If your family isn't in for drunken shenanigans and sports games at the Holidays, you need something to do. Which is often where board games come in. My family is notoriously bad at these, but that doesn't mean we haven't tried a bunch of great board games for our "between dinner and desert" entertainment. The games on the list below won't always work for every family for a variety of reasons, but that doesn't mean they aren't great, family friendly games. Some are classics, some are new and a bit indie, but they're all good fun.
Which is about the most you can ask from a board game when family is involved.
Clue is quite possibly the most classic board game I could have put on this list, but it's a crowd pleaser for a reason. Clue has that nice vintage Agatha Christie vibe going which makes it a hit for every generation you'll find at the dinner table today. Sure, you might want to watch any newborns and toddlers around the game pieces (no one wants to go to the ER because the new baby swallowed the candlestick from the ballroom). Other than that, there's really nothing offensive about Clue. The biggest trouble is getting people to sit down and focus. But if you've got a group that's already agreed to a board game, that shouldn't be too much trouble. Plus, you've got that neat movie tie-in, so you can slap Tim Curry's face up on the TV while you play a few rounds.
Yahtzee is the game for the groups that can't quite keep it together long enough for something more involved but still want to put time into a game. Because its all about the rolling of dice, the rounds of Yahtzee are pretty fast, and have an innate satisfaction to them that'll please the instant gratification crowd. However, unless you're playing with your grandmother, the biggest trouble with Yahtzee is going to be finding a crowd that's got enough patience to handle a lengthy game, but not enough focus for Clue. And that's a bit of a small window.
Exploding Kittens is UNO but far less likely to result in a family breakdown, because the card options are slightly less rude and covered in adorable kittens. Sure, some of the kittens explode and if you pick up the expansion one of them is a black hole, but that doesn't prevent you from wallowing in their sheer cute factor. Its also new enough to have some good novelty value, and rounds are rather short, making this a good pickup game if you're in a pinch or have a crowd that tends to wander away.
Ticket to Ride is a bit like the lovechild of Risk and Monopoly, but with trains. And way less player against player competition. The point of the game is to travel the map and collect cards from the places you visit by train. It provides a really wholesome gameplay experience that reminds players of a simpler time in life, when everything was accessible by train and traveling was all about seeing new things. As for the cynics, well. When you're stuck surrounded by familiar faces, having the ability to virtually tour a foreign country by train is a nice helping of wishfulfillment.
Settlers of Catan is the board game for families that have patience, enjoy strategy, and just might like to repurpose sheep. Its ideal for an older crowd, as it gets a bit involved for it to be accessible for young kids, but if you have a group that can play Catan – always play Catan. The unintentional wood puns alone are worth the slightly scandalized looks on your relatives' faces.