I know all of you here are anxiously trying to figure out what to get your non gaming family, or your friends that you want to get gaming. Many of these games will work for gamers as well.
The BGG Gift Guide lists quite a few games, some I have no knowledge of (Kids games) and others I like (Hive) or hate (Settlers of Catan).
One thing you have to understand about purchasing games for other people, particularly non gamers, is that your giftee may not like games, or you may have to teach them it. Don't be disheartened though, you will get someone that likes the game you purchase and will want to play it with you.
A second point you should understand is what kind of game you should purchase.
If they like group activities you should purchase party games like Apples to Apples, or Wits and Wagers. These are both games that scale well to larger groups and can involve gamers and non gamers.
If they are more of a small group person (just close friends and family), look at games like Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride (the original), or Ingenious. These will provide both an opportunity to play a game and still socialise.
If they are the sort of person that likes 2 player games, Lost Cities is ok (I prefer Battle Line) or Hive. If they have an interest in either war or fantasy, I would suggest something from the Commands & Colors series by Richard Borg, either Battle Lore or Memoir '44 would be a great 2 player game. These games are both fast playing (30-45 minutes perside) games that use miniatures that are graphically appealing and it is fun to play.
There is also a subset of games that seems to work well for groups of non gamers as well. These are the "racing" games. The more popular ones are Formula De', which simulates Formula One racing using dice and a gear system, this scales from 2-10. I find the game drags a little with 10 though and I think the sweetspot is 4-6. Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix, which is more of a card management system that still allows you to feel like you are racing, it scales from 2-6. This is a different game depending on how many players are in the game. Lastly, in the car category, there is Formula Motor Racing, a card driven racing game from GMT Games that is suited for 3-6, but using the optional rules you can play with 2.
There are some non automotive racing games as well. The first would be the Really Nasty Horseracing Game, in this game you own a horse in a series of steeplechase events and you are trying to collect the most money. You are allowed to bet on which horse finishes first and you are allowed to influence the end of the race using various cheat cards. The last race game I am going to mention is Fearsome Floors. This is a game in which I think the theme is wonderfully married to the game mechanics. You play a group of people trying to escape from a dungeon with a monster in it. The movement system is unique and this is a great game.
The whole point of this is to encourage others to learn and enjoy games, so you may want to get a game that you would be excited to teach and you think they would be excited to play. Who knows, in a couple of years you may be playing Power Grid with them
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