variety of captions that may go with the images. Kids will practice respecting the opinion of peers as the “it” for the round chooses the caption that they think fits the image best. Some of the captions may be a bit “edgy” for younger kids so we simply remove those from the game.

Link to Buy:

Apples to Apples

Product Description: The name of the game is a play on the phrase “apples to oranges,” and the game is about making comparisons between different things. General gameplay is as follows: players are dealt red cards which have a noun printed on them, and the judge (a different player in each turn) draws a green card on which an adjective is printed and places it for all players to see. Each player then chooses a red card they are holding that they think best describes the green card. The judge then decides which adjective she likes best.

Why We Like It: This game is a classic and is just like Bubble Talk only with words.

Link to Buy:

These games are some of our favorites. If you have a favorite game that also teaches social skills, we’d love to hear about it!

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